Mae Whitman – Secret of the Wings (DVD)

November 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Interviews

Actress Mae Whitman (“Independence Day”) has found time between her live-action film and TV roles to lend her voice to the sassy Walt Disney fairy known as Tinker Bell. Since 2008, Whitman, 24, has brought Tinker Bell to life in a number of straight-to-DVD movies including “Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue” and “Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure.” In the most recent movie of the series, “Secret of the Wings,” Tinker Bell journeys into the Winter Woods to find out the truth behind her sparking fairy wings.

During an interview with me, Whitman, who is known best by fans for her role in the cult TV show “Arrested Development,” talked about what it takes to play a famous fairy and what fans of “Arrested Development” can expect when the show returns exclusively on Netflix this spring.

In the original “Peter Pan” Tinker Bell doesn’t talk. What did you think about her getting a voice and you giving her that voice?

It was amazing. I actually didn’t know what the role was when I was auditioning for it. I think that was for the best because I didn’t try to change my voice to what I thought she would sound like. I was myself and luckily there was something in that they connected with. I definitely have more energy doing Tinker Bell than I usually do, but the voice is all me.

What does it take to play a sassy fairy character?

Not too much. I would say I am a sassy human character in real life. It’s mostly just tapping into my zest for life and trying new things. I think that’s a really big part of Tinker Bell. She has a youthful excitement about life and learning.

Were you into girly things like Tinker Bell when you were a kid?

I think I was more of a tomboy. I liked to play outside a lot. I think for the most part I was into collecting bugs and stuff like that.

You’re shooting the new season of “Arrested Development” now. Was it natural for you to go back on that set again?

Yeah, absolutely. I love everything about that character and story. It didn’t take much to get back into it and have fun doing it. I’m so excited that the show is coming back. I am a total fan girl for the show. I really can’t wait.

The show has been off the air for six years. It must have felt a little surreal, no?

It definitely was. Alia [Shawkat], who plays Maeby on the show, is my best friend in real life. She’s like, “Wow, it’s so crazy we’re all back!” We’re all different, but we’re all the same. I think everyone is really excited that we get to come back and get to keep telling more of this fabulous story.

Was it ever hard for you to be the butt of all the jokes on the show?

You know, it wasn’t. I don’t really take things personally. It’s all about what tells the story. I feel so honored to be part of that story at all. I’ve always been more of a character actor, so I’ve always loved playing roles that are different and interesting as opposed to ones that are pretty. I love to play such an interesting character. Plus, I was wearing a fat suit, so that’s always very funny.

Another of your TV shows I was disappointed to see get cancelled was “In Treatment.” That was such a great show.

I loved it, too. I’m hard-pressed when I try to think of a TV show where people are not talking about their problems. To me it was incredibly smart and deep and wonderful and special. I became friends with Gabriel Byrne on that show. He is an incredible man and amazing actor. I value his friendship very much. I learned so much just being able to work with him. But I mean, nothing gold can stay. Thing pass and move along. But it’s all about what you take from them rather than lamenting on how long they stay around. For me, I learned a lot of monumental lessons from that, so the show is still with me.

What about things you’ve been in that do stay around for a long time like “Independence Day?” I bet that movie is playing on cable right now somewhere. And next year it’s going back to the theater so we can see it in “3-D.” I know you were a little girl when you filmed it, but could you have imagined the incredible staying power of a sci-fi film like that one?

Yeah, it’s crazy. Sometimes a film like that does stick around and it’s very funny and fun. I’m like, “Yes, I was the President’s daughter.” I love that kind of thing. Every project I have done has changed me in some way. “Independence Day” was a huge one for me. I’m so glad it was a big hit. I can’t wait to go see it again at the theater. I’m really excited it’s coming back out and that people still have an appreciation for it.

Since you started so young in this industry, is there something specific you can say you’ve learned about yourself over the years as an actress?

Yeah, I think I do my best work when I’m feeling really good. I’m feeling really good when I’m doing something I believe in. A long time ago I heard Ray Bradbury speak and he said, “Always do it for love and never for money.” I think he’s right. I think you have to do everything out of love. I try to make as many decisions from a place of love. I think that has taken me in the right direction. I feel like I’m in a really good place right now where every single project I have my hand in is something I love and believe in. I think it really makes a difference with who I am as an actor and how happy I am just living my life.

Does the lifestyle of a 24-year-old actress ever get overwhelming for you? I can’t imagine being young and in Hollywood is very easy.

It’s a tough industry, I think, especially for girls. I think that’s why it’s important for me to do projects like these Tinker Bell movies and “Parenthood” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” They all have positive messages that don’t encourage stuff that I don’t believe in. It’s hard because so much of [the Hollywood lifestyle] is about looks and body image, but I also think there is a huge portion of it that’s not. I’ve always tried to just put myself out there and not take any of the mean stuff personally. I just really try to retain my voice through everything. Hopefully, there are people out there who will hear that voice and communicate with it. I’m ultimately trying to communicate with people who might feel like me – someone who kind of doesn’t fit in to the norm. Hopefully I’m able to connect to at least one person like that and let them know everything is going to be OK.

What kinds of movies do you like to watch yourself?

I love watching all different types of genres. I think my favorite is the psychological thriller. I love detective stories and mysteries. Movies like “The Game” with Michael Douglas are such cool and interesting ways to tell a story. Those are the kinds of movies I like the most.

Was that your pitch to David Fincher to give you a call for his next one?

(Laughs) Yes, absolutely. David, I’m here. I always will be.

Timothy Dalton – Secret of the Wings (DVD)

October 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Interviews

Best known for playing secret agent James Bond on the big screen from 1987 to 1989, actor Timothy Dalton has made a noteworthy career for himself with his British charm and accent. His voice has served him best when he portrays animated characters, including Mr. Pricklepants in “Toy Story 3.” In the animated straight-to-DVD movie “Secret of the Wings,” Dalton, 68, plays Lord Milori, the Lord of the Winter Woods. During an interview with me, Dalton discussed his new animated film and what he thinks about “Skyfall,” the next James Bond movie starring Daniel Craig.

You were great as Mr. Pricklepants in “Toy Story 3.” What brings you to another animated film?

Timothy Dalton: I mean, these animated movies have been terrific, but I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ve moved toward it or it has moved towards me, but I’ve been very lucky. I seized these roles with joy. Anyone who has kids loves the idea of doing movies that kids can enjoy.

It could be argued that Tinker Bell is one of those Disney characters that will never be able to find crossover appeal with little boys. Do you think that’s true?

It might well be true. I was always interested in the pirates and crocodiles and Capt. Hook in “Peter Pan.” But the movie certainly works for adults. When I saw the movie the other day I was very moved by it. It’s a story about love and trying to overcome differences. Breaking down cultures and people at an adult level is marvelous. This movie is so pure. It touches on love at the most basic level.

Going back to “Toy Story 3,” what did you see in Mr. Pricklepants that reminded you of yourself?

Nothing! (Laughs) I don’t often feel like a hedgehog in lederhosen. I never quite understood why a hedgehog would be wearing lederhosen in the first place. But he was definitely a lovely character to play.

Are you looking forward to “Skyfall?” Do you still keep up with the James Bond franchise?

Well, the producers remain some of my best friends. I think “Skyfall” is going to be fabulous. I know it’s going to be great. I love the fact I was part of a film franchise that has lasted at least half the entire time of modern moviemaking.

Who is the best James Bond?

Sean Connery, but Daniel Craig is great, too. The first 25 minutes of “Casino Royale” are incredible. They are doing everything I wanted to do 20 years ago. For our time, they’re making the best of Bond now.