Meeting Elijah Kelley, the voice of Sunny in the upcoming Touchstone Pictures “Strange Magic”, is like reuniting with the best friend you haven’t seen since college. He’s vibrant, fun, and truly enjoys life. In a way, you can see why he was cast as Sunny as they exhibit many of the same characteristics.
It was bright and early on that morning we headed to Skywalker Ranch to screen Strange Magic and interview George Lucas, Elijah Kelley and director Gary Rydstrom. Coffee was what we all were thinking about upon those first steps off the shuttle (or I was anyway). But then the magic of the Ranch took over, and as soon as we stepped in, there was Elijah! Huge smiles for all us bloggers….and hugs and selfies.
Suddenly, we were giddy as we left to screen the movie and he went to prep for the special concert just for us….
Obviously, the guy is talented and his character Sunny will make you all wish you had a a magical elf of your own. Read on to check out 5 little things with Elijah Kelley.
On what it was like to voice Sunny, his character in Strange Magic
Elijah Kelley: I’ve never done a voice-over before in my life, so it was a little bit of a challenge because he’s hyper and super into everything that he always does, so I thought that it was going to be so easy. I thought it was gonna be a piece of cake, but I would go in there and guarantee you, I would leave lightheaded and sweaty from all the running and everything. It was like P90X. Bringing it to life and understanding the world that Sunny lives in, and understanding that he’s kind of like the nucleus of trying to get everything together, and pulling everybody together, and trying to save the day, and messing up the day, it’s a lot like me.
On what other characteristics Elijah found similar to himself in Sunny
EK: Sunny doesn’t quit. I’ll tell you a bit of personal information.
Over the Christmas holidays both my laptops were stolen, hard drives were stolen, all of this stuff, and I had to do these police reports, and literally everything that I have worked on in 2014 had seemingly vanished. I had to sit down, and still myself. This is a quality about him. Once you understand that there’s a task at hand, you can’t stop until that task is finished. So throughout adversity, throughout trial, you have to keep going, and I think that’s something that Sunny carries.
On the difference between doing a voice for an animated feature, versus Hairspray and singing
EK: The difference between doing a voice-over in a movie and a real movie is you can literally look horrible [Laughter]. You can look like crap. You can just go in the studio and be the most disgusting looking person ever, but nobody will ever see you. But Hairspray, you’ve got to do hair and makeup. Red Tails; I wore a big, thick mustache for Red Tails, and that’s pretty much the difference.
The aesthetic of the work that goes into it. I really feel like voice-over is a bit more difficult because you’re creating a universe, and you’re reacting to a universe that you don’t get to see, and that’s really, really, really difficult.
On why he loves working with George Lucas
EK: I’m glad you asked that question because, I never really get to tell him, but George has surpassed I think what we are on Earth. He’s become an idea. It’s like every time I come here, I get so inspired because everything that we’re sitting on, everything that we drove up on was spawned from an idea. And when you have an idea, and when you have an idea that you’re convicted about, and you can change the world from that idea, you don’t stray away from it, and you dedicate your life to that idea.
Every time I’m around him [George Lucas], it reinvigorates the passion for art in me that it only takes one thing. It only takes one idea. It only takes one thought to pretty much change your universe, and that’s why I love working with him, because I’m constantly reminded of that. Thanks, George.
On his foundation and philathropy
EK: I have a foundation, the Elijah Kelley Foundation, and basically what we do is trying to be a liaison between underprivileged kids and their dreams in arts and entertainment. During the tenure that we’ve had the non-profit, I’ve given out four scholarships over the last five years with students from low-income housing that are going on to pursue careers in performing arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design to a very small, great art school in Georgia called Gordon College.
Strange Magic is rated PG and opens January 23.