Synopsis : Apple Original Films and Skydance Animation tell the story of Sam Greenfield, the luckiest person in the world! Suddenly finding herself in the Land of Luck never seen before, she must unite with the magical creatures therein to turn the tide.
Evaluation: g / Gender: The comedy / original language: English
Director:Peggy Holmes /Producer:David Eisenmann, David Ellison, Dan Goldberg, John Lasseter, Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger / Writer: Keil Murray
Release date (Broadcast): August 5, 2022
Interview with actor Simon Pegg
Q: Do you believe in bad luck?
SP: I think we make our own luck. There is no other agency at work that gives us good and bad [luck]. I think luck is something we create based on how we respond to the opportunities given to us. Sometimes things can look like bad luck, like you drop your toast on the buttered side or all the lights are red when you’re trying to get home at night. But in the end, it’s just the ebb and flow of reality.
As humans, we just like to “blame” things – if something is wrong, it can’t be our fault. Or someone has something against us – it’s like, “Oh, this entity has a grudge against me.” It’s not true. But I believe we create our own opportunities, and if you want to call that luck, then that’s fine with me.
Q: This is Skydance’s first animated film; you’ve worked with Skydance over the years. So, who chose you and how did they introduce you?
SP: He just arrived. Obviously I have a relationship with Skydance, as you say, because of ‘Mission Impossible’ and ‘Star Trek’, so I know the team there well. Basically, I got a note with a picture of Bob and a character description, and it was kind of obvious, “Oh, this is going to be a lot of fun.” So it was an email pitch, I guess.
Nothing beats seeing the character. When you’re doing an animation, if you see an image of the character that you immediately start thinking about, how are they talking? What do they like? So that was a smart way to do it, rather than someone just saying, “Hey, do you want to play a black cat?” It was like, there he is.
Q: Since this movie is about luck, for you personally, do you think you are more like Sam? [Eva Noblezada] or rather Bob in real life?
SP: [laughs] That’s a tough question, because the ebb and flow of luck for Bob and Sam change as they go. For Sam, because she’s so unlucky, she’s almost… well, it’s a fantastic story, I don’t think anyone is as unlucky as Sam. But I feel like I’ve been lucky all along. throughout my life and my career as long as good things have happened to me. It’s tempting to call these things luck.
I think we take it out of the equation a bit when we talk about luck because, like I said, we create our own luck. We are given certain opportunities, things happen to us and it all depends on what we do with them, how we deal with them. I’m probably a combination of Bob and Sam, if you will. Maybe a little black cat called Sam.
Q: Your comedy style is very physical. How did you manage to translate that into animation with just your voice?
SP: The advantage of doing voice-overs — and I guess it’s always been that way — is that you’re filmed while you’re doing your voice. Even if you channel everything into your voice, it’s impossible to give the required performance unless you materialize it while you’re doing it. Otherwise it wouldn’t be convincing because you couldn’t hear that physicality in the voice.
I just give all day, as long as I stay in front of the mic and don’t go off here or there. They film it, so the animators can then watch the video of my voiceover. They can watch my facial expressions and physical behavior and then add them to the animation.
It’s more than my voice, it’s also the way I materialized it in the studio. It’s impossible not to because you’re trying to put everything you can into your voice. I do it now: how we gesticulate, how we move when we speak, I have to do all that. A lot of what Bob does on screen, I do in the studio, other than changing gravity. It was hard.
Q: Director Peggy Holmes has an interesting career — dancer, choreographer — but it’s animation. So what element as a director stood out for you as a director?
SP: Peggy is really enthusiastic and with Bob, she really invested herself in the material. She worked closely with the writer [Kiel Murray]. The writer was there when we did our sessions in case something happened to change it. But she was really good at keeping the energy high and making sure the voice artists – I can only speak for myself, but I’m sure she did it with Eva and Whoopie [Goldberg] and Joan [Fonda] – constantly felt horny because she would be horny from work. It’s really useful in a vocal session. You need energy to keep delivering high energy performance, and Peggy was excellent for that.
I don’t know if it was something from his previous incarnations. She is incredibly talented. But for us, as voice actors, it was all about his enthusiasm which we never, ever wanted.
Q: You have a career in which you explore different genres and now you approach this kind of project with [your] lively voice. What did you like the most?
SP: It’s a very different discipline from live action. It’s a really interesting process. It’s exhausting. You think you’re just standing still, apparently, in a room and talking, that would be less tiring than hanging from an airplane or something. But at the end of each session, you come out completely drained, because you put everything into your voice. Everything is a little bigger because all of your expressions and your physique are a little bigger too, because you want to try and push it through the camera towards the animators. It’s a really, really fun thing to do. Obviously, as an actor, I want to do as many different things as possible to keep my work interesting. And it’s fun. I really relish the opportunity to work with great animators, great comedians, and great directors like Peggy.
Q: You mentioned that when you saw the email, you looked at the picture of the cat, Bob, and you started imagining what kind of voice he had. Obviously Bob speaks differently than you and must have had a Scottish accent. Earlier this year you did another movie “Ice Age” [“The Ice Age Adventures of Buck Wild”] and of course Buck [his character] speak differently. How did you choose the voice?
SP: Bob’s accent was very region specific as he is a black Scottish cat. In the UK, black cats are lucky in Scotland but they are unlucky in England. So he must have been a Scottish black cat. Having done a Scottish accent before on “Star Trek” and having a Scottish family – my wife is Scottish so half my family is Scottish I’m very happy – it was fun to come back and do an accent that was used to make and comfortable to make. They always pull me up: if I’m wrong at all, they tell me. So I’m afraid they’ll see it in case I do.
But I feel like it’s something I’m used to doing now. The starting point was the fact that he was a Scottish black cat, then I worked with Peggy to refine the nuances of who he was and how he spoke.
Q: When people sometimes feel unlucky, they do something to hopefully bring good luck. Do you have a particular way or habit of bringing you good luck?
SP: When I was younger, I was more superstitious and inclined to believe in luck and bad luck, those kinds of talismans and all that. There is a tradition of good and bad luck in the UK which goes like this: if you see a magpie it is bad luck, if you see two magpies it is good luck. There are other things for the following issues. It’s “one for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy, five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret never to be told.”
If I ever saw a magpie, the way to ward off bad luck is to spit. Now, it would obviously be extremely embarrassing if I was inside and saw one in the window. And I would often just quietly [light spit three times] – just to ward off bad luck. But like I said, that was when I was younger and believed such nonsense.
Q: One of the main themes running through your work is the idea of hope – which also comes through as chance. Why is this personally important to you?
SP: I think hope is a realistic emotion. We don’t depend on anything else for hope. Hope is very personal and subjective. We hope for good things and we do everything we can to affect those good things or to make good things happen – anything in our power. Hope is a very important human emotion.
It’s more of a realistic idea than, say, faith, which is blind hope. It’s like you’re relying on something you don’t even know is real. You believe it’s real because other people have told you it is or whatever. It’s fine and good to have faith in people and things because it’s a version of faith, in a way. You have to be smart with that though.
Hope is what keeps us going even in the darkest times of our worst luck, as we might see. Hope is the thing that keeps the lights on, because it’s the idea that maybe things will get better, and we’ll have “good luck.” It’s an important thing to keep alive.
Q: What was it like working with lead actress Eva Noblezada? She was from Broadway, “Miss Saigon” among others.
SP: As is often the case in animation, I only met Eva after we finished our voice work. Peggy played me a few things, and obviously I knew about Eva’s work and knew that she was a big star on Broadway. She has an amazing voice and a great presence. So it was exciting to know that I was working with this talent even though I hadn’t met her or had any experience with her.
Since then, we’ve been spending time together and doing promotions for the movie. The chemistry we have in real life is similar to Bob and Sam. It speaks to the quality of Eva and what she brings to the role. She’s an incredible talent, and utterly irresistible also in her vulnerability, her positivity, and the sweetness she brings to Sam.
It’s a strange thing. Often with animation, you’re never with the other people in the same room. It’s nice in a way, because it’s all about you on those days, just you. But at the same time, you never get the back and forth that you get from live action. Fortunately, Eva and I developed chemistry before we met, and it seemed to work.
Check out more items from Nobuhiro.
Here is the movie trailer.