Interview with Julie Bowen of Disney’s PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE

fire and rescue


Q&A with Julie Bowen, voice of Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue, in theaters July 18, 2014.

What is “Planes: Fire & Rescue” about?

“Planes: Fire & Rescue” picks up after Dusty Crophopper has become a big racer. But now he’s injured and he has to find another way to use his many talents—so he decides to become a firefighter.

It’s really about second chances. Dusty’s very much like an athlete who has to reinvent himself and find out what he can do after reaching his dreams. I hope that kids will watch and just enjoy what’s really a fun family movie—but then the bigger message will sink in later. It’s not about winning a prize in the end. It’s about doing good for the community.

How does Dusty reach new heights in this film?

“Disney’s Planes” was a hit because we watched him follow a dream. This time, he’s like an athlete who’s coming off the field now, and he has to reinvent himself for act two of his life and make it meaningful. That’s challenging and scary. There’s a real sense of adventure in the movie, too. Dusty has to up his game because this isn’t just about vanity or going fast; it’s about saving lives.

Who’s Dipper?

She’s an air tanker who is part of the air attack team. Dipper’s a little crazy or maybe not quite crazy—very hopeful, we like to say. She was written a little kooky, but luckily [director] Bobs [Gannaway] and everybody else involved in the production encouraged me to be as weird as I wanted to be with her. They’d say, ‘Here’s the line we wrote—now go nuts.’ They let me go all kinds of nuts because she’s odd—in a good way—and tries to use her feminine wiles on Dusty. She’s a very enthusiastic fan of Dusty. She recognizes him right away when he joins the fire and rescue squad. She’s very warm and welcoming—maybe a little too welcoming.

Do you see yourself in Dipper?

I gave Dipper certain sounds and mannerisms I think. And it turns out I have a lazy jaw and I mush my words around a little. I had to make that my strength—I made my nervous energy and my ability to talk very quickly into part of the character. [Director] Bobs [Gannaway] really encouraged me to make a lot of quick turns and changes from talking fast to suddenly going slow. And that just worked.

What do your kids think of the role?

They were like, “You’re gonna be a plane?” They are so excited and honestly if my kid get a chance to love something that I do for my job, that’s great.

I have three boys, I have no girls, yet I grew up with three girls, no boys. So I grew up on a lot of the princess movies: Ask me anything about “Cinderella” and I can tell you every single word of those movies. So to participate in “Planes: Fire & Rescue” is so exciting for me. I get to be part of their world. They’d love to immerse themselves in this world.

Can you describe the look of the movie?

What I think is really cool is that it doesn’t have a super bright-saturated-primary color feeling. There’s atmosphere—elements are slightly faded or muted, giving it a vintage feeling. It all adds up to being timeless. It’s not a time or place in the future or the past.

What are your thoughts on the animation process?

It was a little intimidating at first. The first time I came in to record, they showed me all the artwork they had done up to that point—rough sketches, drawings, paintings of the world. It’s a little scary when you realize the amount of work and time it takes to create an animated movie. I babble in a dark room and then somebody has to make a plane with a personality—with life in her eyes and my voice coming out of her mouth. It’s an insane amount of labor and attention to detail.

Why should people see this movie?

There’s a lot of action and it is really exciting. As a mom of three little boys, I look at this movie through their eyes—it’s so detailed, it’s so incredible and it’s so much more advanced than some of the films that I grew up watching.

I think that there’s always heart in a Disney movie. There’s always something that the adults can watch alongside the kids and everybody can connect to. There’s humor and pathos and intelligence, but you don’t get hit over the head while it’s happening. It’s just fun.


Go back in Planes history with the original DVD available on Amazon:



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