When Pixar set its latest movie in the evergreen tree-covered hills of Scotland, the animation studio recruited several Scottish actors to flesh out the cast for its story of defiant princess Merida. Kelly MacDonald, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, and Billy Connolly were among the actors who got to use their natural Scottish brogue for their voice performances in Brave, which opened in theaters in June.
In anticipation of the movie’s DVD release this week, EW talked with Billy Connolly, the voice of Merida’s massive but sweet father, King Fergus. The actor/comedian is known both for his work in such kid-friendly fare as Pocahontas and Muppet Treasure Island and for roles in movies like Mrs. Brown and The Last Samurai. Read on to learn about how Connolly’s Scottish roots contributed to the movie, what unconventional trick he uses in the recording studio, and what it’s like for his kids and grandchildren to see him or hear his voice on screen.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You had done plenty of voice acting for animated films before Brave, but this was your first Pixar movie. Was stepping into a world of such a revered animation studio what you expected?
BILLY CONNOLLY: Oh, they were brilliant. They were absolutely brilliant. Animation people are very, very nice. They don’t have the big-shot thing that some feature filmmakers have. They’re much more artistically driven.
And I was amazed at how thoroughly they had researched this stuff – the people who wrote it in the first place had been up at my house in Scotland because there’s an annual parade called Lonach. There’s a pipe band with 163 players and they carry axes and spears and things, and they march up your driveway and make speeches and all that kind of stuff. Well, they’d been there! When I met them to talk about the movie, they showed me all the pictures, and they’d been outside my door, filming the pipe band. READ FULL STORY