Disney’s Christopher Robin shows what life is like now for the young boy who grew up and left behind the stuffed animal friends he shared countless adventures with in the Hundred Acre Wood. As an efficiency manager at Winslow Luggage, Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) spends more hours in the office than with his own family (Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael), who are growing tired of his broken promises, prompting Winnie the Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings), Eeyore (voiced by Brad Garrett), Piglet (voiced by Nick Mohammed) and Tigger (also voiced by Cummings) to leave the Hundred Acre Wood for the first time, on a mission to remind their old friend of the endless days of wonder and make-believe that defined his childhood.
At the film’s Los Angeles press day, Collider (along with a handle of other outlets) was invited to participate in a roundtable interview with actor Jim Cummings (who voices both Winnie the Pooh and Tigger), who talked about the magic of these characters from the Hundred Acre Wood, how he originally took over voicing Pooh and Tigger, the process of voicing the two different characters, retaining Pooh’s sense of wonder, the beauty of the film’s message, some of the favorite characters he’s voiced, over the years, and what it means to him to be a part of the Disney family.
Collider: Because you have been voicing Winnie the Pooh and Tigger for so long, what is the magic of these characters for you?
JIM CUMMINGS: I can’t even describe it. I just have to say that it’s truly a blessing and an honor. It’s a privilege to carry these characters forward to a new generation, in such a fresh way. They’re absolutely beautiful, these little guys. I even have a teddy bear of my own at home that’s about 60 years old, and it’s all I could do to keep from throwing him into the Hundred Acre Wood with the rest of his friends. It’s just so sweet and such a blessed feeling. The reception to the movie has been so beautiful. It gets me just as much as it does anybody else because I feel like I’m in the audience. I’m literally never on the screen, even though it’s my voice. It’s just wonderful. It gets me right in the feels, which apparently is a new expression.
Did you have any trepidation, when you initially took over the voicing of Pooh from Sterling Holloway?
CUMMINGS: Gosh, back then, Pooh hadn’t been around for 20 some years. Back then, I thought, “Oh, wow, that was so cute. I enjoyed that a lot.” My little brother liked it more than I did ‘cause I was too old, but I thought, “This is great. What a cool thing.” And then, I ended up being Tigger, as well, when Paul [Winchell] retired. God bless ‘em, they’ve both since passed away. There wasn’t trepidation so much as excitement. At this point, I feel like it’s a duty to do it right. I have to preserve it and keep it going. In 1929, The Wizard of Oz, Gone with the Wind and Snow White all came out, and they could all be released now and they’d probably do rather well. The point is that they last forever. These movies don’t go anywhere. They’ll always be there. I just hope it comes across and everybody loves it as much as we all did. It’s a beautiful thing.
When this was pitched to you as a half live-action, half CG-animated film, did you have concerns about that?
CUMMINGS: I thought, “Hmm, how’s that gonna work?” You don’t want to do it Roger Rabbit style because that’s not what this genre supports, especially after the beauty of Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book. I absolutely bought a 20-foot orangutan. I was in. I think it carries its own magic. It’s not the same, but it’s just as magical. This is a little hyper-real. It’s got its own magic and I think people are going to respond to it, beautifully.