Last time I sat down with Ginnifer Goodwin it was for her role as Fawn in Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast. That was just about a year ago, her son Oliver wasn’t even one, and she talked about being sleep deprived and how balancing work as a new mom wasn’t easy. Here we are a year later, Oliver isn’t quite 2 and she is pregnant with baby number 2 and seems to have that work and being a mom thing down pat.
Ginnifer plays Judy Hopps in Disney’s lastest film Zootopia. She’s a young bunny with big dreams. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, kinda like Ginnifer herself. It was fun to chat about her new role and how she feels about her son watching anything that voices at this time. Being 7 months pregnant kept Ginnifer from being able to join us face to face, so she kindly granted us her time via satellite, and even via screen, she took the time to be personal and sweet. Ginnifer is such a “Disney” actress, you can’t help but love her.
Ginnifer Goodwin: Why Her Son Won’t See Zootopia
How did you prepare for your role as Judy Hopps?
I would like to say that I have a lot of artistic integrity and lived on a rabbit farm for a month, but I really just relinquished all control, which was new for me because I think control is something for which actors are always fighting and creating and protecting characters, but this is a new world for me, animation. I really understand that everything physical, everything making up everything that you see, with as much as they might have filmed me with cameras in the recording booth, everything was really in the hands of the animators. This is not an actor’s medium, so all I did was show up and try to be completely emotionally available and said my lines and tried different things and wore sneakers so I could jump around and that’s about it. I mean, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had. I mean, no one should get paid to have this much fun. Except me. I’ll totally take it.
What made you want to play the role of Judy Hopps?
To be honest, there was one word that convinced me that I needed to take this role and that was Disney. That’s the truth. I was sitting in Mickey Mouse pajamas in my kitchen. I was pregnant. I was in Vancouver shooting Once Upon a Time and I got a phone call that I was being offered this job and I had never heard of Zootopia and I took it immediately and my representatives, who were all on the phone because they knew I’d work out fine which I did. My representative said, don’t you want to know anything about the character or the script and I said well, of course. I mean, I want to, but we like, just accept the job first and then call me back. So they did and I actually didn’t read the script for a little while. I went in and I sat down with the filmmakers. They showed me the storyboards. They created the world for me, walked me through everything and I was shown a version of the script, it’s similar to what we made, but definitely would have been a different movie. One of the things that I love most about Disney is that, I mean, it’s the studio of which I’m aware that will start from scratch to make something better, even they’re years into the process which happened with this one, but reading the script, I was really, I was really taken with, of course, not only the scenes, but the fact that, like every great Disney film, it could make me laugh. It could make me cry at the same points every time I read it. I related very much to the character. I understand why I was cast. I was typecast a bit and I’m proud of it. There was no question that I was going to take it the second I knew that it existed.
What did you think when you first saw Judy Hopps with your voice?
Oh, it was a dream. I didn’t see anything, honestly, I didn’t see an entire scene until I saw what became the, the first trailer. The sloth DMV scene in its like, edited trailer form at D23, so I had saw it while standing backstage with a monitor at the same time that all of the thousands of fans did. Before that, I had seen, I guess they’re called animatics and I had seen all of the artwork, artwork that they had put up for me as reference. They would always decorate the sound booth in artwork which was incredibly inspiring and anything new would go up for me to see.
I was really blown away. I still can’t get over it. I do thank goodness, when I’m watching the movie, forget that it is me and I can get completely lost in it which is something that I can’t, unfortunately do when I’m watching something live action because when I’m watching something live action, I’m just going, I need to lose five pounds and I hate the way I said that line. I would say use a different take and, this was a completely different experience. I was swept up in the story, but sometimes I am brought back into it by realizing that,vJudy has raised her eyebrows in a way that I raise my eyebrows or does something with her hands that I suddenly finds very familiar, but I only just saw the entire movie six weeks ago. It did blow my mind. I mean, obviously, I’m a bit quick to tears, but I start crying the second the castle comes up and says Disney.
Has your son seen the movie and does he recognize your voice?
He hasn’t seen it and we only recently decided that we’re not going to let him see it for a long time, but not for reasons that we was expected of ourselves. We kept him from all entertainment, all technology based entertainment until this point. He’s about to turn two. He just had the flu and we let him watch Winnie the Pooh for the first time. Up until this point, he’s been a reader. He’s extremely physically active. He’s a player and we really encouraged him to let that be his forms of entertainment.
I thought that we were going to let him see Zootopia. Then we saw Zootopia and it’s almost out of our love for it that we’re going to keep animated things of which we are a part as parents, away from them because we realized, Oliver thinks that Winnie the Pooh is real and we would never want to shatter the illusion that he’s not and not only does he think that the animated Winnie the Pooh is real, but he, of course, because he’s almost two, thinks that the Winnie the Pooh that he met at Disneyland last month is the same exact Winnie the Pooh that was onscreen when he had the flu. I don’t want to shatter any of his illusions and I’m just terrified that he would see Zootopia and he’s a smart kid, and he would say, that sounds an awful lot like Mommy and so I’m going to keep that from him as long as, as possible. I want to push him to be imaginative.
Have you overcome any stereotypes in your life the way the two characters have in the movie?
I think becoming an actress in the way that I’ve become an actress was overcoming other perceptions because I am proud of the fact that I am not some like stereotypical, classic package of a Hollywood actress. I was certainly early on I would never be a leading lady and I thought that was ridiculous because there are all kinds of ladies and all stories need to be told, so why wouldn’t my kind of lady, lead a film at some point? I think that maybe just yeah, being an actress in general, takes exceptionally thick skin in that we’re rejected on a daily basis for a number of reasons and I think I’ve always been pretty good at letting it all roll of my back.
As a mom, what would you like kids to take away from the film?
Oh, from the character. I mean, there’s so many incredible themes in this movie. The one that I gravitate towards the most because it’s the one my character articulated was that anyone can be anything and I absolutely believe that. I believe that’s in keeping with the answer, yeah, to the question about defying other peoples’ expectations and in stereotyping me and how I am received. I do believe anyone can be anything. I believe that there are infinite amounts of opportunities for everyone. I’ve never understood this idea that there’s so many pieces of the pie. Like, if, actresses are fellow actress haters and are extremely competitive and I mean, not any more so than men. I’m just using actresses because I’m an actress, but I’m sure it’s the same in many different fields, but I’ve always felt like why aren’t there, why can’t we just look at it as there’s an infinite number of pies? There’s enough to go around and there’s enough for everyone to carve their niche in life and so that’s the thing that I would hope on the surface that my, I know I hope my kids take away from seeing Zootopia.
Then there are some incredible underlying and very timely and timeless themes, just about the human condition and the state of our world that I think are powerful. It may take a little more maturity and social interaction for them to understand them, but I can’t wait for my kids to be old enough to really, to really talk about it.
Has becoming a parent affected what kind of roles you take on?
Absolutely, I would say, like nesting and wanting to become a parent affected the roles I wanted to start taking. I never desperately wanted to have children. It wasn’t something that I really consciously thought about and I hit thirty and suddenly realized this is something that is not just something that I want, it is going to be unacceptable for me to go through life, for me, without children.
This is something that I must have for myself and I think it was doing that that made me look at different roles. Like a job I was on at the time which was Big Love and I was set with Big Love, but my kids, any future kids would not be able to watch that for a very long time. I wouldn’t even let like my boyfriends at the time watch Big Love. And I hadn’t really made much of anything that a kid of mine would be able to see at a young age and so I know that that affected my decision to take Once Upon a Time which then led to like Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast with Disney Home Movie and my first, like, real experience doing an extensive amount of voice work for animation. Then like, Zootopia was a no brainer, but it definitely changed the kind of entertainment that I want to do and that’s not to say that I don’t want to like, go back because I do want to explore darker things again. But I love that I have this now as part of my career world.
What qualities do you find in yourself that you see in Judy Hopps?
We’re both fiercely optimistic. We’re both idealistic. I think we’re both a bit self-righteous which can then get into the flawed territory which I also love. I don’t like playing characters who don’t have some flaws and I think that that our flaws are similar. I love that she, which is something that I hadn’t really, honestly, articulate for myself ever until playing Judy, I love that she believes that before one can of course, make the world a better place, one has to make one’s self better. There’s nothing more responsible than that. I would love to be that responsible. I also wish I were as fearless as she is because I’m a tryer like she is, but I try things and when I try things, I’m often secretly a bit scared and I feel like she didn’t get the scared gene somehow.
ZOOTOPIA will be out 3/4/16
*I was invited by Disney to be part of a press trip covering Zootopia to share my experience and opinions with my readers. All opinions are my own.
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