With Aardman Animation’s Early Man opening in North American theaters this weekend, a few days ago I got on the phone with Maisie Williams to talk about voicing a character in the stop-motion film directed by Nick Park. During the exclusive interview she talked about how she got involved in the project, what people would be surprised to learn about the recording process, how things changed during production, and so much more. In addition, she talked about why she wanted to be part of director Peter Hutchings’ Departures with Asa Butterfield, what it was like working with director Josh Boone on The New Mutants and the new release date, and more.
If you’re not familiar with Early Man, the film takes place during the crossroads between the Stone Age and the Bronze Age and follows a young caveman named Dug (Eddie Redmayne) who gets whisked away to a Bronze Age city ruled by Lord Nooth (Tom Hiddleston). Dug then takes part in a soccer tournament where the future of his cavepeople is on the line. Maisie Williams plays a local soccer player recruited to help Dug’s team. For more on Early Man, read Matt Goldberg’s review.
Check out what Maisie Williams had to say below.
MAISIE WILLIAMS: They approached me a while ago and asked if I would play Goona. Originally I wasn’t sure it was something I’d be able to do. It was always something I wanted to do, I was always a big fan of animation when I was younger. Also, Aardman is based in Bristol, where I am from, so it has always been a huge part of my upbringing. So yeah, I am just really excited.
Yeah, I actually got to visit Aardman once. What people don’t realize, unless they’ve moved, is that that’s where a world famous animation company is located when you pull in that parking lot.
WILLIAMS: Exactly. It’s so discreet (laughs).
What would surprise people to learn about the recording process?
WILLIAMS: For the most part you’re on your own, without anyone else. Quite often you don’t know which take they’re going to use until it’s finished. It’s quite often they run into little difficulties when animating and then we try and work fast, and which line is better for whatever’s on screen. Quite often you just have to laugh in the dark, to be honest. Yeah, it was a really, really good experience and it really tested me as an actor.
I was going to say- you’ve mentioned it a number of times- I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have worked on animated films and what they sign on for, and what the finished product is can be radically different. How much did the film and your character change during development- or was it sort of your character was always the same but the dialogue was a little different?
WILLIAMS: My character changed a lot. Actually not the character, but just her role in the movie. About halfway through animating they showed it to a focus group and everyone was really thrilled to see such a confident female character, so they wanted to see more of her. When it came to the third act she had a lot more to do. So yeah, she didn’t really change very much, in fact people loved her so much that they gave her more to do.