I was invited to the “KUBO and The Two Strings” interview and press junket at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills, CA. We were graced with the acclaimed actors, Charlize Theron, who is the voice of “Monkey,” Matthew McConughey, who voices “Beetle” and Art Parkinson, the voice of “KUBO”.
We sat with the cast on the morning after we watched movie, so naturally my mind was racing with questions and excitement as they shared their experience in becoming a part of their animated characters. The common thought process all of the actors shared was the love of their own families. It translated through them as they channeled their individual character’s stories.
Art Parkinson (Game of Thrones) brought the character KUBO to life. When the actors were asked how they related to the characters, Art shared the relationship he has with his mother, which is very special to him. He says “For me, I could relate to it and draw memories of me and my mother.” He further explained they were very close and how he drew from his own relationship which paralleled Kubo’s, “…by the way I treated my mother and by the way my mother liked to be treated,” continuing, “very respectfully, and I think I really brought that into my character in how I portrayed him.”
Charlize Theron voiced the role of “Monkey”, easily relating to her own Mother who was very honest and straightforward with her. Charlize shared, “I was raised by a mother that never shied away from anything, ” she continued, “being 40 I just appreciate that, being a parent myself, and raising my children very similarly, because it had such a huge impact on me”.
Charlize stressed, “To be honest and truthful to your children is the most important thing that you can do as a parent.” She explained about the directness in the Monkey’s personality, “I think Monkey is so similar to that. I think Monkey has two very, very different characteristics, and one is very nurturing and one is very dry and sensible. It’s sometimes almost brutal. It’s the person who, you know, says get up, get up. And I connect with that. I can really tap in with that. That to me is very real.”
Both Charlieze and Matthew had the desire to be involved with a project which would be family friendly, as both have been involved with movies they have yet to share with their children. “I’ve always joked that my kids would have to be 52 before they could see anything I’ve been in” Charlieze says. Matthew shares “With three kids, a lot of my friends were like asking them, “so what’s your favorite movie your dad did?” And they’re like, “well, we’ve never seen any of ‘em.” I haven’t made any films in about 10 years that they could see. Yeah, sit down, guys, let’s watch True Detective.”
Besides the attraction to being an animated character, the opportunity to work with Travis Knight, CEO of LAIKA, was just as exciting. Matthew feels LAIKA ‘s other films have given him an impression and says, “That’s something LAIKA seems to do with all their projects. They don’t really pander down to the age group. They deal with adult themes in a way that’s digestible for kids. There’s always a good moral to the story, that’s learned in the middle of the adventure. I liked their previous work and this script had all that”.
Matthew also spent time reading the script with his kids and thoroughly enjoyed going to see the final movie with them. He shares, “We read this over quite a few nights at bedtime and they got into it, understood it. I’d watch their reaction to where they thought things were oh, scary, spooky or funny, and then we all went and watched the film. I had a great time watching the film but I also had a great time looking out of the corner of eye at my kids at what they were laughing at. My eldest son in all the animated films he watched, he always loves the goofy sidekick, and that’s what I got to play, sort of the goofy Beetle, you know? And so they still to this day since they’ve seen it will walk by and ask me something, and as I’m trying to think, they’ll be like, “oh, well, I suppose you forgot, like the Beetle”.”
KUBO is a humble and heartfelt tale clearly the actors are very proud of telling. Matthew explains, “One of the things that I like about the story, (try to teach to my children as well, and it’s true for all of us), is that you have to fight for your own third act. You have to fight for your own happy ending, and as Charlize was saying, directness. Definitely the story is about saying, no, don’t deny anything that’s out there, and the truth may burn and it may be hard, but that’s the only way you get through your third act with a happy ending, if it’s possible.”