Below is what we learned at our first Disney round-table interview, which happened to be with two of the members of Disney’s Strange Magic cast!
On Wednesday, my kid reporter and I were gifted with the opportunity to head to Disney Studios in Burbank, California, to interview two cast members from George Lucas’ new movie, Strange Magic. Premiering January 23, 2015, the Lucasfilm animated movie is the story of two fairy sisters, elves and an adorable imp — along with other creative and adorable woods and meadow creatures — with a message we all need to be reminded of: everyone deserves to be loved.
Based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the movie’s soundtrack includes over 50 songs woven into the background, spanning six decades and capturing the movie’s message in a way that had us moving along with the beat in our seats…and singing all the way home. “Got a …. strange ma-ag-ic….got a…strange ma-ag-ic…” From The Doors to Lady Gaga to Burt Bacharach and Whitney Houston, the soundtrack is catchy and perfect. (And it’s available on iTunes.)
Elijah Kelley, who plays “Sunny,” and Meredith Ann Bull, who plays “Dawn,” took time out of their busy schedule to sit with us and several other bloggers/press members to answer our questions about the movie and themselves. (The movie has a stellar cast of names you’ll recognize — Alan Cumming, Evan Rachel Wood, Sam Palladio, Kristin Chenoweth, Maya Rudolph and Alfred Molina, among many others.) We were seated near the end of the table and while my kid reporter (my 14-year-old son, sort of a teen reporter?) won’t admit it, he sat up a little bit straighter when he realized that put us very near Meredith and Elijah. He ended up being right next to Meredith and he whispered “Mom. She’s so pretty!” <Honey, focus on the movie!> So cute. He likes to tell me he wasn’t nervous but if only I could get him to pay that much attention to me or chores…
Here he is, with his list of questions, listening to Meredith and Elijah speak and deciding when to ask his first question.
Elijah and Meredith were wonderful to talk with. They were engaging, open and so willing to interact with us and all the other kid reporters. (Those kids are sharp! The questions they fired were smart and well thought out! I was so impressed and they made the afternoon even better.) Elijah and Meredith were so welcoming to us all and took individual photos.
What a wonderful opportunity for me and my kid reporter! It was so worth the trip from here in the Inland Empire. We’d also made the trip out the night before to see Strange Magic. We loved every minute of it and can’t wait for the rest of the family to see it! It flies by and the story line of a magic potion creation and adventure gone wrong will pull you in.
Sunny the Elf is a feisty character and he sort of wears his heart on his tiny sleeves; his dedication to his best friend, Dawn, is evident from the beginning. Their “Everything Little Thing Gonna Be Alright” (or “Three Little Birds,” a less commonly known name for the “Don’t worry…about a thing…” lyrics by Bob Marley) dance was so much fun to watch. Their relationship is a special one showing that sometimes it takes a little misadventure, and a powerful potion or shake up in life to notice just how special the people in your life truly are or to fall in love.
The settings in the movie are spectacular, as is everything George Lucas touches, and all the scenes are magical, from the dark forest to the meadows. (And I’d really like someone to come do my makeup as edgy and fun as Marianne’s! Her purple eyeshadow!)
Below is a brief, candid video I took during the visit — followed by some other highlights from the interview session.
Q: What was your favorite song from the movie?
Both Elijah and Meredith said “Three Little Birds.”
Q: How do you think you relate to your characters the most in the movie?
E: Well, you’re obviously smarter than me. <That little kid reporter was fantastic!> I think I relate to my character because he’s resilient, tough, he doesn’t let fear overtake him. He has all these great big obstacles because he wants to get the love potion for his friend, Dawn, and he doesn’t let anything stop him from doing that. He has a little crush on her, and you already know what happens at the end of the movie, right?
Q for Elijah: It (the press kit) states you were a professional dancer. What kind of dancing do you do and how’d you learn?
E: Who said that? Where’d you get your information? (Lots of laughter.) Because I know a lot of professional dancers, I would never consider myself professionally dancer, but I have danced professionally danced on a very high level. I was able to sing and dance in a movie called Hair Spray and from that, people thought I was a great dancer, but I have never had any formal training. I have just a little bit of soul, brother…
Q: Did you get to choose the songs for the movie?
E: No, we’re not that powerful.
M: And we actually sang and recorded a lot of songs that aren’t in the movie. We looked at over 400 songs. (That’s a lot of work that ends up in compacted in 99 minutes!)
Q for Meredith: It stated that you had your first commercial voiceover at the age of 12. What was the first voiceover that you had?
M: Hmm, I don’t know if that’s right. I think the first thing I did was a commercial for a bank, and then I did a bunch of video games, Thrillville, I don’t know if you guys know of that video game. Then I kept doing commercials.
And a wonderful response from Elijah that is so part of the purpose of the movie:
I’m barely 5’8”, so I didn’t even know my stature. I didn’t even know what my stature was and I literally thought in my head that was I as big as they were, so my confidence came at a very young age. I feel that fear is something that everybody has. It’s when you succumb to fear, that it becomes a problem. And I think that the problem Sunny is so small in stature and never succumbs to fear, even though he’s scared out of his mind in every single thing that he does…he doesn’t let fear stop him.
Each character in Strange Magic is uniquely created, though maybe slightly inspired by a Midsummer Night’s Dream and Kristen Chenoweth as the Sugar Plum Fairy will have you laughing. While I happen to love the Imp and want one of my own, the mushrooms, the goblins and every creature is lovable, even those you wouldn’t think about…which may just be the biggest point in the whole movie, one you’ve understood before you even realize there is a point. That’s the sign of a remarkable movie.
Marianne, the older sister with a steadfast, protective focus and dedication towards her family but a hard shell towards love, meets her match with the Bog King, the anti-love ‘evil’ king with a face his mother truly loves. (And the goblin there? No spoilers but you’ll get a kick out of a conversation at the end of the movie.)
This movie poster gives you a good idea of many of the lead characters of Strange Magic cast, but you have to go see the movie to learn more about them!
This is the autographed press sheet photo we came home with. The expressions shown are so indicative of the characters and I loved Sunny from the second I saw him in the trailer/featurette for that scene.
Love truly is strange magic!