Disney•Pixar has released “Brave,” the year’s No. 1 animated movie and Pixar Animation Studio’s 13th consecutive hit on DVD and Blu-ray. “Brave” is the story of Merida (Kelly Macdonald), a princess from ancient times who rails at the restrictions her mother tries to impose upon her. The daughter of King Fergus (voiced by Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voiced by Emma Thompson), Merida decides to challenge the customs of the day when her parents instruct her to choose a suitor from among three equally unsuitable princes — the sons of massive Lord MacGuffin (voiced by “Grey’s Anatomy”’s Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane).
In her flight from her Highland castle, Merida encounters a witch (voice of Julie Walters), and despite a cautionary tale from the spellcaster, the headstrong princess makes a wish to change her mother, in order to alter her destiny. But, as spells tend to do, this one goes awry and the results are wildly different than Merida imagined. Even so, it affords both Merida and Elinor the opportunity to spend some time in the other’s shoes — as they struggle to break the curse before it becomes permanent.
The stunning Blu-ray release of “Brave,”directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and produced by Katherine Sarafian, includes hours of all-new bonus material, including extraordinary behind the scenes features, extended & deleted scenes, a mysterious and exciting, new short film, ‘The Legend of Mor’du,” and much more!
At a press conference for the movie, Macdonald spoke about the making of the movie, her own teenage years, how she knew that “Brave” was going to be special, and more. Read on and then pick up a copy of “Brave.”
The Disney princess franchise is huge. What was your feeling when you knew you were going to be the first female Pixar protagonist? Do you have any plans to continue as the voice of Merida in any future projects?
Attention to detail is not my strong point, so it totally passed me by that I was going to be the first female protagonist in a Pixar movie — really until I recently started doing interviews. I glad I didn’t know when I was doing it because it would have been a lot of pressure. I don’t think that I have watched a Pixar movie and felt wronged that there wasn’t a female protagonist. They make films about fish and robots and toys. There are some really strong female characters in those — “The Incredibles” and “Toy Story.” Having said all that, I feel very privileged.
I have been doing … there are kids games, LeapFrog games and video games, I actually did more work on the video game than I did on the movie.
To what extent do you identify with this character?
I wasn’t Merida-like when I was a teenager. She is very adventurous and outdoorsy and I was not. I was indoorsy. But I was a teenage girl, so that is the thing I zoned in on. All teenagers are awful, but teenage girls are kind of worse, I think.
What about her rebelliousness?
I could have used more of that to be honest. My mum was really easy-going and I didn’t have anything to rebel against. I moved away from home when I was 17 and that was fine. I made my own choices early on.
We all know animation is a long process that takes years and the story changes as it develops. How did your character change from start to finish?
I am kind of the late comer to the movie. They started making this seven years ago and I have only been involved for the last 18 months, so I think they pretty much had Merida down and knew what was going on there.
Being Scottish, do you feel gratified that this is a cast of mostly Scots using their own accents?
What’s interesting is I’m Scottish and I’ve read things that have said I’ve got a terrible Scottish accent. People don’t know.
If you could turn your mom into an animal, like Merida’s what animal would you pick?
I can’t even think of an animal. She is a homebody my mother. I think I would turn her into a cat because I think she would be very happy by the fire.
Did you give any advice to Pixar on the look or the vibe of the film?
I think the filmmakers have seen more of Scotland than I have.
What is the best part about playing Princess Merida?
The best part is I had so much fun. I got to play this part I would never get to play in a live-action film, because I am not a teenager. And I got to be cheeky and obnoxious to my mom, which was quite fun. It was the most fun I have had with a project where I did not have to get my makeup done and wear a costume.
During the voice work, did you know this movie was going to be special?
As soon as I was asked to go in and meet some people from Pixar … just the name Pixar, you know it is going to be special, so I had no doubt in my mind the finished product was going to be special and cutting edge. That is the great thing about Pixar, everything they bring out is the most cutting-edge technology.
If you look back at the films, “Toy Story” was 15 years ago and you don’t think, “Oh, if they had the technology they have now, it would be such a better [film].” It still stands up. What they do is extraordinary and I think that comes from the top. It is people who love their jobs and do their jobs very well.
Is it more fun to do animated characters than perform live-action roles?
This is my first.
Did any of you have an opportunity to record together?
I think it’s the norm to work on your own.
Did it make a difference that the character of Merida had curly, red hair?
No. Like I said earlier, I joined about 18 months ago, so they knew what the character of Merida was going to look like. When I went in for my recording sessions, there weren’t drawings of her. I didn’t think about it too much. I kind of forgot about that and just got on with the job. So when I saw the finished product, it was like a total surprise.
As a successful Scottish performer, Billy Connolly has had such an influence What does his humor mean to you?
I hurled myself at Billy Connolly. He was doing a session when I first when in to read for the part. Before I knew what happened, I was around his neck like a monkey.