Kelly Macdonald Interview For Pixar’s ‘Brave’
Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. In ‘Brave,’ a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasts. Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late. Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, Pixar’s ’Brave’ is released in cinemas from June 22nd in the US and August 17th in the UK.
Pixar are known for making visually stunning and hugely entertaining films for kids and adults alike. Also, there’s always relatable themes at the core of their films…..
Kelly Macdonald: Yeah. I think ’Brave’ has these great themes of family, fate and bravery. And I think everybody can relate to those things. Then you add this sweeping Scottish landscape, and then these really interesting, loveable characters. ‘Brave’ is set in a sort of medieval Scotland, it’s not very time specific. It’s a kind of magical kingdom. You get this strong sense of Scottish folk-lore, they’ve got these Will-o’-the-wisps that are talked about, but nobody believes in them. Merida sees one when she’s a young girl and knows that they’re real. So there’s this magical aspect to it as well. It’s really a young girls coming-of-age story. It’s that time, it’s time for her to grow up and she’s reluctant.
How did you find the voice-over process for Merida on ‘Brave,’ I can imagine that being a wholly unique experience of capturing a performance?
Kelly Macdonald: It was a completely different experience, I might as well have not done anything ever before (laughs). It was that different. There was nothing I could do that felt familiar. I had to big everything up, I had to make everything more. Being in a room with Mark Andrews was really helpful because he’s a very loud and larger than life American. So that really helped me fit into Merida’s shoes a bit more. It took a while, I was a slow starter – I think Pixar would probably agree (laughs). But once I got the hang of it I got really into it, I got involved, and in the end I felt that it was very liberating. I got more vocal with the character, with Merida.
Did you have anything in common with Merida that you could draw from?
Kelly Macdonald: Growing up, I was much more indoorsy, I was sort of bookish – I had square eyes watching so much TV (laughs). She’s much more energetic and adventurous and outspoken than I was. And I really didn’t have, I mean, Merida has quite a thing to rebel against. I didn’t really have that. I just had the normal trials and tribulations of battling my mum in my teenage ways (laughs). I was a teenage girl, and so that I was the thing that I zoned in on. All teenagers are awful, but teenage girls are kind of worse, I think (laughs).
What was it like for you taking on this role of Merida and working alongside this cast?
Kelly Macdonald: When you think of animation, you think of Pixar and Disney. To just be asked into a room to try out for one of their films was enough for me. And I can’t quite believe that it kept going from that day on. It’s just totally, totally thrilling and completely unlike anything I’ve ever done before. I love Emma Thompson, I’ve been lucky enough to work in the same room as her, which I didn’t get to do on ‘Brave’ (laughs). She’s an incredible actress, an incredible lady. The whole cast is…..Emma is an honorary Scot, her mum is Scottish, every holiday in her youth was spent in Scotland, so I just think of her being Scottish (laughs).
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