I was invited as press to cover the #ZootopiaEvent. All opinions are my own.
Jason Bateman was in Orlando last week! It seemed only fitting to have the Zootopia cast visit the local theme parks, including Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom for coverage of their latest film. While Ginnifer Goodwin voices the optimistic Judy Hopps in the film, she is very close to her due date and couldn’t make the flight out. Thanks to technology, we were to speak with her for a few minutes via webcam. Our group of local bloggers also had the pleasure of sitting down with Jason to talk about his voice role as Nick Wilde in the movie.
The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together—a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But when rookie Officer Judy Hopps arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde, to solve the mystery. Shakira voices a gazelle and performs a song for the film as well.
Exclusive Jason Bateman Interview
Jason quickly walks into the room and greets the ten of us seated at the table. His demeanor is calm and collected. As we begin to ask him questions pertaining to the film, he runs his hands through his tousled hair. It’s obvious that he was destined to play the role of Nick Wilde with his laid back attitude and dry sense of humor. As we sit across the table from him, we can’t help but notice the body language and facial expressions that the Zootopia artists weaved into his character.
When asked about the resemblance, Jason mentions that he picked up on it a little in Ginnifer’s character, Judy Hopps, and JK Simmons as the Lion. “And then I was like, well, wait a second…you should take a look at yours. They were very subtle with it. It’s kinda neat.”
We also asked him what it’s like being part of a movie that he can actually watch with his kids. Jason shares, “It’s good just for pride, because they think I’m kinda cool that I’m in a movie with a Disney logo in front of it. That means something good’s coming in their mind.”
Regarding the sensitive topics in the film, Jason’s answer is spot on – “As far as parental stuff, it’s helpful to have this tool of the characters that are talking about kind of heavy issues at times. If the issue starts to resonate with them, or they want to kinda talk about bullying, or racism…bigotry and xenophobia and fear mongering, and all of that stuff. Some of those things it’s gonna take a little bit more time for the… nine year old to kinda get with. But it’s nice that I can reference it.”
We also asked: Your character was really condescending to Judy at times. How did you get into character for that? Jason laughs and says, “Did I tap into my thoughts about women? No. What they’re doing, obviously is setting Nick up to give him an enough of a satisfying starting point to appreciate the growth that he goes through.” Also adding if there were a continuation of the story and maybe Judy and Nick wind up as a couple, “what animal would they create? A fox and a bunny would be funny! [LAUGHTER] Thanks, guys. See what I did there…”
When asked about his favorite scene from Zootopia, Jason shares, “[I’m] just as a fan of the artistry…of the animation that they do at Disney. The part where we go into that scary building with the waterfall that’s at night. It just looks beautiful to me. And when the wolves start howling, to me that looks like a Fincher film. I think it’s gorgeous.”
Judy Hopps has a tagline “everyone can be anything” that’s evident in the film. When asked what tagline his character should have, Jason said, “boy that’s a tricky one…” adding, “he’d probably say don’t let ‘em catch ya.”
Our final question for Jason was what message he hopes the movie brings to kids. Jason shares, “I would say that…[his character Nick] has a bit of a defeatist attitude at the beginning. He’s really cynical and sort of mocks Judy for her optimism, and her enthusiasm. It’s a very defensive kinda and luckily Judy does come into his life, and shows him that it’s okay to let people know that there’s something different than what is on the surface of you. That has relevance emotionally, but also clearly racially. Religiously, there’s all kinds of things where people make judgments on and perceptions very quickly on who they think you are. But what about what’s on the inside? [Judy Hopps] has no vanity at all. She has no idea how she comes across. It’s all inside out with her and I think that’s probably [something] you’re never too young to learn.”
Jason Bateman was so charismatic and friendly in person. We really appreciate him taking time out of his busy schedule to chat with us about the film.
Don’t forget Zootopia opens in theaters everywhere 3/4/2016! Check out the latest movie trailer here.