While on the set of Flora & Ulysses I spoke with the incredibly talented child actors – Matilda Lawler and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth.
Disney’s Flora & Ulysses is an absolutely hilarious family friendly movie about a squirrel with superpowers and the girl that saves his life. I was lucky enough to be on the set while they were filming back in 2019 and interviewed a lot of the cast. One of the things that really stayed with me about that day is the child actors — Matilda Lawler and Benjamin Evan Ainsworth.
They both are such incredible talents, and also extremely mature and well spoken for their ages. This is something that is evident in the film, but it was to all of us on set as well. I loved getting the chance to get to know them better.
In our interviews they discussed how they got involved with Flora & Ulysses, what it is like working with Ben Schwartz and Alyson Hannigan, and what they liked most about filming. Below are some of my favorite things I learned about these incredibly talented kids while on set.
Matilda Lawler (Flora)
I cannot say enough good things about Matilda and I absolutely adored speaking with her. She is such a little grown up. So well spoken and you could tell she really put thought and consideration into her answers. Watching her on set was impressive, and having now seen the movie, I am even more impressed with her. Especially learning that this was her first movie — and before it she had only done one play.
Matilda also said that it feels awesome to be in a Disney movie — and really, can you blame her? It was the script that drew her to the role of Flora, because she loved the story and the character so much. Fun fact, Flora & Ulysses is actually one of Matilda’s favorite books, and she read it before she even knew Disney was making a movie. Why is it her favorite book? Because the overall message is to never lose hope, and she thinks that is a really important message.
When asked what she loves about Flora she said she is funny, brave, and kind. However, Matilda immediately jumped in that she wants to eventually play a villain too! This girl is versatile enough to do that — so keep an eye out for her!
Her costar in the film is a squirrel who — spoiler alert — isn’t really an acting squirrel. Ulysses is created with CGI and so we asked Matilda if the process was challenging.
“It was definitely challenging in the beginning but they brought in a rat because rats are very similar to squirrels. I’ve been shooting with a grey stuffed animal and sometimes I am shooting with nothing. Sometimes I am moving my hands and pretending there is nothing there. It was very tricky in the beginning to get the hang of it.” – Matilda Lawler
When asked what she is most excited to tell people about from her experience filming Flora & Ulysses, Matilda said she just can’t wait to talk about what it is like being on the set and all the fun that she has. It is very clear that she had a blast filming. Of course, she wants to mention how pretty it is in Vancouver and all the adventures that she went on while staying there.
Benjamin Evan Ainsworth (William Spiver)
You might also recognize Benjamin from Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor, which has a much different feel than this movie. Don’t worry, he isn’t super creepy at William Spiver — he is actually quite hilarious! His character suffers from hysterical blindness, which is actually a real thing! Benjamin said that he had a blast pretending to be blind and finding ways to make it funny.
Flora & Ulysses was Benjamin’s first big job and he was really excited to get the part. He thinks the book, and the message of hope that it gives, is amazing. So is Benjamin like his character, William Spiver at all? Ben says that William is quite nerdy and likes Science a lot more than he does.
Surprisingly this was not Benjamin’s first time filming something that involves CGI. In fact, he played a characters whose leg was ripped off, and that had to be CGI. A little bit different than a CGI squirrel, but still CGI.
Both Benjamin and Matilda said their favorite scene to film is the one in the water park. I now know what scene they are talking about and can see why they enjoyed it so much! No spoilers here, but once you watch the film on Disney+, you will understand why they loved it so much too!
About Flora & Ulysses
Disney’s “Flora & Ulysses” is a delightful comedy-adventure based on the Newbery Award-winning book about 10-year old Flora, an avid comic book fan and a self-avowed cynic, whose parents have recently separated.
After rescuing a squirrel she names Ulysses, Flora is amazed to discover he possesses unique superhero powers which take them on an adventure of humorous complications that ultimately change Flora’s life–and her outlook–forever.