Interview: THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY’s Bridgit Mendler
This weekend the latest Studio Ghibli flick is released upon the American masses. We here at Screen Invasion are big fans of the studio’s previous work, and have done a few articles praising their work before.
The Secret World of Arrietty is the latest adaptation of the classic novel series The Borrowers and while it’s not a new story, they bring it to life again, with the help of American voice work from Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett and Bridgit Mendler as Arietty herself.
Mendler has been a part of the Disney family for years now, with the show Good Luck Charlie, but with her star on the rise it’s no surprise she’s making the jump to the big screen as well as the musical stage.
I had the chance to sit in on a press interview with Bridgit and learn more about her process filming, past experience with Studio Ghibli films, and more. Catch the highlights here:
We know your grandpa loved the books, did that influence your decision to be a part of this film?
I didn’t have a conversation with him about it. It was more his enthusiasm with me being a part of the movie that was inspiring to me. And so I think it’s something really neat we were able to share over generations and now they are making this movie in theaters and I think it’s something really exciting to keep this story alive for all these people.
Did you watch the original Japanese version?
I did and I really enjoyed it I think they did a great job with it! It’s really an honor to be able to borrow from their story.
What was the best moment from working on this film?
Probably the first day at work (the first of three) when I was at work and I kind of had to first embody Arietty officially. It was a bit of a challenge because you have to figure out how you want to address the character for the audience – it was a fun character to play so I really enjoyed that process.
Most animated films are recorded first and then ainimated, how was it recording the ialogue to match up with the movements on screen?
They wrote the script in mind with the idea of us having to say the words in English to match up the length of speech in the movie so a lot of that was already in mind. It was kind of up to us as actors to match the inflection and how the characters are moving their mouths and sometimes they made slight alterations to that but it was an interesting process. I enjoyed it because not often do you have to fit your words to something that has already been said.
Was it always planned for your song to end up in the movie?
I didn’t know I was going to be doing a song at first. They did talk to me about it through the recording process and I actually wrote a song before the movie and then they wound up using that song for the purpose of the movie. I think it’s a nice fit, hopefully it will be on iTunes. I don’t think it will be on my album – I like to keep my acting and music world separate, besides the projects where the music can contribute to an acting thing. But I was really happy that they wanted me to do music for the movie!
Studio Ghibli has done some amazing work and is one of the most beloved animation studios worldwide. How was it working in a Studio Ghibli film? And what is your favorite Studio Ghibli film?
I thought it was so cool to be doing a voice for their film company . For me the movies that I really loved were Kiki’s Delivery Service from back in the day and Spirited away was a really cool one. I love the imagination they have in the stories and often times they are creating these magical worlds and the cool thing about this project is that it’s a normal world where there are just characters that are an abnormal size that live in it. It shifts the prospective.
You’ve been in the Disney family for a while. What makes it so special that keeps you around?
They really have a commitment to making quality programs and they are really committed to having their kids that are a part of their shows express themselves in whatever way they want. For me, music has been able to help me with that have a strong connection with Friends For Change so they’ve been great with letting me incorporate that. I think they really want their kids to follow their dreams and encourage others to do the same.
Was doing the voice work a challenge?
I thought it was! I’ve enjoyed doing animation for a long time – it was one of the first things I did when I started in the entertainment industry at age 11. So I feel like it’s something I can connect to and it requires a lot of imagination but at the same time you don’t have to get dressed up or go to a set. It’s done really quickly and I did the whole movie in 3 days so in that regard, it requires a lot less work but it requires a lot more work of the mind. But I enjoy it, it’s fun.
What qualities of Arrietty’s character affected your voice work?
I think she’s a younger character and I wanted to be more innocent in her voice. She’s very adventuresome, so I wanted to include that curiosity in her voice in the way she spoke. I think that was probably the thing – you want to keep her a happy little camper.
The Secret World of Arrietty is out in theaters today.