The Good Dinosaur is Pixar’s latest feature film offering hitting theaters on Thanksgiving weekend. The story surrounds Arlo, a young dinosaur who befriends a wild human boy named Spot and together they learn what family really means. Following the success of Inside Out, Pixar has entered into a nice groove with The Good Dinosaur as the follow up.
Anna Paquin voices Ramsey, the toughest lady t-rex on The Good Dinosaur’s frontier who has chewed off her own tail because things got tough. She can take on her own brother and dispense sage advice at the same time.
Paquin sat down with us to talk feminism, speaking in a Southern dialect and why Ramsey is more than capable of standing on her own two gigantic feet, thank-you very much.
Have you had a chance to see The Good Dinosaur yet?
Anna Paquin: I got to see it, I think, about a week ago. I was doing some of the EPK [Electronic Press Kit] stuff and they were like, “Well, I guess you probably need to see the movie.” and I was like, “Yeah, I guess I do.” (laughs) ‘cause my husband and I have been in the UK - have been in Wales - for the past, like, six or seven months.
In The Good Dinosaur Ramsey is very much a Southern Girl and you’re from New Zealand, but have been doing Southern American accents since you first played Rogue.
Paquin: It kind of just keeps following me around. (laughs) But, also, as far as the, sort of, American thing, I had to learn how to do an American accent otherwise I wouldn’t work in this country and, then I came here and went to high school and it’s funny how being mocked … yeah, this has got to go.
What is it like voicing the toughest lady in The Good Dinosaur?
Paquin: It’s kind of what I always want to be and usually girls don’t get to be the badass lady. I mean, Sookie’s [True Blood] pretty badass, but she’s still girly, but she can take a shit kicking. You know what I mean? She wears her high heels like they’re combat boots.
I think that tough and strong is also incredibly feminine and I think that there’s a, sort of, misconception or feeling that that means you’re not feminine. I’m like, “Yeah, okay? Well, says you.”
I don’t know if you follow MMA at all, but there’s a woman named Rhonda Rousey … and she talks a lot about how people say, “Oh, if you’re strong that’s masculine.” and has some, kind of, amazing stuff to say about that actually. “No, it’s incredibly feminine to also be very strong and tough and be able to take care of myself.” and Ramsey’s that kind of girl. She’s not scared of anybody and why should she be? You know?
I like getting to do things on film - or at least voice on film - that I know little girls are gunna watch that will maybe make them think that girl don’t have to be the princess and I like that.
If you had any advice to give to Ramsey what would you tell her and do you think she would follow it?
Paquin: Oh, I think she’s fine just how she is. (laughs) I think she’s doing perfectly well, thank-you. I mean, check her out! [holds up Ramsey action figure]
Somebody brought these action figures into our first interview this morning and were like, “Do you want to keep them?” and I’m like, “Well, I’m not gunna give it back to you, so, yeah.”
You hadn’t received any of the merchandise previously?
Paquin: No, this just happened today and I’ve kind of been carrying her around because I think she’s really awesome and also I kind of have a hard time sitting still sometimes and it gives me something to play with. It’s like a little stress ball.
Are you excited for the young girls in your family, like your daughter, to see your performance in The Good Dinosaur?
Paquin: Yes, but they’re not old enough yet, but the good thing about these kind of movies and the stuff that Pixar does - I mean, obviously the stuff that Disney does - is that it’s timeless. You can experience them at any age and stage and usually get something different out of it than the first time you watched it as a little kid, but they all hold up and I think that’s a feat of genius as far as, sort of, bodies of work to be able to do that and, you know - not to say that the straight up Disney movies don’t do this - but, I feel like the PIxar movies are particularly tuned into the more complex emotional layers that the adults seeing the movie also actually [will] get something out of it and also I feel like sometimes films assume that kids are stupid.
I’m like, “They’re young, they’re not stupid.” and why - if you want them to be smart and thoughtful and interesting intelligent people - why would you feed them junk entertainmentwise. It’s like, if you give them interesting entertainment and expose them to interesting things that do make you think, even if it goes over their head at this point, why would you not want to put that in their line of sight when they’re little? Why would you want to give them something that was, kind of, dumbed down for kids like their idiots. I’m like, “Dude, she’s three. She’s not stupid.”
This is, pretty much, one of only two things I’ve ever done that my kids will be able to see.
Which is nice.
Was that something that was important to you - seeking out more projects that were family friendly?
Paquin: I mean, honestly, I didn’t do it intentionally, but it did, kind of, come to be at this period of time in my life and, to a certain extent, I do sometimes feel like creative opportunities find you at the right time. You know? Not that I wouldn’t have been interested in doing this prior to having a family, but that, I dunno, it matters more to me on more of a, like, practical level - what stuff you are exposing your children to. You know what I mean?
Much as I would love to somehow raise my kids in a cave and have them not grow up on gadgets and things, that’s just not the world we live in. It is a modern, entertainment-filled world and I think that, you know, as a parent, my way of navigating is making sure there are at least things they are exposed to that I think are of value and somehow will contribute to them, as opposed to detract, and also I’m pretty soap box-y about, you know, the whole feminist/good role model thing and there’s so few really interesting parts for women in general that - when you compare them to the male roles - I mean, the boys usually get to have the, like, physically action, sort of, aggressive, strong roles and girls usually get relegated to being the damsel in distress. Occasionally not, but, you know, that’s kind of the norm and I don’t want my girl to think that she has to be girly and can’t take care of herself. I want role models for girls that I think are representative of what I would want to have watched as a kid.
Are there any chance that you would be interested in voicing Rogue in an X-Men animated project?
Paquin: Honestly, the X-Men family has been part of my world for - if it continues to float in and out of my life in some capacity for years to come that’s great. If not, oh, well. I made some lifelong friends and I really don’t know what their plans are. There seems to be 800 different branch offs from it and everybody seems to know more about it than I do. Yeah, sure.
Who’s excited for Anna Paquin to bring some Rogue to The Good Dinosaur? We know it’s going to be a good time!