Jim Cummings is a fan favorite – known for his many voices as Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Darkwing Duck, Geppetto in Pinocchio, and Ray the Firefly from The Princess and the Frog, among many others. His talent as a voiceover actor began in 1986 and he took over Sterling Holloway’s role as Winnie the Pooh and Tigger after his passing. I had the opportunity to sit down with Jim Cummings at a beautiful “Friendsgiving” lunch in Los Angeles last week. Here’s my exclusive interview with Jim!
I was invited as media to cover this event. All opinions are my own.
Exclusive Jim Cummings Interview
Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden
I could not resist taking a photo under this gorgeous tree outside of the Botanic Garden. Once inside we had a few minutes to explore the grounds before making our way to the beautiful Pooh-inspired table filled with fall decor, lavender blooms, and an assortment of floral teacups and teapots.
I loved everything down to the last detail like placing a fall wreath around this wooden basket packed with fall leaves and decor. The tablescape was just stunning!
Around the corner was a neat surprise – the actual movie props from the Christopher Robin film! I took a peek in the basket atop the table surrounded by my favorite stuffed friends. Speaking of stuffed….Thanksgiving came early with this delicious assortment of food including turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and of course dessert!
Soon we were met by Pooh himself 😉 – Mr. Jim Cummings was surrounded by 25 beautiful ladies eager to hear all about his career as a voiceover actor! He complimented me on my shirt before we snapped this photo together.
Jim Cummings on voicing Winnie the Pooh and Tigger
Q: Was the process of recording different than it was for an animated picture?
“Yeah, it was. It was hard fitting into the costume. [LAUGHS] But I managed, obviously.” Adding, “The fact is I recorded the whole movie in one day.” We were very surprised to hear that! He added, “In this one we actually did a lot of looping to the big screen.” He explains that he recorded all of Pooh’s lines for Ewan and the other actors to play off of while on set. Later, he returned to the studio after several line changes and re-recorded until everything was as Disney wanted it. He then repeated that process for Tigger as well.
Q: You do so many voices, but it’s amazing talent. Do you ever mix them up?
Jim shared, “I’ve been Pooh since ‘87, you know, and Tigger since maybe ‘89, ‘90. We used to go back and forth. I just wanted to maintain a little more integrity.” Now he voices one character as a time and it’s just easier that way. Adding, “Tigger’s a little raspier. He’s got a little hoarse in there.”
Q: What’s your favorite quote for Pooh and Tigger?
“Oh, gosh. I have so many,” Jim said. “You know, a lot of people will have me write down ‘you’re stronger than you seem, braver than you believe.'”
On playing the role of Pooh and Tigger for the last 30 years, Jim mentioned, there was a 20-year gap from the first film in 66-67’ until 1987 or so, and how the characters were kind of new again. And now with the release of Christopher Robin who’s gone from a curious young boy to a man, he mentioned: “it’s kinda like a pipeline to your childhood almost no matter how old you are.”
Throughout the interview, Jim slipped into a few of his favorite characters, offering us a live sampling of his many talents!
Q: When did you first know that you could do voices?
He shared, “I started off as a really annoying child. [LAUGHS] So, it was probably very early on. I was doing dolphin noises….so I was always that kid. I enjoyed being in plays.”
When asked which character he relates the most to, Jim said, “Probably Tigger. Darkwing Duck maybe.” Adding, “Ray from Princess and the Frog is one of my favorites of all-time.”
Q: What advice do you have for young voice actors who don’t live in LA?
Jim said, “I always say if you do a perfect impression of somebody everybody knows. That’s good. Hold on to that you never know when you could use it. And if you do a perfect impression of your mailman or a librarian or something that nobody knows, that’s a new character.” He also shared that he read to his daughters a lot and would get into character while reading, which only benefited him.
We had such a great time visiting the Botanic Garden and sitting down with Jim in what felt like the set of a Winnie the Pooh film. I may have tried to squeeze through the door to the city to find Christopher Robin too! 😉
“Any day spent with you is my favorite day.” – Pooh
Christopher Robin Blu-ray and DVD will be available everywhere November 6th!
Jim mentioned this about the Christopher Robin film: “I think it’s just beautiful. It’s perfect timing because the world can catch up with us and steal our magic and that childhood sense of wonder. It’s really easy to forget the truly important things in the world when you’re doing the 9 to 5 and bringing home the paycheck. Next thing you know, you’re out there in the world and you don’t stop and smell the roses. So, Pooh makes sure that Christopher gets back to what’s important in the world. I think we can all use some of that.”