I had the great privilege of attending the world premiere of Disney Pixar’s BRAVE in Los Angeles earlier this week. One of the highlights of my trip was interviewing the cast and directors of the movie. Kelly Macdonald who does the voice of Merida in BRAVE was a favorite actress of mine even before I saw BRAVE, thanks to her portrayal of Margaret in the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire”. Kelly was lovely and very gracious on the day our group of bloggers interviewed her.
Photo Credit: Louise Bishop
Q. How did you channel your inner teenager?
Kelly: Um, uh, I — to be honest I didn’t — I didn’t really think about it when I first went in and to — to, you know, when I first went in it wasn’t really like an audition s– situation. They — they asked me to go in and — and read a couple of pages. And, uh, I kinda thought, “I’ll go in and do that.” And I hadn’t really thought about the fact she was a teenager. It was when I got there they told me all about the character.
And then I suddenly was [LAUGHS] in front of a microphone going — and I didn’t quite know what I was gonna do. And then, um, and I think the dialogue just really helped because, you know, she’s — she’s — most of her dialogue is directed to her mom in a — in a very obnoxious teenage way. And so it kind of — as soon as I started saying the word “mom” [LAUGHS] I was like right back to being a [LAUGHS] teenager. [LAUGHS] Which is what happens when I go home as well. So yeah.
I’m looking forward to my mother seeing the film. I think she — I think she’ll be a nervous wreck when she comes out. [LAUGHS]
Q. Were you excited to pay homage to Scotland on the screen for us Americans to learn more about your country?
Kelly: After the fact I am. I didn’t think about it while I was working. But, um, you know, when I was watching the film I — I kind of despite myself had a sort of swelling of national pride, you know. You can’t help it. It’s like all those, um, movies, you know, uh, especially set in Scotland’s like “Highlander” and “Braveheart” and all these things. They’ve got the music right. And I think the soundtrack really helps you to sort of, you know, feel things.
Q. Playing Pixar’s first heroine and were there any challenges you faced?
Kelly: Well I — I kind of didn’t know about it too mu– I didn’t think about it very much. And, no, I didn’t know about it. [LAUGHS] Like I — I was just working on a movie. And then it was — it was someway into it someone mentioned, “Oh yeah, she’s the first female Pixar protagonist.” And so it was a bit of a surprise, but it didn’t alter anything for me and the way I felt about the project or — I just — I mean, uh, it slightly took me aback that I — I for a second I felt a bit of pressure.
Like, “Oh no, am I gonna ruin the whole franci–, [OVERLAP] you know, the Pixar. Uh, but I, uh, uh, you know, I think they — they just do such a good job. And — and I’m just really lucky to be a part of — of anything that they do.
Q. What do you hope girls will take from this character?
Kelly: I think the biggest thing — I don’t think about Merida as being a princess particularly. I think that’s just — she happens to be a princess. Um, but it’s not who she — who she is. And I think the biggi– the biggest thing is that Merida’s, uh, uh, a teenage girl, um, who makes some bad choices. And, um, she doesn’t — she doesn’t need a prince to come in and rescue her and make it all better. Like she — she acknowledges she’s made mistakes.
And then she — she sets out to try and, um, repair the damage she’s done. And she apologizes. It’s a big thing, apologizing. Uh, and uh, I think that’s the — I think that’s the real message.
Q. Were you able to relate personally to such a strong character?
Kelly: Um, well I think something about my personal– I must have quite a strong personality. I don’t — I don’t, um, I’m not overtly sort of, um, I’m not aggressively sort of, uh, [LAUGHS] anything. Um, uh, but I — I kind of — I — I — I’ve known what I wanted to do and I’m doing it. So I must have had some sort of drive. And I think the characters I play have usually it’s like an inner drive. With Merida it’s outwards and she’s very vocal about it.
And she is– much more feisty, uh, openly feisty than — than characters that I normally play. Margaret, um, on “Boardwalk Empire” — she started out, uh, you know, you feel like she’s — she’s — she’s this very trustworthy kinda good — goody two — goody two shoes kinda, um, prim woman. And it turns out she’s kinda not. [LAUGHS] She’s not that. And she — she, uh, she’s definitely got an agenda.
Q. What was your favorite scene in the movie?
Kelly: Um, well I — I kinda — I love the montage where — where she’s, uh, she’s seeing her mother in a different light. Um, when she’s teaching her mother how to fend for herself in the wild. And her mother — the m– the bear. And, uh, I j– I just think that — that montage is really lovely. And I really liked, um, at the very beginning of the film when she’s saying, “This is my life and this is what I do and this is my perfect day.”
And she — she gets on Angus and she rides out the castle to — to sort of have her ideal day. And I just think like that kinda made me like tearful for some reason. [LAUGHS] Ohh, you know. Uh, yeah. I like the whole thing. I have to see it again. I can’t wait. [LAUGHS]
Q. In your son’s eyes has your coolness factor gone up?
Kelly: He’s sor– it’s funny, you know, he kinda knows all about it. I don’t think if there was a moment where he thought maybe mommy’s a bit kill, my husband ruined it by kinda mimicking me doing Merida in the trailers. You know, so now when he — he thinks of Merida he thinks of my husband doing Merida, uh, in the kitchen which is not — it’s not the real thing. But I kind of, um, there’s a little girl in his nursery that is freaking me out because she’s totally — like her mom’s obviously told her about the film.
And I play the voice of this character. And she’s just like she’ll be [LAUGHS] I live in New York. And she’ll be like way across the roads on her way to nursery in the stroller. And she’s like, “HI KELLY!” You know, like screaming at me across traffic. And I’m like, “Hello!” And then she wouldn’t let the conversation go. I have to stand there while she’s [LAUGHS] [UNINTELLIGIBLE] stand in the street and still yelling at me. And, um, she’s sort of looking at me with all sort of, uh, star struck eyes which is a bit weird. Um, but ma– my — my son’s not like that. [LAUGHS]
Q. Were you asked to pronounce your words differently for an American audience?
Kelly: Well I’ve — I — I’ve got quite — I mean you might disagree [LAUGHS] but I’ve got — my accent’s quite soft and quite easy to understand compared to a lot of Scots. And but, you know, playing Merida I was playing her younger. And she’s very — a lot of it was, you know, she was really upset or being very energetic. And that would kinda make my accent a bit stronger. So there were certain times that the — the, uh, producer would say, “You’re gonna have to,” you know, maybe, uh, like I might roll my R’s a bit much in a word.
And just for a wider audience they wanted it to be — but I’m sure the boys had much more trouble than I did with that. [LAUGHS]
Kelly MacDonald and the #BraveCarsLaneEvent Bloggers
Photo Credit: Louise Bishop
Disney Pixar’s BRAVE is in theaters everywhere on June 22, 2012!
Disney/Pixar provided me with travel and accommodations. All thoughts are my own.