Interview with George Lucas and Strange Magic Cast Evan Rachel Wood, Alan Cumming, Elijah Kelly, Sam Palladio and Meredith Anne Bull #StrangeMagic
After attending a press screening for Strange Magic, I couldn't wait to interview the cast. To learn more about how the movie was developed, I joined a press junket for Strange Magic which included interviewing George Lucas (Executive Producer) and the cast including Evan Rachel Wood (voice of “Marianne”), Alan Cumming (voice of “Bog King”), Elijah Kelly (voice of “Sunny”), Sam Palladio (voice of “Roland”), Meredith Anne Bull (voice of “Dawn”)
Note: I was invited as media to the press screening and interview. No other compensation was received. Any personal views expressed are always 100% my own.
As I waited for the interview with George Lucas, I was ready to hear the Star Wars theme as he entered the room. But instead he entered to clapping and maybe a few "Oh my god, I can't believe I'm in the same room as George Lucas!" Maybe a few. Including mine.
But George Lucas was very down to earth and ready to talk about the process of making Strange Magic, which took about 15 years!
George Lucas: What I wanted to do is tell a story using lyrics from existing songs. The first 10 years was spent developing the characters, trying to get the animation to do what we exactly wanted it to do and take it to the next step. Also trying to weave all this stuff together.
Then it was the last five years where Gary (Rydstrom), Marius (de Vries), and all the other guys came in and we started casting and putting in actors. But the driving force was, can the lyrics tell the story. And what the story was, was determined by the scene between the Bog King and Marianne.
And the scene between the Bog King and Marianne are awesome and really leads the storytelling. Between the sword fighting and musical battling, I really took an interest in the Bog King. Seriously Alan Cumming did an amazing job voicing him. I wanted to know how George was inspired to write such a character so of course I asked. Which led to a special moment between me and George Lucas.
George Lucas: *leans over the table, looks directly at me and says....* Can you say that once again and louder
Onica (MommyFactor): *trying to be louder* The movie show a scary but also beautiful side of the Bog King and his World. What was your inspiration?
George Lucas: There's the dark world and the light world. And in world, rather then the dark side of the force and the light side of the force, it has to do with the fairies and their happiness and the ones that are unhappy. Because if your mean your unhappy. That's why your mean in the first place.
I wanted the Bog King to be as ugly as I could possible make him. So we took a prying mantis and a cockroach. I said we're not going to use a real animal. We're going to make up ones to make the ugliest things you can possibly find.
And then of course everyone went berserk and said how can you possibly do this. You have a cute little butterfly fairy and THIS. There was a lot of skepticism about if this idea would work at all. to me it comes together. It works.
George Lucas: We made this most disgusting person we can create, be lovable. And have her kiss him without you saying that's not even credible. Because it is credible. You know why they love each other. You know why they're together.
For me, having gone through an experience in life where I got married, got divorced, then adopted a bunch of kids and went on and was a bachelor for 20 years. But I wanted to get married again but knew the people I was going out with, they weren't the people I'd marry. And I thought I'd never find that person. I literally had given up and said this is never going to happen.
And then I met my wife who is completely opposite of me in every possible way. But inside we're exactly the same. It's eery that we're so much the same. While this was about 8 years ago. It did influence things. To say love is strange. It just is. It's like this funny thing that happens.
Indeed love is strange! And in Strange Magic love brings together some amazing duos. The Cast were next to be interviewed about their characters along with Director Gary Rydstrom and Musical director/ Composer Marius de Vries.
Since this is a musical, I asked the cast what they're favorite song from the movie was and they all agreed it was "Strange Magic" so get ready for the sound track to release.
Alan Cumming jokingly said " I think it's got one of those ya know. Years ago, there was a film where they put certain things on a CD that puts a spell on young people to buy things. I think there's a similar spell in that song. It's got some obsessive, you can't stop singing it. The world will become obsessed with that song"
I admit, it's a great song. But beside sharing their favorite tune, the cast also spoke about...
Gary Rydstrom: shared that the Singapore animators drew a lot from the sound of the voices of the characters. They can actually get a lot of great ideas from that. In addition we video taped the actors when they were acting so we can get the facial expressions and movements.
Meredith Anne Bull (voice of “Dawn”): We can't see ourselves while we're acting. But I think as an actor it's lot easier to watch yourselves animated then on screen. So I'm able to enjoy her because it's not just "me".
Sam Palladio (voice of “Roland”): For me the whole process was such a fantastic freeing experience from working on the stage and television and film. Everyone was just so open and warm to our interpretations and improvisations. To see those little jokes and mannerisms come to life is really special. It's my first time doing it and I can't wait to sit down and enjoy the whole thing.
Evan Rachel Wood (voice of “Marianne”): I'm such a huge fan of animated films and a Disney fanatic. So I was really excited to lend my voice to a story and character like this that I thought would be a great role model for girls. But it is strange because you pick up on little pieces of yourself in the characters.
Alan Cumming (voice of “Bog King”): It's funny to see yourself in an animated form. Also I think the funniest must be the video of us acting. Every line you do, every song is videos by a camera.
Elijah Kelly (voice of “Sunny”): We have an incredible animation team in Singapore and Gary directs the tremendously. It's just really interesting to see.
Marius de Vries: I was very involved. It's not something I hadn't done before. However there's an amount of splicing when your spanning decades and crossing styles as much as we were. It can be extraordinary challenging. But trail and error. We recorded maybe 400 songs in the process of arriving at this.
It was so fun to interview the cast. The excitement about their characters came through and is well placed. Strange Magic tells a classic tale in a new and exciting way. Get ready to see it in theaters on January 23, 2015
“Strange Magic,” a new animated film from Lucasfilm Ltd., is a madcap fairy tale musical inspired by “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” Popular songs from the past six decades help tell the tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion.
Lucasfilm Animation Singapore and Industrial Light & Magic bring to life the fanciful forest turned upside down with world-class animation and visual effects.
Directed by Gary Rydstrom (“Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation,” “Lifted”) from a story by George Lucas, “Strange Magic” will be released by Touchstone Pictures on Jan. 23, 2015.
To learn more about, Strange Magic visit - www.strangemagic-thefilm.com
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