Last week on the Disney lot in sunny Burbank, California the release of Zootopia Blu-Ray and DVD drew quite a crowd. Fans and filmmakers gathered to share cookies, talk about the creative process and learn how to draw some of the characters.
If you haven’t seen the film it’s about a city populated with animals. Judy Hopps, wonderfully performed by Ginnifer Goodwin, is the first rabbit on the police force and she’s not having an easy go of it. She teams up with a wily fox, Nick Wilde, played by Jason Bateman. The two uncover a sinister plot to turn the citizens against one another and the adventure begins.
The movie is jam-packed with talent. Additional vocal performers are Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, Shakira, Raymond Persi, Maurice LaMarche, Tiny Lister, John DiMaggio, Katie Lowes and Jesse Corti.
Actress Ginnifer Goodwin was present to answer some questions.
Zootopia is about to be released on Digital HD, Blu-ray™ and Disney Movies Anywhere. What does the in-home release mean to you, Ginnifer?
I’m a mom, so I rarely get to go out. This is how I watch everything, so I’m thrilled that Zootopia is going to be available to everyone in this way.
What was it like to step into the recording booth for the movie?
I had so much fun in the recording booth. Most of the time, I was alone in there. The directors of the movie would read the lines of the other characters and I’d act against that, which was great. Every now and then, I’d also work with Jason Bateman [who voices a sly fox named Nick Wilde in the animation], but that was always a bit of a disaster.
Why was it a disaster?
I blew every recording session with Jason because he is so funny. I would laugh while he was talking and I would ruin every recording! He is really good at improvising lines, but I couldn’t keep up. I would forget I was acting and I would start laughing – and it would mess up an entire take. We only did two or three sessions together, but that’s probably the reason why. I couldn’t stop laughing when he was around.
How would you describe your experience in the recording booth?
I did a million different takes; a million different versions of each scene, and then it was up to the directors to decide who this character was going to be and what her journey was going to involve. It was really fun to see Judy and the movie evolve.
What went through your mind when you saw the finished film for the very first time?
When I first saw the finished film, I was so taken aback by the fact that Judy is such a butt-kicking, action heroine. She is good, kind, generous and well-meaning. She’s never cynical or jaded by the things she learns. I think Judy Hopps is an incredible role model, and that’s what struck me when I saw the movie.
What qualities do you bring to the character of Judy Hopps?
I feel like Judy is just me animated, which is a huge compliment and a huge honor. What qualities do we share? We’re both optimistic and idealistic and a little bit self-righteous. Judy is a lot more fearless than I am, though.
Disney animators love to hide secret movie references within their films. Were you aware of any Easter eggs when you were recording your voice for the movie?
I knew that there were going to be Easter eggs in the movie, but I didn’t necessarily know about the visual references. For example, I didn’t know about the bootleg video stand until I saw the movie – but I did know about the more line-based Easter eggs, such as The Godfather references and the Breaking Bad references.
Which of the visual Easter eggs did you enjoy the most?
I think the bootleg video stand is my favorite visual Easter egg in the movie because there are so many references packed into two shots. In general, if you scan the walls of the world of Zootopia, you see amazing references everywhere.
At what point did you realize there were Frozen Easter eggs in the movie?
The first time I saw the movie, I missed the Frozen line because I was in a tiny screening room. The second time I saw the movie, I was with a big group of people and everyone started to laugh when Chief Bogo said his Let It Go line. I felt like a fool that I hadn’t caught it until that moment!
How does it feel to be the voice of an iconic new Disney character?
It’s incredibly exciting. To be honest, it’s a dream come true to play Judy Hopps in Zootopia. It’s fantastic!
Did you dream big when you were a child?
When I was little, one of my biggest dreams was to be an actress. My second biggest dream was to be in a Disney animated feature, and I’m not lying when I say that. You can ask my mom! For the most part, I’ve been really lucky and I’ve achieved everything that I’ve ever wanted. Acting was always the plan, but I’ll have to come up with some additional dreams now.
What were you like as a child?
I was an okay student. I loved English because I loved language and I loved literature. I started a drama club at one of the schools I attended, and I always was part of the school play. I was always part of the plays at the local community center, too. People thought I was a little dorky, but I had a really healthy upbringing with a lot of love and a lot of support. I’ve always wanted to act because it was fun, and it still is fun. I’d stop if it wasn’t fun any more.
Judy Hopps is repeatedly told that she will never become a police officer. Were you ever told that you couldn’t achieve something?
As an actress, I feel like I’m told I can’t do something all the time. That’s daily life for an actor. When I was growing up, I was certainly told by people – whom I did not befriend – that it was silly of me to think that I could make it. People would constantly point out that I’m psychically not part of what one would consider a ‘Hollywood package’. But I didn’t really care, because I thought there were enough roles to go around. Everybody’s story needs to be told, so you’ve got to have lots of different people in Hollywood. Why wouldn’t there be room for me?
In the movie, Judy Hopps says things that she goes on to regret at a press conference. Have you ever said something that you instantly regretted?
Not to that extent, for sure. But I definitely wish I had handled things differently at certain points in the past. At the very beginning of my career, I was probably a little more reactive and I didn’t necessarily think before I spoke. I had less of a grip on my emotions back then, so I’ve definitely had to learn how to control myself because I realized I was only making myself look bad. However, I hope that I’ve never said anything that was detrimental to others.
Would you like to see a Zootopia 2?
I pray that there will be a sequel. I’ve been begging for it. What would I like to see happen in the sequel? I would like to see Judy go to a dark place. I would like Nick Wilde to show her that the world is a world worth fighting for; that the world is worth saving. In this movie, it’s the other way around. Judy shows Nick these things. It would be fun to change it up for a sequel. Count me in!
Zootopia is now available everywhere on Blu-Ray, DVD, and Amazon Prime. Special features include round tables with the actors and animators, the “Try Everything” music video from Shakira, a list of Easter Eggs in the film, and a feature-length documentary detailing the process of making the film.