The incredible Strange World cast discusses what they brought to their characters, and to the film. Strange World hits theaters November 23rd.
Strange World is a movie inspired by pulp fiction films and magazines, but at the heart of it all is a message about family. During the press conference, Producer Roy Conli raves about the Strange World voice cast, going so far as to say that he has “never had a cast so devoted to the story.” He says that from day one Jake, Dennis, Gabrielle, and Jaboukie, brought their A-game. “That’s the wonderful thing about animation. It is an iterative art form, and everyone contributes. There’s 450 people who’ve touched this thing, and these four that are in front of me did such an amazing job in terms of bringing these characters to life.”
Strange World Cast Discusses What They Brought To The Film
It is clear just how right Roy is by the way the cast speaks about the film in the interview. Jake Gyllenhaal (voice of Searcher Clade) says that for him, the first thing he looks at when considering a role is the story. “I could feel from Don and Qui and from Ron early on that it came from a true place.” He goes on to explain that it felt very personal for him and he loved that it came directly from Don’s personal experiences. “That drew me in.”
Jake was then able to bring his own family and experiences to the table and to the recording booth. “That’s what makes working with them so wonderful is they’re really open to you bringing yourself. And little do you know all the animators are starting to watch your face, watch your movement, watch your facial expressions. And the character slowly does become you as you become it in this odd, extraordinary transformation.”
Searcher Clade is a farmer and Jake laughs saying that he has farming experience, and it is even successful at times — well, as far as farming goes. “Mostly hemp and soybeans. A few of my close friends are actual farmers. And in terms of adventures, yeah, I love adventures, too.” If he had to choose one as a career, he admits he would probably go with farming. “I really do love to cook. So to me, and what comes from the earth and what we eat one of the most important things in my life. I do cook for myself, sometimes. When I do, I like getting it from the ground.”
Dennis Quaid (voice of Jaegar Clade) really enjoyed bringing himself into his role as well. He describes Jaegar as a fixated person. “He sees himself as the greatest explorer the world has ever known. He wants his son, in that traditional sense, to carry on the banner and the legacy of all that.” Dennis continues, “It felt like a real family with real issues that you would wind up fighting over the Thanksgiving dinner table. It was real to me.”
Dennis says that Strange World is “the hero’s journey told in three different ways, all three of us as generational.” He explains “I think Jaeger harkens back to maybe even the ’50s and ’60s when the man was supposed to go out and work. And he’d be gone, and you didn’t think twice about it, and he could be heroic. And at the same time, what you miss is everything that’s really important.”
Jaboukie Young-White (voice of Ethan Clade) laughs as he talks about recording the weed picking scene and how much fun that was for him in the booth. He talks about Ethan with a smile on his face as he says “what’s fun about Ethan is that he does play the peacemaker, but also, he’s like the last piece of the destiny being fulfilled. Searcher thought he was all clear. He was away from his father, and then he has Ethan. And he’s like, ‘This is round two. This is everything all over again.'”
Jaboukie recalls when Don would be in the studio with him to help him record, and talks about how hilarious he is. He vividly remembers Don playing Splat and making ridiculous noises. “This whole experience has been really emotional and fun and just all over the place.”
Gabrielle Union (the voice of Meridian Clade) explains that Strange World came to her around the same time as another film where she plays a mother, although a very different type of mother, called The Inspection. She thought to herself that she needed some levity and was happy that Meridian is a good mom in this movie. “I jumped at the chance because not only did I need some chuckles to offset the darkness, I just want to play in a different medium. I’d been in the minor leagues, and I’d done voice acting before in a smaller scale with Disney at Disney Junior. But to be able to provide a voice for the famed Disney Animation department, that’s like a dream come true.”
Gabrielle says that after she read the script, she was able to ad lib and was pleasantly surprised by how much of her improv made the final cut. “It just made it fun and easy and super-efficient. And rarely in this town do people care about efficiency and your time. And you walk in, they’re all truly, legit wonderful people.” She loves the freedom that she was given in this project to truly be able to bring herself to Meridian.
It is more than that though, she is very pleased with the way the animators handled the look of her character, and allowed her to shine through. “Starting with the animation, having a little black girl at home who is obsessed with hair, and her hair, and everyone’s hair, seeing the hair texture of Meridian’s, and the curls, and us very much leaning into the natural hair movement and the celebration of our hair in its natural state, that was huge. Her having very Afrocentric features, her having a shape. That was awesome. And a reasonable breast to hip ratio that’s more realistic. All of that was really important.”
She finishes up by saying that she had to suppress so much of who she is in The Inspection, and Strange World allowed her to show how she is in real life. “I’m not like a regular mom. I’m a cool mom with the big life.”
Full Strange World Filmmakers Interview
Be sure to check out our full interview with Strange World Filmmakers Don Hall and Qui Nguyen to hear about the inspirations behind this beautiful film and more.
About Strange World
The feature film introduces a legendary family of explorers, the Clades, as they attempt to navigate an uncharted, treacherous land alongside a motley crew that includes a mischievous blob, a three-legged dog and a slew of ravenous creatures. “Inspired by classic adventure stories,” said director Don Hall, “‘Strange World’ is an original animated adventure/comedy about three generations of the Clade family who overcome their differences while exploring a strange, wondrous and oftentimes hostile world.”
The voice cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal as Searcher Clade, a family man who finds himself out of his element on an unpredictable mission; Dennis Quaid as Searcher’s larger-than-life explorer father, Jaeger; Jaboukie Young-White as Searcher’s 16-year-old son, Ethan, who longs for adventure; Gabrielle Union as Meridian Clade, an accomplished pilot and Searcher’s partner in all things; and Lucy Liu as Callisto Mal, Avalonia’s fearless leader who spearheads the exploration into the strange world.
“Strange World” is helmed by Don Hall (Oscar®-winning “Big Hero 6,” “Raya and the Last Dragon”) and co-director/writer Qui Nguyen (co-writer “Raya and the Last Dragon”), and produced by Roy Conli (Oscar®-winning “Big Hero 6,” “Tangled”).
You Might Also Enjoy...
Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association, and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.