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Toonzone Presents "Tinker Bell & the Great Fairy Rescue" Roundtable Interviews

On August 27, 2010, Toonzone News was able to catch up with some of the cast and crew members for the new Disney DVD release, Tinker Bell And The Great Fairy Rescue in Los Angeles.

*Please note that the following interview sessions were in a roundtable format. Questions asked by Toonzone News will be labeled as such. These roundtable interviews contain minor spoilers for the movie.*

ROUNDTABLE INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL SHEEN
Michael SheenA theatrically trained actor from Port Talbot, Wales, Michael Sheen has recently gained acclaim for his portrayal of David Frost in the Academy Award nominated Frost/Nixon, and as Tony Blair in The Queen. Sheen has also played the character of Lucien in the Underworld movie franchise and recently voiced the White Rabbit in Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland. Later this year, Sheen will be appearing as Castor in the big budget extravaganza, Tron: Legacy. In Tinker Bell And The Great Fairy Rescue, Sheen voices the character of Dr. Griffiths.

What’s the typical approach when you get something like this in voice-over work?

MICHAEL SHEEN: There is no typical approach for me because I’ve only done a few of these sort of things. It’s the same as on anything really: read the script, try to get a handle on the story and the character, and then show up and just try and take direction well. The main thing obviously with this kind of thing is you’re not with other actors. So you’re on your own somewhere so you have to rely on the director a lot more. Normally on a film, I have my own quite strong sense of what I’m going to do and what I’m going to try and kind of explore, but you have to put yourself in the hands of the director a lot more. And [director] Brad [Raymond] is a lovely man. If you are going to put yourself in the hands of anyone, he’s a lovely man to do it. Also, he played Lizzie for me in the sound studio, so when you meet him, just imagine him as 12 year old girl.

Can you tell us about your character and how thrilling doing this is for your daughter, Lily? Will this be one of the few you’ve done she’ll really like?

MICHAEL SHEEN: Well no, there’s been a few, right. Twilight films, Alice In Wonderland, she’s on a roll. The character is Dr. Griffiths and he’s a man where work and the responsibilities of the adult world allow him to become disconnected to the outside world and his daughter. And she is feeling the effects. He’s a single father. There’s no mother around, so I think Lizzie is feeling a little bit lonely and a little bit lost and disconnected from her dad. That’s then exacerbated by her discovering this extraordinary thing and the fairies, this magical world that she wants to be able to share with her father. He’s very blocked to it. So the journey for them as a father and daughter is for them to kind of connect with each other again through this world of the fairies, which is lovely. To watch my daughter grow up, one of my favorite things is to sit and watch a film with her. So there’s going to be a lot of parents who are going to be sitting and watching this film with their children. And you know, it’s a nice gentle reminder to make sure that you don’t miss out on how wonderful it is to have a child by getting caught up in other things that are ultimately not that important.

How challenging is that or how wonderful is that for you with your daughter, having such an incredible career?

MICHAEL SHEEN: Well, I think it’s a balance that every parent has to find whether you’re doing a 9 to 5 job at home and coming home from work and just wanting to sit down on the sofa and watch TV or something. Even though my job takes me away from my daughter, when I am with her, the time is really important. I know I want it to be the best for her and for us. I think every parent struggles with finding that balance. It’s a difficult balance to strike. You’ve got to be guided by each other I think. When I am away, I try to speak to Lily every day and let her know that I’m thinking of her and that I miss her and hopefully stay a presence in her life. But it’s an ongoing thing . . . especially when career-wise lots of things are happening that you’ve always wanted to happen. I want Lily to have as an example as a parent, someone who is enjoying their work and passionate about their work. At the same time I don’t want it to be something that takes me away from her too much. So it’s a balance.

TOONZONE NEWS: Has the experience of playing the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland and now playing this character made you want to try more voice-over work or more voice-over animation work?

MICHAEL SHEEN: Yeah. I think that it’s fantastic. I’ve always wanted to be able to do stuff like that. I’ve done a lot of that stuff in Britain, but to be able to work with Disney is amazing. These are great stories. Alice in Wonderland is obviously a classic; the Tinker Bell stories are part of the kind of bigger Peter Pan world. Peter Pan is something that had a huge effect on me growing up. I’d love to be able to do more of this kind of thing, yeah. I love playing characters. I try not to be limited by what I look like anyway, but you’re even less limited by [animation] . . . Doing a voice-over you can play anything. So it seems like a natural progression for me.

Lizzy and Dr. GriffithsTZN: Also, what is it like now getting to do a lot of genre material now that you are also doing Tron: Legacy and being exposed to the geek culture and the fan convention phenomenon? What’s it like for you coming from your British theatrical training background to be exposed to this world?

MICHAEL SHEEN: Well it’s not a new thing. I think the first Underworld film was in 2002 maybe. And it’s not something I feel like I’m recently exposed to. All my favorite stuff is sci-fi and fantasy, so being able to be a part of things like Tron, Twilight, and Underworld is much closer to where my art lies in the sort of stuff I watch and read. So again, it doesn’t seem to me like much of a new thing. The actual new thing is being exposed to the supposedly high-brow culture of you know, The Queen, Frost/Nixon, and all that. I’m a nerdy geek. The holiday is going and doing the supposedly high-class stuff. As an actor I want to do challenging roles, and the more challenging roles tend to be in the dramas and all that kind of stuff. But I love all that stuff, but my heart is completely in the Comic-Con crowd.

What else have you been working on recently?

MICHAEL SHEEN: Well, I just finished doing Woody Allen’s film, A Night In Paris that we shot—surprisingly—in Paris. So I just finished doing that which is great. I’m not sure when that is coming out. I’ve got a film called Beautiful Boy that will be on at the Toronto Film Festival. And then Tron: Legacy is coming out the end of the year, and we’re kind of sorting out the whole – the Breaking Dawn, the Twilight – in the middle, trying to make all that work out. So all that’s going on.

What’s the character you are playing in A Night In Paris?

MICHAEL SHEEN: He’s an American on holiday in Paris and someone who thinks of himself as incredibly cultured, would’ve seen all my Frost/Nixon and The Queen films.

How do you find Woody Allen?

MICHAEL SHEEN: Great, yeah, lovely. Such an icon of cinema, and being able to work with him is amazing. I went to see the first Tron film when I was 11, I think. If someone went up to me and said, “You’re going to be in the sequel to this,” I would’ve been amazed. If someone would’ve went up to me after I saw Manhattan and said, “You’re going to work with Woody Allen one day,” I’d have been amazed. The first time I saw Peter Pan, the Disney film, “One day you’re going to play a character that flies over the rooftops of London and change the time on Big Ben,” all these things are just amazing to me and to experience them.

You’ve probably been asked a lot about being from Port Talbot and following in the footsteps of Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins, who are also from Port Talbot. What is it about Port Talbot? You’re now being called the best British actor of your generation following in their footsteps. Do you feel a mantle of responsibility?

MICHAEL SHEEN: It’s certainly a thrill to be talked about in that way and talked about in the same breath as people like Burton and Hopkins. As to why the town produces them, I have absolutely no idea. I know Tony was inspired by Burton, and I was inspired by Tony and Burton. So there’s that, but aside from that I have no idea why that particular town would do that. But I know that the town is very dear to me and I’m doing a massive project there next year, next Easter, doing a kind of re-telling of the story “The Passion of Christ” and using the whole town to tell the story and the community of the town to be a part of it. So the town has a big hold on me, and I think it’s the same for Tony. His 70th birthday party a couple of years back, which I went to, that was lovely. And Burton kept going back and was always drawn back there. So there’s a very particular thing about the town, but as to why it produces actors, I don’t know.

Yeah, how DID you decide on Lily? Not that there's anything wrong with that name.How did you decide on naming your daughter Lily?

MICHAEL SHEEN: Well originally, I think we were thinking of calling her Ruby. We liked the idea of names from an older generation that weren’t used anymore, and so sort of decided on Ruby. Then she was born, and she just didn’t look like a Ruby. We were thinking about names at the hospital, and we were talking about Lily and we liked the name Lily, and we weren’t sure. And then there was a knock on the door. Someone was delivering flowers that had been sent, and they were lilies. So that’s how she got it. And although she doesn’t like the name now, she keeps trying to change it all the time.

How does Lily cope with having two ludicrously famous, brilliant actors as parents?

MICHAEL SHEEN: She’s never really known anything different. Kate [Beckinsale]‘s father was a famous actor as well. So Lily has kind of grown up with it. I think the surprise was when she realized that I was an actor. I don’t think she quite knew what I did. I don’t think she really cared what I did. But her mum was the famous actress. It’s been quite a revelation to her over the last few years, “Oh actually, Daddy is quite well known as well.”

Would you have any reservations about her following the same career path as an actress?

MICHAEL SHEEN: I just want her to be able to do something that she’s passionate about. I feel very grateful that I’ve been able to do something with my life that I enjoy doing so much, and I get so much out of, and other people get something out of. So I think being able to do something that you are passionate about and that you enjoy and that you never get jaded about is a real privilege. I hope that she has that opportunity, regardless of what it is. Obviously, I think if your child wants to do the same thing as you, you’re aware of all the negative things and you don’t want them to have that, but her path is her path and me and Kate and Len [Wiseman, Lily's stepfather] all feel that we just want to support her in whatever she does. But she’s a very good writer, so a part of me would really love it to be that because her mum’s a frustrated writer, and I’m a frustrated writer. So it’d be great if Lily was to do that, but hopefully we won’t do that thing of living vicariously through our daughter.

Do you spoil her a lot, or are you a really strict dad since she lives in LA?

MICHAEL SHEEN: She’s aware that she’s very lucky and that she has a lot of material comforts and stuff. So she’s very good about regulating herself and that kind of thing. I do spoil her terribly because I’m away a lot because I don’t get to live with her, and so when I am with her it’s hard not to spoil her. But hopefully I’ve got a good mixture and same with Kate as well of being kind of disciplined and structured . . .

You said you are a frustrated writer. Why are you frustrated?

MICHAEL SHEEN: Well because I’ve always wanted to write and fortunately I guess I’ve always been too busy to do it. The acting has kind of always kept me busy. And it’s something that I’m starting to do more of now, and something that I want to do more of as well.

Books or screenplays?

MICHAEL SHEEN: Screenplays, yeah, yeah. There’s lot of things I’m sort of developing at the moment, and some of them involve me writing. So now I’m having to discipline myself and put the time aside because it’s a very different thing turning up, and I keep asking all my writer friends, “How do you do it? Do you just sit down and write all day or do you wait for inspiration to come?” and all that. And they say, “If you wait for inspiration to come, you’ll never do anything.”

Tink is cute and Iridessa is sweet, but Vidia is really hotTZN: I’m so excited about Tron: Legacy and I’ve waited years to see another Tron movie. I was in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con in 2008 and saw the concept test footage. How did the experience come about where you got cast in your role? And is your role a computer program, and how did you like wearing that costume?

MICHAEL SHEEN: Yeah, I am a program in the Tron world. I play a nightclub, host, entertainer guy who has sort of got his fingers in lots of electronic pipes. He’s a real kind of larger than life, over the top showman character. The producer Sean Bailey got in touch and asked if I would be interested in coming in and talking to them about this character. And I was so excited that I would’ve said yes to anything to be honest. But my agents kept saying, “Oh you can’t say that because we’ve got to do a deal!” So I had to pretend, “Maybe I would. Maybe I wouldn’t.” And I went down to Disney and Joe [Kosinski] the director and Sean the producer did a big presentation on the screen and talked to me through all the scenes and showed me the artwork and all that kind of stuff. And I had to kind of go, “Hmm. Yeah,” and not give anything away, while inside I was going, “YEAHHH!!!” So that was it. They showed me the test footage that got shown at Comic-Con. Like I said, I watched the first one when I was about 11 or 12, and I’d have done anything to be in the next one. So, I’m glad that it worked out well. I think its going to be an amazing film and I enjoyed doing it. Although the costumes were a nightmare because they were so uncomfortable. You know you suffer for your art, don’t you?

TZN: It seems in many ways our digital world has caught up with Tron. What do you think about where we are right now?

MICHAEL SHEEN: Hmm. Well the weird thing is, the more technology advances, the more it gets like acting when you were a kid. You spend a lot of time not with other actors, or you spend a lot of time where everything around you looks nothing like what its going to look like because everything is CG, and all that kind of stuff. So it’s much more like being in your bedroom when you’re a kid and pretending you’re fighting on an alien planet or whatever. It’s exactly what you have to do as an actor. I know Ewan McGregor talked about when he was doing the Star Wars stuff saying that, “It was really weird when you have to kind of be there with no one around. It’s just green screen everywhere.” But then when he got to pick his lightsaber, it was like being a kid again. It is like that. It’s much closer to a kind of purer form of acting in a way, when you haven’t got as much around you to play with. It’s just an interesting paradox in that the more technology advances, the more it gets like it was when you were a kid in your bedroom.


ROUNDTABLE INTERVIEW WITH RAVEN-SYMONÉ
Raven-SymonéToonzone News also got the chance to participate in a roundtable interview with actress, singer, and song-writer, Raven-Symoné. Symone started way back in The Cosby Show as Olivia. She’s also well known for her role as Gabriella in The Cheetah Girls movies and as Raven Baxter in her TV series, That’s So Raven. In animation, Raven voiced Monique in the hit animated TV series Kim Possible, and plays Iridessa in all the Tinker Bell movies.

TOONZONE NEWS: How do you like going into the voice-over world and getting to do cartoon animation?

RAVEN-SYMONÉ: I like it a lot because I don’t have to put on makeup. I can go to work in my pajamas. And I get to act super crazy and no one really gets to see me. I get to voice a character that is adorable and controls the sun pretty much, and that’s cool.

How much input did you have in creating the character when you have the voice?

RAVEN-SYMONÉ: I will say this: *In a high-pitched voice* I practiced my fairy voice the whole entire time! I was so excited! And then I showed up and they were like, “That’s not going to work. We just want to hear your voice. Here’s what the character is.” And that’s fine for me. The character was well thought out beforehand. She was drawn. All of her little antics were already in the mix on the script, so all I had to do was just put a little *miumiumiu* on it. It’s cool when you come into a situation like that because you see the dream before it’s actually realized, and it’s not a lot of thinking on my part actually. Unlike when you do That’s So Raven for instance, or any of the other characters, you do have to come from scratch and see what part of you you want to reveal, but she was very easy.

Does this role take you back to your childhood memories at all?

RAVEN-SYMONÉ: I’ve never done a voiceover when I was a child. I mean . . . the answer you would like to hear is yes I did watch Peter Pan. I was reading scripts going to bed *laughs*. That’s the honest answer. Now the PC answer is, but this is the truth too: I had VHS of all the Disney movies when I was younger. And when I wasn’t watching Janet Jackson’s Greatest Videos or Mary Poppins, I was watching the animation because that was the only thing I was allowed to watch when I was a child. So this definitely . . . it didn’t really bring back memories, it kind of rounded out all the things that I thought about her because no one knew behind the scenes the story of Tink. Like she was just chilling with Peter Pan and now she’s a full-fledged movie star, so . . .

OK, Fawn goes long for the fakeout while Silvermist hits the flea flicker. Break!If you had a magical power what would it be?

RAVEN-SYMONÉ: In general…well, they coincide because I think I have an issue. I’d be an alchemist, most definitely. I would be creating gold because everyone is sending in gold for cash and I think we all need our gold back.

Was there anything about the character that you learned you can use in life?

RAVEN-SYMONÉ: Well, she was brand-new. She was never even thought of before the story of Tinker Bell and how she came to be was even brought to life. Actually, it’s kind of cool because it coincides with humans. Inside of you, she has this innate power to Tinker. Everyone has a talent, a dream inside of them. The cool thing that they show in the first Tinker Bell DVD is how you choose that. They put a whole bunch of stuff in front of you, and whatever illuminates comes to life. I think that’s something that I learned visually like that through there, but it solidified what my parents always did. Like my parents put me in front of a piano with lessons. I was like, “Uhhh, that’s not illuminating.” The kitchen illuminated and the TV did, but nothing else illuminated so I think everyone can kind of take a little bit of what they can learn from the DVD and the story and put it into real life.

TZN: What is Iridessa’s relationship like with Tinker Bell in this story and what is Iridessa’s role?

RAVEN-SYMONÉ: Iridessa and Tinker Bell. Iridessa is the kind of girl in school who’s safe. She’s not going to skip class. She’s going to make sure all her homework is done. She is friends with Tinker Bell or the adventurer, but she’s kind of that voice of reason. But I think, they haven’t touched on it, this is my own personal mindset, and she still goes with Tink on all the adventures because she doesn’t want to get her friend in trouble. I think she kind of wants to see too and that’s her way of being adventurous because every shy girl has a little special underneath. So she’s the one that tries to create some reason in Tink’s mind.

Do you see any similarities with yourself and Iridessa? Because with your career you have kind of played it safe, and that’s great because you are always in your career associated with good, wholesome projects? But do you worry about that as you get older, being typecast into this role of playing wholesome characters?

RAVEN-SYMONÉ: There are two answers to that. My role, Iridessa, and me. The way that we’re similar: I’m a person who likes to play it safe. However, I am the person who has the friend and I say, “Why don’t you check what’s behind the corner. I’ll stay here and watch out,” so that I don’t get in trouble. But I do want to know what’s behind the corner. Talking about my career, I’m not trying to play it safe. I like to play roles that I’m comfortable showing my grandchildren when I have them. We have to understand that I’m only 24 years old and I was raised in Atlanta, Georgia, by two parents who don’t play. I don’t want to get in trouble at 24 because that is possible with my parents. As I grow up, hopefully the industry will understand how I was raised and how I will not compromise my respectability just to be in a role. But as I grow up, there will be roles that I would like to play and hopefully will not be typecast because of my younger days. I mean at 15, I didn’t want to kiss a boy until later so why would I kiss him [right now onscreen]. You know what I’m saying? I do what I am comfortable with on stage. And until I’m comfortable, then I’m not going to do it.

For instance, not that you asked, but I have to tell the story because it’s hilarious. I was doing the first Cheetah Girls and in the story, in the scene I had to kiss Kyle. And it was funny because toot toot toot I’m normally very professional. You want me to do something? I’m down, let’s do it. I could not kiss him. I couldn’t. It took 10 takes. You can ask Oz and the producer. I couldn’t do it. And turned around and I went, “Olivia doesn’t kiss anybody,” like I’m not used to this. I don’t do this. And I had to get used to it. For a long time, I didn’t do a lot of roles because, “Hey you’re going to fall in love with a boy. You’re going to kiss him!” I’m like, “Why?! I don’t kiss boys like that. That’s gross and they have bumps on their lip!” Like why I would do that?

Raven and her adoring publicBecause you’re an actress.

RAVEN-SYMONÉ: Well I’m me first. I just happened to choose acting as a career. And then I got a little bit more comfortable. On my show, I got to choose the boy and they were cute, so I was like OK. So now that I’m a little bit older and going out and enjoying myself, not being very respectful, I’m OK with it. I will choose roles that I am more comfortable doing as I get older.

TZN: What’s it like when you’re younger and growing up in Hollywood as an actress? What keeps you grounded as a person?

RAVEN-SYMONÉ: I was taught at a very young age that this is a job. This is my equivalent to a 9 to 5. I can get fired at any time. There will be times when I don’t get hired. There will be times that people judge you and they still do. Now that the blogs are out, they irritate me sometimes because people don’t realize that they’re talking about human beings. They’re just talking about these people that are made for their enjoyment. And we do have a family. For instance, my mom reads all the blogs, so I get calls when people talk about me. “Why’d you do this?!” I didn’t! You known me my whole life, do you really think that happened? “No, but they said!” Who are they?! Who are they and how do they know?! You have a key to my house and my room which we have to talk about anyway, so what’s going on? Do you know what I’m saying? I don’t understand. It’s ridiculous actually. Sorry, what was your second question?

TZN: What keeps you grounded?

RAVEN-SYMONÉ: My parents and my friends. I actually just told this story on the phone, but when I was 13 I lied to my parents about a party. And I really didn’t lie. They just thought I did. They just figured that out later after I was on punishment for a year. I couldn’t do anything for a whole entire year. And it’s funny because I was so waiting for it, and the day I got off punishment was the day I started principal filming on Doctor Dolittle. I was so happy. I was like, “Oh, I’m in California and I’m off punishment?!” Bring it on! It was awesome. Oh, it didn’t get better than that. But I was on punishment for a year, and they do not play still. My mom will call me and I will get butterflies. I’m scared.

Are there things from the Tinker Bell movie you can connect with the real world?

RAVEN-SYMONÉ: How she looks at things. She actually can teach us how to be more open-minded about things and more accepting. And question it not in a, “I can’t believe this can’t be the way,” but more of a, “I wonder if…” instead of closing our minds to it. Its funny, someone asked me about how there were so many different nationalities in this movie, and I said, “The people in my generation already look at life like that. I think it’s more the adults – and please I understand our history and everything definitely, but I think we need to start opening our minds a little bit more and realizing what’s going on. If Tinker Bell—one of the oldest characters that Disney ever created—can keep her mind open about so many different things and teach her friends, how come we can’t do that in real life? I thought we were supposed to bring what we learn from movies into our lives.

Michael and Raven with FairiesTZN: Earlier you mentioned the blog, and it seems for either you and some of your other colleagues and peers at Disney, as soon as they get on a show it’s open season on these performers. Do you have any advice for them when there are things out there like that in the media?

RAVEN-SYMONÉ: I will give you a very general answer. I stay out of people’s faces. My personal business is my personal business. I stay at home playing videogames. When I do go out and I go party, I go to places I know paparazzi aren’t because I’m there to have fun. What I will say is that you have to remember that this is your career and the way that the industry and the world is shaping itself. One of the writers said, “No one can lie anymore. It’s going to be somewhere.” And the internet is forever. It might evolve but its forever. Print, TV, movies, music will be playing and it’s in the atmosphere for the rest of your life. Do not do anything that you will regret later; otherwise you’re kind of just jacked up. So it depends on what kind of career you want. Do you want to promote your personal life so that you can get roles? Or do you want to promote your talent so that you can get roles?

I like the classic people that when they have a movie – like for instance, Julia Roberts. I haven’t seen her not nowhere, and now her movie came out and now she’s everywhere. She will go away, have a life, come back, do her movies, like that to me and then you get a life. And yes that takes time to understand. But I think also nowadays in the industry, we as human beings who attach ourselves to these figures want to see something bad. Want to see something go wrong. And I don’t understand because that’s not from a loving place and I think we forget how to do that. But I think that also comes with people wanting to be heard and people loving the glitz and glamour of the industry, not realizing there’s more to it. You lose your family. I wrote a poem that says, “Hollywood is thicker than blood. It will come for you hardcore. Stay at home.” Like I have some major parties at home, but nobody will ever know. It’s not their business.


ROUNDTABLE INTERVIEW WITH BRADLEY RAYMOND AND HELEN KALAFATIC
Helen KalafaticIn the last roundtable interview session, Toonzone News got the chance to speak with the movie’s director and co-writer, Bradley Raymond, and producer, Helen Kalafatic. Raymond’s previous credits include The Lion King 1 1/2, Pocahantas II, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame II. Kalafatic has previously worked on such shows as SpongeBob SquarePants, Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot, and Hercules and Xena: The Animated Movie.

TOONZONE NEWS: The movie uses an eclectic voice cast including veteran film actors like Michael Sheen and also veteran voice talent such as Jeff Bennett and Rob Paulsen. What was the casting process like for the movie?

BRADLEY RAYMOND: We were really lucky.

HELEN KALAFATIC: Yeah, we have a great casting department as well. I think that once you have that and the casting department has the ability to bring actors to a director, its really up to the director to decide which person possesses the quality in their voice that they would like to bring into the film, into these characters.

BRADLEY RAYMOND: And then the actors like to create their own voices, like who their characters are, they created out of their own voice. They can’t just act onscreen you know. You mentioned Jeff Bennett and Rob Paulsen. They’re veteran voice-over actors that are just so phenomenal. And then someone like Michael Sheen comes in from live action and you’re expecting, and “Well you know his voice is good but let’s see how he acts as a voice-over actor.” He is phenomenal. He’s every bit as good as them as far as using his voice to act, and it inspires the animators to animate from their voices. So we were really lucky, and it made my job a lot easier.

TZN: Brad, will you be directing any of the other Tinker Bell animated movies?

BRADLEY RAYMOND: No there’s actually another director on the fourth movie. I just did the first and the third so as far as I know, I’m not directing any of them after the first four.

Disney has so many characters. They have main characters and secondary characters. For Peter Pan, Tinker Bell would be a secondary character. What made you want to tell a story for her?

BRADLEY RAYMOND: Well you know, she was my favorite character in Peter Pan. And Peter Pan was a big influence on me because I love wish fulfillment movies. I love stories about characters who you can relate to or ordinary characters who extraordinary things happen to. I love that element. And that’s some of Peter Pan when they meet Peter Pan and Tinker Bell and they get to go to Neverland. So Tinker Bell is this magical character who is a fairy who can make you fly. She has pixie dust flowing off her, she’s little and everything. She’s a magical character, yet she was the most real character in the movie. The most identifiable, the most faceted. She gets angry and she’s very loyal and there’s just so much about her. She was the most real character in the body of this fantastical character. So the combination is what really hit me. She’s been such a big character, a big star since 1953. So it just felt, I want to see how she became Tinker Bell. That’s kind of what I felt for me personally.

Brad RaymondBrad, is that a lot of pressure signing on to a Disney film, because Walt Disney was a perfectionist? He basically, single-handedly created animation, so to do a Disney project especially with a known project, what kind of pressure is that?

BRADLEY RAYMOND: I’m glad I didn’t talk to you before I started this project. I mean, man! (Laughs) I don’t know if I would’ve been able to make it through. No, no, no, you’re right. First of all, its an honor. It just hits you, like wow. And on top of it, what you mentioned is you’re telling a story about Tinker Bell which is one of the most iconic characters of all time. What happens is, the alleviation of the pressure is working with John [Lasseter]. He’s the audience. He knows the process. He doesn’t walk in and say you better make this good! He’s there helping you and there’s always peaks and valleys and he’s there for you to get you out of one of the valleys. So he’s really great. Helen was great, a great teammate, a partnership, and you know you have a great crew around you, a great team. So you kind of get immersed in the story, but you never cease to amaze yourself that this is such a great moment that I have this opportunity. It’s like a responsibility. You never really like take it for granted, you know.

Every time I walk on the Disney lot, Walt’s presence is so heavily there. It’s so heavy I almost expect to see him walking down the street.

BRADLEY RAYMOND: I know, I know. It’s great that you mentioned that because it just brings inspiration to you. It’s so inspiring working there. And another thing with John . . . whenever you leave a meeting with him, even if it has nothing to do with your movie, or if you are just meeting him looking at the walk around characters to see what their costumes look like, anything, you leave inspired. It’s like he has this really kind of infectious quality, and I’m sure Walt was the same way.

TZN: What kind of research, if any, goes into creating Tinker Bell’s back story? Is there anything with regards to looking at fairy tale folklore or the Peter Pan book?

BRADLEY RAYMOND: What I really looked at for her specifically was really just Peter Pan, because that’s the character that we know. There are some things like, “is born of a baby’s first laugh,” which is from J.M. Barrie. We drew from just that world. As far as the world of fairies, we really just wanted to focus on the fairies bringing nature to the world, and then we kind of researched nature actually to create the fairy mythology, our fairy mythology.

Maybe when you grow up, you can become an animator!TZN: Helen, I see that you worked on the Hercules and Xena animated movie, and I’m a big fan of that movie and the Hercules and Xena TV shows. I’m curious what you remember about that and the animated hand-drawn tapestry style of that movie?

HELEN KALAFATIC: I think that I remember the group that I worked with. They were a great bunch of people. But it was my first animated movie that I worked on and it was just such an experience. It was so eye-opening and so amazing. . . I was blown that I was in LA and working on an animated movie, and ultimately that led me to this. It was a great start. That’s what I think that I remember the most, that it was a really great start. Lucy Lawless was a great actress to work with and Kevin Sorbo as well.

TZN: Besides this one is there an animated project you are very proud of and really like looking back on the experience?

BRADLEY RAYMOND: I would say this movie because for me this is my kind of movie, the wish-fulfillment movie. I was saying before an ordinary character who extraordinary things happen to. So I just love that. It was actually just a dream come true working on this movie because I was, I’ve gotten such a huge influence from Peter Pan so I just wanted to make a movie like that. I just loved the experience. I was really sorry we were done.

TZN: Not even the Aladdin series from the Disney Afternoons? Because I loved that series.

BRADLEY RAYMOND: Oh, I love the Aladdin series. I remember that. That was my first, technically my second job at Disney, but that was one of my first jobs at Disney, so I loved working on that.

TZN: And for you Helen, perhaps Big Guy and Rusty?

HELEN KALAFATIC: Well I liked working on that and everything, but I really would say, I have to agree with Brad that this is my favorite one. It’s really something that I’m so proud of. I was proud of the other projects I worked on but this one to me feels so special. But of course, I really enjoyed working on Big Guy and Rusty and SpongeBob and everything.

TZN: What is your favorite Disney animation?

BRADLEY RAYMOND: Peter Pan.

HELEN KALAFATIC: Pinocchio.

Toonzone News would like to send our thanks to the wonderful members of the cast and crew for speaking with us, as well as to Disney and Click Communications for inviting us to participate in the roundtable sessions. Tinker Bell And The Great Fairy Rescue will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 21, 2010.

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