*Disney provided me with an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles to attend advance screenings of Maleficent and Planes: Fire and Rescue and to attend press junkets for both films. I did receive some promotional products courtesy of Disney Consumer Products. No other compensation was received. All thoughts are 100% my own.*
I have a secret: unlike everyone else, it seems, I have not religiously watched a well-known TV show called Modern Family. After meeting Julie Bowen in L.A. for an interview regarding her first feature-length voice artist role in Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue (in theaters July 18th, 2014), I’m now planning to binge watch all the seasons I’ve missed.
It’s impossible to know what to expect a person might be like when you aren’t so familiar with their body of work in Hollywood. I did watch every single episode of ABC’s LOST, but Julie Bowen’s character in that show was much more serious than the characters she plays in Modern Family and Planes: Fire & Rescue. Julie Bowen was truly a delight to meet; I admit I was a bit nervous walking into this interview, but within seconds she had us all laughing and joking around with her. She’s incredibly down-to-earth, funny, and the type of person I’d love being friends with. She has great fashion sense, too!
The day before we met with Julie, we’d had the opportunity to step into the recording booth and get a feel for what it was like for her to work on the film. This being her biggest role to date as a voice actor, Julie admitted to being a little nervous stepping into the recording booth. “It’s kind of nerve-wracking, ’cause there’s nothing there. Also, my big fear is that you’re in the booth, and then there’s a glass thing. And this is what I’m analyzing. It’s really bad. Is it too late to re-cast this?”
Julie did not train as a voice actor, so working on an animated film versus Modern Family was very different for her. “I’m keenly aware of my weaknesses … It’s just your voice, and if you aren’t getting across clearly the humor, the message, the real sentiment, you can’t deny it … Luckily, they are perfectionists and they are so pro that they quickly figured out that the best way to work with me was just let me go. And then some poor editor had to sit somewhere going, ‘oh my God.’ I mean, I was leaping around, swearing. The original Dipper had quite a mouth on her. But to get to the sassiness of the way that she thinks, I needed to spout some garbage.”
Working on an animated film also required less of Julie’s time. “This was so great and short, and even though I sweat a lot and got really anxious whenever I had to go in, I didn’t have to go in that many times … because Bob was so great and they just let me go rather instead of just trying to get the line … So I just went in to polish up bits, or change it for legal reasons or whatever.” Working on Modern Family requires more energy and a full day. “It’s a process, but I’ve been doing TV for a long time, so you’re getting there at six a.m. and someone makes you look like a much better version of you. And by the time you get to the stage at seven thirty in the morning, it’s been hours and you’re like, ‘Go team.’”
Another reason to completely love Julie is because of how she talked about the collaboration aspect of the film. “I’m not very good at watching myself, but I’m okay at listening to myself. I’m very excited about this. It also feels so collaborative; it doesn’t feel like I’m raising the ‘I’m awesome’ flag, which always makes me cringe a little. I can look at this and go, ‘Wow, I was part of something that was so awesome,’ so it’s easy when you’re done to embrace the whole thing.”
One of the exciting aspects about playing Dipper was Julie’s freedom to ad lib scenes. “I had to come in with exactly this romance in my head.” In the film, Dipper has romantic feelings for Dusty, but he doesn’t exactly return them. “Really the possibilities were endless because they weren’t necessarily a hundred percent connected to what was going on.”
Although this is a film that has great appeal for children, there is also something in there for adults—especially with the humor. “There’s always something for the parents, too, and it doesn’t have to be dirty filthy … and the kids have no idea. I love it when they do that.”