Thanks again to Disney*Pixar for having me as a guest to the Red Carpet Premiere of Cars 3.
Much like the interview I shared last week, chatting with Nathan Fillion (Sterling), Larry the Cable Guy(Mater), Lea DeLaria (Miss Fritter) & Isiah Whitlock Jr (River Scott) was a blast. All four of them are so personable, interested in their fans and have a true love of what they do. I wish you could have been in the room with me, it was awesome.
We talked a lot about what it was like to work on the film, interacting with fans on social media, and the mentors that helped them get their start. No surprise, it was a fun, light hearted interview. What I’ve shared with you is just the tip of the iceberg – there were so many great stories!
When you were recording, did you do any improv, and if you did can you share of your lines that you did?
Larry: I remember when I first did it, my opening line that I ever did in Cars was “my name’s Mater, like Tomato, without the To,” and I went — of course, I remember, going, “Hey. My name’s Mater, just like To-mata, without the Ta!” – Larry the Cable Guy
Nathan: It’s so weird. Because when I improv, they always go, “That’s great, stick to the lines.”
Directed to Isiah Whitlock Jr: “I watched you do the Wire and your various different films. How did it feel to do something different?”
Isiah: You know, I was in the booth by myself, y’know, with my own imagination, and I found it quite liberating. Just laying down the voice, and everything like that. But I mean, to me, that’s kind of what keeps you going, you know, is that you’re not always playing the same thing, over and over and over again.
Nathan, I read something in a different interview where you’d described Sterling as “charming.” He kind of felt a little slimy to me, so what part was he charming?
Nathan: Charming people are not so much interesting as they are interested. They’re saying, “Hey. You are great. You are wonderful. You are the best.” But, in this case, as a businessman first, I think he puts Lightning McQueen into a “you are the best, you are the greatest, but I do have an ulterior motive”
When Nathan Fillion tells us about why he worked on Cars 3…
Nathan: What called me to this is an opportunity to work with Pixar. I’m not going to lie to you guys. I’ve been to the Pixar facility twice. I’ve seen every Pixar movie. I’ve seen the Pixar documentary four times. I am into Pixar. Nothing happens in a Pixar movie by accident. They tell the story, one pixel at a time. It’s very, very careful filmmaking, and it’s very methodically planned out, and you — to be a part of it, you know you’re going to be a part of a story well told, and it’s going to be beautiful, and it’s going to last.
It’s going to be a story that lasts. So, over and above anything else, I will do anything for Pixar. And, point of fact, I actually did some janitorial work for them two weeks ago. I’m not picky.
Do you have a favorite part, either your character, or anything in the film, that is your favorite?
Isiah: I found it very emotional. I found myself tearing up a little bit, you know, and kept saying, “Okay. Think about something else. Think about something else.” Don’t start crying, you know. But you know, when they deal with change and aging and things like that and moving on, you know… (fake crying) “That’s like my career!”
There’s such a mentor, mentee relationship in the movie. Who are some of your mentors, either professionally or personally?
Nathan: Bob Woods, who played my uncle on One Life to Live. I wouldn’t be — I wouldn’t have moved to Los Angeles without his sage advice.
Isiah: I had a mentor in college, and he was not — he had seen me in a play in college, and he was kind of like this nutty, crazy professor that everybody kind of stayed away from, but this guy said, he pulled me aside and he says, “look, you know, I saw you in a play last night.” …… The one thing he told me, he says, “If you really want to be a great actor, you’ve got to start studying psychology. You’ve got to know the human condition. You’ve got to know how people tick, and how you can figure out all of these characters,” and so I thought, Okay, I’m gonna try that. And I studied psychology for about two years. And I just play a bunch of characters who’ve got problems. [LAUGHS] But it was some of the best advice I had ever gotten. And when people talk about mentorship, I always think about this one, this guy, because it’s — I really did sort of learn about the human condition, and how — what makes people do what they do, and how they believe that, you know, they’re right in what they do.
So, that was some of the best advice I’d ever gotten in my life.
Larry: Mine would’ve been Jeff Foxworthy. I have known Foxworthy for 30 years, and he really gave me awesome advice about the business, and how to be kind to people, and be kind to your fans, and so he would’ve been my mentor.
At this point in the interview, Lea DeLaria joins us, flying in from New York the night before. Her excuse? Orange is the New Black.
“That’s the yin and yang of it, right there. Orange Is the New Black to Disney”
How has social media changed what you do?
Larry: Back in the day, when I was coming up if I could actually go online, and my favorite baseball players or my favorite actors would actually send me a response, I would be a fan for life. And I think that’s the cool thing about social media, and I always try to stay engaged, as much as I can.
Nathan: Engagement is a fantastic word. Because it’s a way to engage with your fan base, that doesn’t revolve around work or any publicity due. It’s stuff that you’re entirely in control of, so you can personalize it as you wish. You can share, you can be personal with it, you can share your private things, or you’re entirely in control. But it is one-on-one.
Lea: I reach out a lot on Instagram, I post every day, I try to respond. Especially, when they direct-message you, so only you can read it and no one else on Instagram. Politically for me, as an openly gay activist, I get a lot of people that DM me about problems, you know. Which I take very seriously.
Can you share how you became involved in the project?
Lea: why would I want to be Miss Fritter? Have we seen her? She’s awesome. I mean, come on. Her stop sign is a buzz saw. She’s terrific.
I wanted to see if you guys had any input on your characters, how they looked, the colors, or anything like that.
Nathan: They eyes are dead on. [LAUGHS].
Lea: Miss Fritter, if she was here, I would say, she captures my essence. Completely.
Isiah: I didn’t have any input. And because of that everybody says, “Oh, it looks like you,” and I’m like, “Well, I didn’t design that, and, you know…” but it’s loveable.
Larry: I had no input. I had — my teeth looked just like Mater’s, until Pixar made me enough money to make veneers. I was — this was the original inspiration. (Larry held up a diecast toy Mater)