With a movie based on the animal kingdom, it made sense for Disney to host the promotional tour for Zootopia at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. That meant we Orlando locals also got an invite to sit at the table and share a few moments with the films production team and stars. It was definitely a privilege.
Disney also filmed a few brief interviews which I’m happy to be able to share with you here:
In addition to the interviews that were filmed above, I got to spend a bit of time on a panel of journalists interviewing both Jason Bateman and Ginnifer Goodwin. I found Bateman to be as cool a character as the onscreen fox he provides a voice to. Goodwin we interviewed on Skype, so it was hard to pick up the nuances, but she definitely exhibited the best traits of Judy Hopps. Plus she’s a Disney fan through-and-through.
Bateman’s previous animation experience was scant (Darkos in Arthur and the Invisibles was a highlight), but he was excited to work on his first Disney film. There’s something about doing a Disney film when you have children, and Bateman has two daughters. The oldest of which was 6 when he got the part, she’s 9 now. She found it cool that her dad’s voice was coming out of a Disney character.
As to how much Nick resembles him, Bateman says, “I can see the half-interested eyelids. He’s a real smart-ass. He always has his fist on his hip. There’s a lot of body language that’s similar to me.”
Asked what his older daughter might take from the film, Bateman said “The central message of Judy’s sense of optimism and enthusiasm, ‘I’m going to go to the big city and make it’ thread is a great one for young girls to see. Because [Judy] immediately runs into this pessimistic and cynical character saying that life’s not all cherries and ice cream and she proves [Nick] wrong.”
On the topic of what sort of staying power his character of Nick Wilde will have:
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, because maybe I’m being not very realistic about the track record that Disney has. I always want to err on the side of humility and caution. I don’t want to take anything for granted (because I’ve lived the other side of that a few times). But from everything I’ve seen (I’ve seen the film a couple times now) and everything I’m reading, it is 100% a classic. These guys did such an incredible job with the story, with the themes, with the humor, the artistry, the animation. Chances are high that the character walking around Disneyland won’t just be for the theatrical release cycle.”
What lessons do you hope people take from the movie?
“Judy starts with this notion that she’s going to big city to make it. Then she runs into this orange blob of cynicism and pessimism and she’s really kind of all inside out. ‘Whatever you feel you can make happen.’ He’s basically saying ‘it’s all about the outside-in.’ People may not be cooperative if they have a bias. She rips that down for him. Kids can do well by not being burdened by any sort of preconceived notion. It matters that’s on the inside.”
On staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge:
“The neatest thing for me was the first morning I woke. I got in here at night and when I woke up in the morning the first thing I saw was two giraffe outside my window. You know. My wife’s great, but waking up to a giraffe outside is tough to beat.”
Our time with Ginnifer Goodwin was different, but I could feel the Disney fandom connection even over Skype. She talked about how acting with your voice is different and how she learned about it on ‘Legend of the Neverbeast” like a boot camp for voice acting.
Goodwin’s tale of how she heard she got the part of Judy Hoops was classic:
“Oh my gosh. This is going to sound like BS. I was in Mickey Mouse pajamas. Red Mickey Mouse pajamas that had my name embroidered on them that my mother gave me. They matched my sister’s. I was pregnant with my first son. I was sitting in my kitchen in Vancouver where we shoot ‘Once Upon a Time’ and I had a message on the phone from all my acting representatives, including my voiceover agent. So I thought I was getting fired from, at the time, I was working on ‘Legend of the Neverbeast.’ Because why else would everyone call at once.”
When she was offered the part she answered yes without even learning about the role or reading the script. “I said ‘no, no, no. I do, but later. Call them and tell them that I’m taking the job. Because I want it to be legally binding. Then you can call me back and tell me what it is.”
On her favorite Disney films, “my first love was Winnie the Pooh. Snow White was a big one for me. She was, like, my first Princess. I mean, she was Brunette, and so I thought that that means we’re related. Alice in Wonderland was an obsession for a while. I mean I grew up seeing and loving every Disney film. Hence it being the goal to be in a Disney animated feature.”
On what she hopes children will take from the movie, “I mean, there’s so many, right? I feel like the overlying theme, the one that Judy articulates in the movie, that anyone can be anything is gonna be one of the first things that I hope my kids pick up on when they’re old enough to see this film. There’s some more underlying themes that are a little more sort of politically based and about the human condition. Ironic, since this is a story about animals, that I hope that they get to at some point when they’re ready for it. Then I just love that, for instance, Judy takes real responsibility for her actions. I think she’s so noble in that way. I hope that kids pick up on that.”
I personally hope that Jason and Ginnifer will be invited back for a sequel, TV show, and the whole nine yards. There’s a long way to go, but early reviews are good. Stay tuned for more from the Junket and my review later this week.