By Brandon Kosters
Photos by Stephen Vaughan
You may know Abigail Breslin for her roles in “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Signs.” She’s won a number of prestigious awards, and is one of the youngest actresses to have ever been nominated for an Oscar.
This week, you can hear her speak as “Priscilla,” an animated possum in a cowboy hat, in the film “Rango”, which hits theaters March 4th.
Brandon Kosters: So I’m wondering if you can speak about the process of recording a vocal track, or having to rely solely on your voice for a film, as opposed to say working directly on camera.
Abigail Breslin: Well, I mean, with this movie it was fun because we got to actually work together like we were filming a play, and so we actually got to be in the same room together and sort of play off of each other, which was really great to do. Instead of it being in a booth alone and talking into a microphone.
BK: So you have all of the actors present in the same place at the same time?
AB: Yeah. It was actually really fun because we were all in like a little bit of our costume. It was much better because you got the more like realistic feeling of making a movie.
BK: And you’ve done other voice work, correct?
AB: Have I? Well I did like one when I was younger, but I don’t really remember it too much. I remember a little bit of it, but this was the first time that I really remembered it, but I’ve always loved animated movies so this was fun.
BK: So then, do they show you an image, like a conceptual sketch of the character, and you have to develop a voice? What’s that process like?
AB: Well, basically, I got a sketch of Priscilla in the mail, and a letter from the director Gore Verbinski. The second that I saw her, I was just like in love, because she’s so adorable. I obviously wanted to play her because of the sketch. [Verbinski] asked me if I wanted to be in it, and he told me the sort of voice he wanted her to have. Sort of like deep, southern drawl sort of thing. It was kind of funny, because when we started, you know, I was 12, and I’m almost 15 now, but then I was 12, and I had to make my voice sound a little bit lower and sort of raspier and a little deeper, and when I went back in to redub some of the lines, I had to make myself sound a little bit higher (laughs) because I had gotten older. I call it “Chipmunkafying” your voice.
BK: Where they like speeding up your voice to make it …
AB: No. I had to do it myself. So I was like (talking higher) “I had to talk like a little bit higher.” But … it was fine (laughs).
BK: To what degree was Gore Vebrinski involved with the audio production? How was he directing this?
AB: We filmed it on a stage. Se we actually had cameras set up, and like, he just acted like a normal director would. He would call “cut” and then he would come up to all the actors and, you know, give them their direction. He was absolutely great to work with. He’s such a nice guy, and really specific about what he wants, but he also lets you experiment, which is really great.
BK: So we’re talking about a period of about 3 years between principle recording and the film being completed, yes?
AB: Exactly. I’ve gone in a few different times to sort of redo a line, if you heard like a necklace moving around or something like that [in the recording]. So I had to go in an redub a few of them, but not very many. I was actually very surprised. It was great because I got see different stages of [the film] being animated, so … to finally see the final, final thing is really cool.
BK: So when did you see the completed film for the first time?
AB: Well I’ve been going in and seeing like 300 different versions of it, so I think that the version that you saw was probably … did you see it?
AB: OK. So I think that the version you saw was probably the last version I saw. It’s great to see it all finished because the animation is so realistic looking in it, and it really makes the story that much more cool.
BK: So you’ve had a fairly momentous career in an extremely short period of time. How do you think this film fits into your body of work?
AB: You know, I feel really lucky that I get to make movies, and get to play all these different characters. So I feel really lucky. And this movie I loved doing Priscilla is like, amazing. She’s so fun to play. I was really excited to get to play her, and a really cool movie to get to do, and I loved the story of it, so it was great.
BK: What other projects do you have in the works?
AB: I have a movie coming out called Janey Jones, and I sing in it, so I’m really excited for that. I actually just wrote and recorded a song with my best friend in New York, so I’m excited for that too. And I’m going to be starting a movie in New York in March called “New Year’s Eve.”
BK: Where are you from originally?
AB: New York.
BK: You’re from New York?
AB: Born and raised (laughs).
BK: How did you get involved with the entertainment industry?
AB: Well my brother started acting before I did. He was discovered at an indoor playground in New York. He started acting. I sort of just fell into it. I really loved it. I got my first movie when I was five, so I had a lot of fun with it. I wanted to keep doing it, and I’ve been really lucky that I’ve gotten to. I like your jacket by the way. It’s really cool.
BK: Thank you. So you guys are touring now, promoting the film?
AB: Yeah. It’s been crazy. We went to Boston on … Sunday? (Laughs) I don’t even remember my days now. Sunday [three days ago]. And then Monday we went to Miami, and then … yesterday we flew here, and then this afternoon we’re going to LA. [And then onto] San Francisco, New York, Berlin, Paris, Rome. So … It’s kind of a long stretch over like two weeks. Being a day in each city. It’s pretty crazy. But it’s fun.
BK: So do you enjoy this process?
AB: It’s fun. It’s fun to get to travel. It gets a little tiring. I woke up at like 7 a.m. this morning, and like … I was so disoriented. I was like “Why am I not in my room? Where the heck are we?” cause I thought we were in Miami. I had a very disoriented morning today (laughs) apparently. I think I was dreaming. I don’t know.
BK: Do you see yourself sustaining a career in this field?
AB: Yeah. This is something I really love to do and I have a lot of fun with. Hopefully, I’ll keep doing it.
Check again soon for our interview with “Rango” director Gore Verbinski.