Before Disney’s “Planes" even hit theaters last summer the studio had announced that the sequel, "Planes: Fire and Rescue,” would soar in 2014. And their confidence in the “Cars” spin-off was not wrong, with the original movie bringing in $220 million worldwide.
As expected, many of the colorful characters audiences loved from the first film also appear in “Fire and Rescue,” but since Dusty (voiced by Dane Cook) has transitioned from racing to saving lives and forests, there’s a slight change in tone here. This new trailer emphasizes the fact that being part of the heroic rescue team requires a new type of focus and dedication from Dusty.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t still be plenty of fun. Yahoo Movies recently caught up on the phone with new “Planes” voice cast member Julie Bowen — the two-time Emmy winner for ABC’s “Modern Family” who plays super-scooper plane Dipper — about the special blend of energy and kookiness she brought to the role. And she revealed if she has gained any cool points with her kids now that she’s going to have her own toy.
Are your children a little bit more excited about this role versus other roles you’ve done?
Julie Bowen: Oh, they are SO excited, and, unfortunately, they’re pretty young. They’ve watched “Cars” more times than a human being can count. They’ve watched “Planes” a thousand times, and they still get confused when they watch “Planes,” they go, “Mom, why aren’t you in it?” as if if they play it one more time I’ll appear. So they’re very excited and they know my character’s name and they cannot wait.
Speaking of your character, who or what is Dipper? She’s described as a “Super Scooper”?
J.B.: It was actually quite fun, I’ve never done a project like this. I have no voice skills but they were so great and Bobs [Gannaway] the director, the writers and producers were amazing. I had no idea how to do this or what the process is, I know how to do commercial voice overs, it’s very strict and limited. They were like, “We wrote some stuff but you can do whatever you want and we’ll work together” and so I was just jumping around, they had written a character who is a little kooky, I loved how weird she was. She thinks Dusty is her boyfriend just because he said “Hello,” she’s racing down the aisle. She’s a little bit needy in the love arena and I had so much fun with that, I just went crazy and God bless those people, they edited it into something.
How much fun is it as a different type of acting?
J.B.: Oh my Lord, it was so fun. I got so lucky because, first of all, I’m an actress so I’m a little kooky. We’re all a little fragile and you’re in a booth and you’re alone and you can’t hear them but they can hear you. So the first day I walked in and said, “I’m going to imagine that every single time I can’t hear you that you’re saying nothing but how bad I am, so now that that’s out…” and that became a running joke. One of them would press the button and go, “She’s awful,” because they knew I was sweating bullets. It’s not a high jump where you know you’ve cleared the bar, you just keep going and I knew I was getting in the zone with the voice and the humor but if they hadn’t allowed me to work like that, if they’d said “Just say what’s on the page,” I would have been a little lost.
Did you feel more or less tired from each recording session versus a day on the “Modern Family” set?
J.B.: Well, I’m fairly physical in both roles but there was one day where I said, “Hey, do you guys mind if I turn on the AC in here?” I kicked my shoes off, I jump around and also I am a bundle of nerves in real life and it’s funny everything shows up in your voice. You think you’re calm and collected and then you hear the playback and it’s like, “Oh God what a nightmare.” So I kind of have to jump it out of me.
That’s an interesting point, it’s great that you can pick up on that yourself, even though no one likes the sound of their own voice
J.B.: Oh I have this lazy jaw, I always thought I had this prissy sort of boarding school English [accent] because I grew up back east and went to boarding school and always thought I sounded like a newscaster, but listening to my voice with no face to look at, ughh. It was like a drunken Valley Girl.
Ha, well that isn’t true. I instantly recognized your voice from your Olive Garden commercials…
J.B.: Well that is a totally different thing, it’s so much less about character and so much more about feeling and being… [laughs] I get really into it. You have to imagine the food and get into the whole thing to sell it. Otherwise it sounds flat, to me. I guess I’m not very good at doing voices, I have to act my way into the whole thing.
No way, they hire you for a reason.
J.B.: Because I’m bonkers, but thank you.
You mentioned Dipper being romantically interested in Dusty, how exactly do airplane relationships or crushes work exactly?
J.B.: I haven’t seen the final cut but I did see, we did some short videos they’re going to release to introduce the characters as they come out I think, Dipper’s was about dating, so I got to find out more about exactly how that works. But again since I haven’t seen the final I’m not sure how far they can go with the humor. There were early jokes about how Dipper can land on the water and has a great set of pontoons, the kind of jokes that go way past a young kids, it’s really a joke for the parents. All those great movies they all have something for the parents to chortle at.
Dipper does describe herself as “a svelte 32,000 pounds” and I thought that was really funny she’s a plane for God’s sake, she’s trying to play it up like she has a beautiful set of pontoons and is a slim 32,000 pounds with fuel, 29,924 without, they make fun of all of that in how we love to give our stats. But how do they explain plane relationships? You know they never explained it in “Cars” which is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I don’t care.
That brings up a good point too about Disney, they seem to be doing a good job in creating more unique female characters, did you feel that there was something interesting here with Dipper?
J.B.: Yes I do. We grew up in kind of the post-princess era. Even as we were watching the princesses we heard that we weren’t supposed to be emulating them, like when Belle [from “Beauty and the Beast”] came along, everything was already about girls who read and girls who fought back and didn’t need the prince to come rescue them so to me it seems like they’ve been doing that a long time. Yeah, they were featuring princesses, but Disney came up with the “anti-princess: before anybody did, so I’m not surprised at how much they have allowed good roles in animated films as well.
This one was just so much fun. Honestly, Dipper, if she wasn’t rescuing people and putting out fires, she could be a bit of a throwback in how needy and desperate she is when it comes to being in a relationship. But I kind of feel Disney has earned the right to have an insecure female because they’ve put so many strong women out there for girls to look up to.
Some people seem particularly sensitive about the issue.
J.B.: Yes, like somehow children will think the world is actually a cartoon. I showed my son a video of Gwen Stefani’s “Wind it Up” because we watch “The Sound of Music” a lot and we watched it online and he looked at me and this is the only time I’ve really been baffled. He said, “Is this happening?” And I said, “What do you mean? Is it real?” Because it wasn’t drawn and he knows that cartoons are fake, but this looked like these people might actually be doing this in another room and it’s being filmed. He wasn’t quite sure if it was a documentary, but there is no doubt in his mind when he sees a cartoon, “That’s not real.” Kids just know that, I knew it and I feel like you’re saying you knew it.
Is there any friendly competition about your upcoming Disney releases with your “Modern Family” co-star Mr. Ty Burrell?
J.B.: Oh my lord, I don’t even think I’ve admitted it to Ty. Ty Burrell, lord almighty, I am more excited than — well I don’t know if his wife is excited or not — but I go nuts for pictures of the “Mr. Peabody and Sherman" posters. I stop and point at them. Ty is one of those people who is so talented and so magnificent. He jokes about, "What furniture are we going to burn?" before he got "Modern Family," but he certainly wasn’t getting his due. So when somebody that nice, that lovely, cannot enter a room and fail to make it better for everyone in it, gets as many opportunities and does them all so well, I am so excited for him. And "Peabody," come on, I’m thrilled. There is no competition, I can’t wait to see "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" and I’m excited for "The Muppets: Most Wanted" too.
in perks of working for Disney/ABC, do they pay you with in “Planes” swag? Do you get passes to the parks?
J.B.: Oh we got some swag. I took my oldest to the premiere. I’m very straight with them about the nature of the business, and Oliver wanted to go to the “Planes” premiere and I was invited and he goes, “Do I have to have my picture taken?” And I said, “No but I do. That’s why they invited me so I’m going to have to.” And he says “Can’t you just skip it?” I said, “It’s free, [but it’s] not free. That’s how this business works and you love getting all the toys and every now and again you smile, that’s all. I don’t ask him to, but I said to him, “Mom’s going to and your choice is to either smile or stand to the side and smile, but no grumping because that’s a part of the business.” But then we’re at the premiere and getting the swag and he was melting down because we didn’t get there early enough to go to every single booth. But I have to admit, I did ask Bobs and everyone involved, etc. “Is there going to be a Dipper doll?”
Of course there is.
J.B.: I know! But I can’t even imagine it! It’s very exciting. One of the things they pointed out to me early on is that planes don’t have mouths, they don’t even have grills, all the cars have grills so they really had to work hard to make a face on the planes with very little and they did a really good job, I’m in awe of those people.
I can’t wait to see this movie, I’m very excited. And I love me some “Planes” but I have seen it enough, my kids watch it on endless repeat so I’m very excited for “Planes Fire and Rescue” and hopefully that will give me a little cred and maybe they’ll do their homework without complaining for awhile.
“Planes: Fire and Rescue" hits theaters July 18.