Will Arnett is well known for his live action roles in popular TV shows like Arrested Development and 30 Rock, but he has also done voice work, and I had the pleasure of participating in a phone interview with him on Valentine’s Day about his new flick, The Secret World of Arrietty. If you’ve been keeping up with our coverage of The Secret World of Arrietty, then you know that I absolutely loved the film, and I’m thrilled that you will all have the opportunity to see it in theatres February 17th.
Q: Have you ever read “The Borrowers” by Mary Norton, the book on which “The Secret World of Arrietty” is based?
A: I had not read the books, and I did not know a lot about the stories or the book before I got involved with the project. I was very new to all of them.
Q: How did you come to be the stern, but loving Pod since it is such a different character from what you normally play?
A: The people who were involved in the film over here at Disney first came to us–to my wife and me–and asked us to be a part of it, and I was excited that they thought of me. And especially for me to do something that did seem like it was a little bit outside of what maybe people were used to seeing me in. But at the same time, for many years I have been a voice over guy. I’ve done countless narration and commercial work, I’ve also been a part of a lot of different films in the animation world over the last 10 years. It’s a little more serious. I think this character Pod is more the steady hand in this story, and I was excited to do something that was a little outside of my comfort zone.
Q: What is the process of working on a film like this, is it mostly individual work or do you get to work together on it?
A: It is individual. For the most part, animation you are on your own. In terms of when you’re going to record, that’s the way it’s set up. Of course, I had the luxury of knowing some of my cast mates pretty well. My wife. So we were able to kind of talk about it a little bit, but you don’t generally have that luxury.
Q: Prior to this movie, did you have any experiences with Studio Ghibli, and if so, do you have any favorites?
A: Studio Ghibli has pretty iconic films, whether it’s Spirited Away (of course, amazing!) or Ponyo, which is incredible. I know that they’ve made 15-20 movies, I think, I haven’t seen them all, but definitely Ponyo was the one that was most recent. But Spirited Away I think everyone can agree with was so cool, at the time it was–I think it was the first of their films that I saw. When they asked me to be a part of this movie I jumped at it because I was such a fan.
Q: Were you originally drawn to the character of Pod because your are both fathers and you can relate?
A: I don’t know that I would say I was drawn to him necessarily, I would say that once I started working on this film my performance was probably colored by it. What you don’t understand before you’re a parent is what it means to be a parent, and what it means to have a child and that definitely changes your entire world view forever, the moment your child is born. And I don’t think that I would have been able to play this–I wouldn’t have had the same perspective had I not been a parent when I because a part of this film.
Q: For years we’ve heard that there is going to be an “Arrested Development” movie. Will there be?
A: There is going to be a movie. We’re making a mini-series starting sometime this year, and it’s leading up to the film.
Q: What about animated films draws you in?
A: I like the idea that you can…in animation you get to kind of hide. As an actor or a performer all you have is your voice, and then you’re kind of working in concert with these other great artists who are creating this visual and writing this story. It’s a different kind of collaboration, and it’s such a visual medium. It’s such an interesting thing to be a part of.
Q: You have done lots of different voice overs; do you have a favorite of the voice overs that you have done?
A: Right now, Arrietty. It’s so hard to play favorites in that way. They all have their own thing about them.
Q: After you got involved with this film, what made you really want to be a part of it?
A: I think that once I knew it was a Studio Ghibli, I didn’t know about the books/stories, but once I started working on the film and I saw the original version, I just thought the story was so great and universal. I was very excited to be part of it.
Q: There was a lot of depth to the story, and I want to know what message you hope audiences will take away from the film?
A: I think it sends a really nice message of tolerance.
For more information on The Secret World of Arrietty, check it out now on Facebook.
*Thank you to Walt Disney Publicity for providing us with the interview opportunity.*