One of the fun things I got to do on my trip to Disney Toon Studios in LA was get to interview Julie Bowen the voice of Dipper. I could sit and listen to her all day, she has such a bright and bubbly personality. You may also know her from Modern Family. Her character Dipper is also the one I got to do the voiceover for in my last post. Below is the interview we did with her.
Julie: So did your guys see the movie?
Julie: Well you have to say that to me anyhow. I haven’t seen it, but I know that it’s gonna hit the sweet spot in my house. With three boys. Four with my husband, too. We obviously don’t always go on the Princess Alley, although we will visit Frozen.
Q: Is this your first time playing an animated character?
Julie: For a movie, yes. I did like a couple little quickie things. Cheap & Dirty, but it brought a lot out of it for my kids for like Scooby-Doo. Because they’ve never seen Modern Family. Plus you know, kids, the world is about them and according to my therapist, that’s totally normal, for awhile. So I’m like really? They don’t want to see me on screen that much, but they like the voice thing. So when I got an opportunity to do this, I saw how much mileage I got off Scooby-Doo. I couldn’t believe how much mileage I got from them. They were like worshipping me. So I’m genuinely excited to show off to my children.
Q: How was it to do animated versus Modern Family?
Julie: So different. I am not a trained voice actor. I’m keenly aware of my weaknesses and that may be because there’s something that obscure or high, there’s no I think we might have seen your boob there. You know what I mean? 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. You can’t go like your hair looks nice, so maybe no one will notice. So I was keenly aware of it. Luckily they are perfectionists and they are so pro that they very 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 kind of needed to spout some garbage.
Q : There are gonna be girls watching this film that are gonna come away going, yeah, I totally wanna fly planes or do something?
JULIE : You know, there’s always a little digital thing rolling and I was shocked to see how specific they made the plane. I mean a plane doesn’t have a front grill like cars did. They didn’t have even a bumper to do mouths and stuff with, or hands. They were really limited and they made it look really human and kind of like me. I think it’s all in the mouth, but I didn’t meet anybody about that kind of a job and I only recently discovered what I’m called. Because I didn’t realize I had to be a real thing, you know. I underestimated the level of research that they had done and I thought I was just, you know, one of those planes that picks up water. You know, it’s much more than that.
Q : Do you watch the film first and then voice it?
JULIE : They draw it. It’s kind of like what you would imagine as far as there’s a rough sketch copy. Like pencil drawing, and then sometimes it’s more than that. It’s the pencil drawing against the backdrop because I guess the backdrops are more static, or those are painted in. I’m not exactly sure how that happens but what I see is just mostly some loose drawings in the very beginning. Moving around and kind of marking the major things. Then I come back like six months later and they’re drawn more. The cool thing is, six months or eight months later, they’ve taken all that spouting that I did in the booth, and running around and sweating, and they incorporate it into the character. And now they’ve started to draw her movement and her mouth and everything to fit that. That was very cool to see. Somebody had to work very hard. The last things I’ve seen have been, to my eye look finished. I’m sure a professional will have tweaking to do or something.
Q : Are you ever with other actors in the booth or always by yourself?
JULIE : No. I was always by myself except for when I did Scooby-Doo it was in a room with a bunch of people. But, those are serialized. You know, it’s weekly or however they do it. So they’ve got a much faster production piece. I don’t think you can afford to bring one person in at a time. I was completely alone. But luckily Dane Cook was done. It was completely done. So I could hear him, I could hear Ed Harris, I could hear everybody else.
Q : At the end of the day did you walk away feeling different?
JULIE : You know, I think when I actually get to see the whole movie it’s gonna be really exciting. I’m not very good at watching myself, but I’m okay at listening to myself. It also feels so collaborative, it doesn’t feel like I’m raising the ‘I am 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.
Q: Did you get to ad-lib any?
Julie: JULIE : Yeah, like a lot of adlibbing. I’m not super great at joke telling or reading a line. Usually I have to lay the pipe a bit. That’s the person who gives you the story. Sometimes it’s not the exciting stuff, it’s not the jokes, but they’re laying it out. They’re like, Luke has the flu and Alex is here, and then Phil gets to go, oh…and my butt is frozen. Or whatever the funny line is.And this was, everybody else for the most part, were laying pipe and I had to come in with exactly this romance in my head. So really the possibilities were endless because they weren’t necessarily a hundred percent connected to what was going on. Like one thing, we’re gonna go here and then I would take that to, well what do you want me to tell him? It’s a date, it’s our third date? Our second date? I don’t know anything. I still am not sure a hundred percent what’s in there. But I’m sure it’s very, very perfect for children.
Q: How intensive was the process for the animators compared to your work on Modern Family?
Julie: I mean this was so great and short. Even though I sweat a lot and get really anxious whenever I had to go in, I didn’t have to go in that many times. Bob was so great that they just let me go, instead of trying to…let’s get the line. Stop. Let’s get the line. They just were like, just do whatever you want and we’ll tell you if we need something else. So they had a lot more material probably than they needed. I just went in to like polish up bits, or change it for legal reasons or whatever. It’s kind of hard to believe it’s actually coming out as a movie. It seemed like a fun place to go where I didn’t have to wear makeup. [LAUGHTER] Modern Family is you get there- it’s a process, but I’ve been doing TV for a long time so you’re getting there at six a.m. and somebody makes you look much better and, by the time you get to the stage at seven thirty in the morning it’s been hours and it’s like go team. This was very different.
Planes Fire and Rescue opens in theaters July 18th!