Interview with Animation Great Tony Bancroft
As an 80s kid and 90s tween/teen, Tony Bancroft animated many of my childhood favorites. The Rescuers Down Under is one of my all-time favorite animated features! He's responsible for the animation of Pumba in The Lion King and Kronk in The Emperor's New Groove—two of the best sidekicks/characters ever!
I had the chance to have a one-on-one interview with Tony Bancroft for the new Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs, out on Digital, Blu-Ray, DVD, and on Demand. We had a few good laughs and even chatted about my love of his earlier works. Check out our review of Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs.
Body positivity and being comfortable in your own skin
I straight up asked about the controversy in 2017 regarding the marketing campaign and fat-shaming. With Chloë Grace Moretz as the voice of Snow White, I knew there had to be more to the movie and that was part of the reason I accepted the screener.
I wanted to hear more about the body positivity message of the movie and what it means for kids watching it? And then related to that, the choice for Moretz as the voice. How does that reinforce it?
TB: Gosh, that's all good stuff. It's a Korean company, there was marketing in English and there was a bad translation that happened on a poster, and it got blown out of proportion. I mean, when have we not seen in our society these days, things getting blown out of proportion? So people started thinking about the opposite of the movie, which was not true. The movie is about being positive about body image, and it displays that. Anybody that has seen the film, they know it's the opposite. But unfortunately, having to come out from underneath that, it seems like all the time.
The thing that really attracted me to the movie was that I have three daughters myself and it was, it was paramount in our family. That was one of our values, that we wanted to really center on with our girls, as they were being raised. It's about an understanding of it's it's who you are inside. And so we talked a lot about integrity and humility and things like that in our household, and not about body image and being the perfect look or anything like that.
So Chloë Grace Moretzthough, when we cast her, it was well before all, any of that kind of stuff, but that is one of her very important parts of what she stands for also in her social media accounts and stuff is about body positivity. So, I think it hurt her when the negative stuff came out early on. But thankfully she's been supportive and she understands that it wasn't the film. That was not what the film is about. She's read this script, obviously, and has done the voice. She's very, very into what the movie actually is, and doesn't want to talk about really any of the negativity.
It's definitely one of our platforms. And it's important to us, too.
What's it like to come into a project that's kind of already animated and all you're doing is kind of directing the voice talent and choosing the voices versus some of your other projects which were, working start to finish on the whole animation?
TB: Thankfully the voices are done very early in the process, so I was able to have meetings with the directors, and we talked a lot about story changes and things like that. So I was unofficially really kind of creatively involved on the story side, too, here and there, which was helpful for me, too, in the casting process, and then understanding deeper the relationships of the characters as they were developing.
So we go through a lot of different development that happens, even as we're recording the voices and the script is going through all these iterations and changes. So I have to be kind of involved in a lot of different ways, which is fun for me. There's part of me that was like, ‘Hey, I wish this was my film altogether that I was directing from scratch.' And I just wanted to get into the trenches of it all.
But it was also fun for me to kind of step back and see how somebody else would take this material and what they did visually with it. I was so impressed. I really loved the production design, the look of it, the character design, all of that. I'm really happy with it.
Can we talk about Patrick Warburton for just a minute?
TB: Can't wait.
We're huge fans of him in our house. My husband and I love “Rules of Engagement.” It's one of our favorites. It's just so funny. What drew you to cast him?
TB: I worked for him on Kronk on The Emperor's New Groove. I was the supervisor and animator of Kronk. I just loved Patrick. I love not only what he gives and how many waive for the party, but I love him as a person. And when the director was saying, ‘Oh, we're kicking around ideas for the Magic Mirror.'
I said, ‘I've got an idea, Patrick Warburton.' I said, ‘People will know his voice. They'll never have to see him. The character doesn't have to look like him, but he will connect and he'll make help.' I said, ‘You need more humor from that character.' Anyway, it comes across as kind of dark a lot of the times, and it is a different part for Patrick, but he adds such a warmth to that magic mirror. And I knew that.
Sam Claflin is perfect as Merlin. What made you choose him for the role?
TB: Well, I mean, he looked like him so, so attractive. I had like a little man-crush on him throughout the production. Right? He didn't jump out the very first time. It was actually our casting that gave that name to put Sam across to us. And we were like, ‘Hmm, I don't know.' And I started listening to his voice, turning off the picture a lot of times in the movies that he's been and just listening. And then I thought, ‘Oh, this is nice. Yeah. And he has this kind of really cool accent too.'
And I don't know. I just thought it felt like he was perfect after I really started reviewing it over and over again. And what threw into the park is that we record them in one weekend.
He was shooting a movie called Adrift. And he had to be right there in the Fiji islands for that movie that all took place on the ocean. And so we flew in, got him on a weekend that was supposed to be his weekend off after a long day of shooting. And he was so great. We recorded him right in his hotel room and he was just the best. And we got it all in one weekend. It was awesome.
This outrageous fairy tale spoof starts as Snow White steals a pair of red shoes that transform her into a
princess. Meanwhile, a witch’s curse turns seven brave princes into dwarfs, forcing them to seek out the
princess, hoping for a kiss to break their spell. Together, they must face Snow White’s wicked stepmother—who will stop at nothing to get her precious shoes back—and, along the way, learn that true beauty lies