Friday, 25 May 2012

Interview with Bridget Mendler, Voice of Arrietty in The Secret World of Arrietty

DVD Cover Image: THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY © 2010 GNDHDDTW, © 2012 GNDHDDTW. All Rights Reserved.

I have a special treat for Movie Moxie readers, an interview with Bridget Mendler who voices the role of Arrietty in The Secret World of Arrietty which was released on DVD/BluRay earlier this week. The film is based on the book The Borrowers by Mary Norton which was our January 2012 reading selection for the 2012 Movie Moxie Book to Film Club. The film is a wonderful translation of the book bringing to life a family of tiny people who live under the floorboards in a house of humans, and at the heard of it is young girl Arrietty who looks forward to her first borrowing. Let's hear from Bridget Mendler who voices the role of Arrietty on what it was like to bring this adventurous character to life.

You can also hear this interview on Episode 72 of The Movie Moxie Podcast.

Shannon: My first question is, the film is such a wonderful film I really enjoyed it, and I was curious what drew you to the project?

Bridget Mendler: I was really attracted to working with Studio Ghibli because I’ve been a fan of a lot of their movies for a while. I loved Kiki's Delivery Service and Spirited Away, and I think that they do such beautiful animation. So watching the animation they did for The Secret World of Arrietty, it was really beautiful and it seemed like something I definitely wanted to be a part of.

Shannon: And so the film was already created when you jumped on board, right?

Bridget Mendler: Yes, it was already animated.

Shannon: Was that a challenge or restricting at all, to work with a predetermined visuals in terms of your creative input?

Bridget Mendler: I thought that actually it was kind of fun. It is a challenge of course, but it’s kind of cool to be able to have the animation to work with. It was an odd balance of feeling like I was in the movie, and part of making the movie the same time. So having visuals to bounce of off really helped me get in the moment.

Shannon: The audience gets to sees the secret world through Arrietty’s eyes but also through her relationships. I was wondering with the other characters in the film can you share how you created those bonds?

Bridget Mendler: I think the dialogue really helped for that, and working with how they interacted with each other on screen. Som my job was just to put the emotion into it and the sentiment. Unfortunately I wasn’t working with the other actors so I didn’t have that to work with or interact with.

Shannon: Oh wow.

Bridget Mendler: But I feel like it came together really well. I think I was one of the first ones to record so I think people that came in later were able to hear me talk. So, that probably helped for having things get synced up well.

Shannon: That’s amazing, I would have no idea that you weren’t in the same room at the same time. The energy between the characters and the relationships feels so strong.

Bridget Mendler: Isn’t that bizarre?

Shannon: It’s amazing! Well, if you recorded first, then I’m sure they are receiving from you and the Arrietty character is so wonderful and so adventurous. That’s a gift for them to start with.

Bridget Mendler: Oh, thank you.

Shannon: You’re welcome. I was curious if you have read the book the film is based on (The Borrowers by Mary Norton)?

Bridget Mendler: I haven’t but my grandpa has. So it was cool because he was really excited for me to do the project and work on something that was a part of his childhood. It’s kind of neat how it’s able to span generations like that.

Shannon: It’s impressive the story translates so well even though it’s from many, many years ago.

Bridget Mendler: Yeah, I thought that that was pretty neat.

Shannon: Your character Arrietty has a wonderful adventurous spirit. Can you tell us a little bit more about your character and the choices you made bring her to life?

Bridget Mendler: I think that my choices were partially based on my own interpretation of the character and wanting to convey that she’ really adventurous and excited and youthful, but also real and grounded and impacted by the people around her. But at the same time I’m working with the animation and the interpretation that the Japanese animators had on the dialogue, so there is a balance. So you can’t really deliver a line sadly if the characters face is lighting up. You have to true to that material at the same time. I think that we found a good balance within that, I’m happy with it.

Shannon: That’s wonderful. I’m wondering with the film dealing with interesting themes, some heavy and some light, from adventure into the unknown from fear to the being overwhelmed by your surroundings, but Arrietty remains very curious and open minded. Where do you think she gets that from ?

Bridget Mendler: I think she lives a very unique life and a big part of it is being outdoors and exploring the world around her. That’s how she learns about things, is through interacting with her environment like that. Additionally, there is this mysterious job that her dad has and she completely idolizes him and so when she’s invited to be a part of that journey she’s over the moon to go and explore this mysterious place that she’s never known about. And of course she’s a little bit bothered by her mom’s protectiveness because she doesn’t understand the gravity of what could happen if something went wrong. So I think she’s kind of excited to rebel against her parents a little bit and trying to do some stuff on her own .

Shannon: It’s very inspiring to see young female character play such a strong role. Often female characters tend to be supporting roles but Arrietty really is in the spotlight here. How did it feel to play such a prominent role?

Bridget Mendler: It was super flattering. I got the offer to be a part of this movie. It wasn’t an auditioning process, and it’s something I would have been happy to audition for and fight for on my own. To know that Disney believed in me and that they wanted me to a part of this movie and that thought of me, was so flattering and I was just very excited to represent Studio Ghibli in this project.

Shannon: And you not only got to star in the role but also wrote the song “Summertime” for the film. Can you share a little bit about what was that creative process like?

Bridget Mendler: Yeah, it’s funny I wrote the song I think 2 years before the movie.

Shannon: Wow.

Bridget Mendler: It was something I was jamming out in the dressing room with some of the other cast members and it kind of came about. I wrote it completely before the film came up and they wound up producing it to fit the movie. So it’s kind of nice that they were able to work together like that. I would have never expected my song to land in the movie like that, so that was very exciting for me and it’s awesome that they believed in me and wanted that to be part of the film. I was flattered.

Shannon: It’s a wonderful fit with the sentiment of the films as well.

Bridget Mendler: Thank you.

Shannon: You’re welcome . I was wondering what do you hope people take from seeing The Secret World of Arrietty?

Bridget Mendler: I hope that they pick up on the imagination in it and that they are impacted by it. I think it’s a different sort of animated movie that what people see a lot nowadays; it’s slower paced and the story line is kind of simpler. It’s a very different experience than what you get from a lot of other movies, and that’s not to knock on the other films I think there are great animated movies that come out these days, but it’s awesome that Studio Ghibli was able to make something so different and enable it to be really positively received.

Shannon: It has a wonderful timeless coming of age and learning about life quality to it that I think is very wonderful and accessible.

Bridget Mendler: Yeah, thank you.

Shannon: So the film comes out on BluRay and DVD May 22nd, 2012, What’s up next for you?

Bridget Mendler: I’m working on my album right now. It’s pretty much all recorded at this point, it’s all written. I went through a brief bout of vocal nodule drama, which disabled me from really using my voice for a bit. We’re still trying to get through that and figure out how move forward, but I’m so excited to release my first album and share it with everybody. I hope that people like it.

Shannon: Well especially considering that you are having some vocal nodule drama, I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with me today!

Bridget Mendler: Of course.

Shannon: And I’ll look forward to hearing the album. it’s a wonderful film and I enjoyed the song and all the very best.

Bridget Mendler: Thank you so much.

The Secret World of Arrietty came out on DVD/BluRay on May 22, 2012, and has extras from the film including Bridgit Mendler's "Summertime" Music Video and The Making Of "Summertime". See my DVD/Blu-Ray review of the film here. You can also listen to my interview with Bridget Mendler on Episode 72 of The Movie Moxie Podcast.

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