LOS ANGELES – The boozy, blustery Scottish people are getting a Hollywood close-up with Brave, the latest adventure from the animators who brought you Toy Story, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo and Up.
Disneys Pixar Animation have crafted a meticulous vision of Scotland with its mossy crags, rugged peaks and red-haired lads and lasses in their story of a spirited young woman (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) who bucks ancient Celtic tradition.
Macdonald, fellow Scottish voice stars Craig Ferguson and Kevin McKidd, Brave director Mark Andrews and producer Katherine Sarafian chatted with The Associated Press about just what it is that puts the Scot into the Scottish land and people:
Q. Scottish people get stereotyped as hard drinkers. Is that true?
A. Its a drinking culture. It really is in Scotland, and also Ireland and the UK in general. Theres a big drinking culture in a way that in Italy, theres not. In Italy, theyll drink wine with lunch, and thats just, nobody would do that in Scotland. You wait until youve finished your work and everything at the end of the day, and then you get completely blotto. Its a stereotype for a reason.
Q. How well does Brave depict the character of the Scottish?
A. They really captured the essence and I think the humor of the Scottish people. We sort of put our two bits in, as well, the actors, because we would have dialogue that would be a bit Americanized. Even if the words arent understood, you get the gist of everything. And the male characters, they really captured that certain ego and bluster and kind of puffed-up-ness to them.
Q. Youre wearing a kilt. Is that normal dress at Pixar?
A. I started working at Pixar in 2000, and I came kilt on. So every party, every kind of shindig thats been happening at Pixar, Ive always been in my kilt. So its kind of weird that Ive been a Scottish buff, myth and legends buff. This films right up my alley, so for Pixar to come and ask me to jump on board, take over directing, I didnt see that coming.
Q. What are the Scottish people like?
A. One thing Ive noticed in my dealings with them is that they will pick on you. They will try to offend you or say something to kind of get your ire up, to see if youre smart enough to figure out that theyre just kidding. If you can realize that I just met this stranger, theyre not really insulting me right off the bat, and give them a taste of their own medicine, they usually just laugh it off and go, OK, this guy is cool. Its like a test.
Q. Do the Scottish people in Brave resemble the real thing?
A. I think they do. What happens is, there are stereotypes about the Scottish people. Theres the positive stereotype of the kind of noble warrior poet, and theres the negative stereotype about the angry, belligerent drunk. Both of these have a basis in fact. But what I havent seen captured too often in films made outside of Scotland is the sense of whimsy and the sense of fun that exists in the Scottish psyche.
Q. Brave is animated, but does the landscape feel like the real Scotland?
A. Theyve really captured that magical, whimsical feeling about Scotland. If youve ever stood on a hillside in Scotland or stood on a ferry going over to one of those beautiful islands as the sun is setting, theres a magic, a patina to Scotland. You understand why people were incredibly superstitious hundreds of years ago. I said the other day, I didnt think it would be possible to make an improvement on Scotland, but I think Pixar has actually managed it.
Q. If someone going to Scotland asked what to expect, what would you tell them?
A. I think youd expect the people to have this steely look on their face. Very, like, unapproachable, like you would never want to go up to one of these people and ask a question. And I learned theyve had to brace their faces from the weather. Mark tells the story about being there and there was no room at the inn basically, so its Excuse me, would you possibly know if theres any rooms? And then its Yes! Of course! My mate down the road has a place! Let me show you the way! Suddenly, youre family. They really are very friendly and warm and gregarious behind that face.