LAIKA Animation Studios upcoming, Kubo and the Two Strings, hits theaters August 19th, and will mark the 4th feature film released by the Portland based studio. The 3-D stop motion animation film has a A+ caliber voice cast led by Game of Thrones’ Art Parkinson as ‘Kubo’, a young boy on a coming of age adventure guided by ‘Monkey’ (Charlize Theron) and ‘Beetle’ (Matthew McConaughey). Together they propel him to find his place in the world and escape the hands of his grandfather, ‘The Moon King’ (Ralph Fiennes) and his aunts, known as “the Sisters” (Rooney Mara). The stunning cinematography, and animation not only create a compelling story, but it takes you on a journey in storytelling and identity.
Recently, the cast sat down to talk about seeing the film for the first time, their first exposure to animation and revealed who their real life mentors were.
Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron and Art Parkinson on seeing “Kubo” for the first time after lending their voices to the characters
Matthew McConaughey: I got to watch it with my wife and two eldest children. My wife said she had cried about nine times. The kids had tough questions afterwards. They enjoyed the ride but they came and asked. They were scared at the right time, they saw someone overcome their fears, and they got to equate that to things in their own life. As an adult we all quite enjoyed it, the kids enjoyed it. It’s fully realized.
Charlize Theron: We as actors step in and embody (these characters) in broad strokes and, with this, it’s with such a fine brush. I’m in complete awe of what that is and, of course, the story, to me, is incredibly moving…really layered and conflicting. It covers a lot of things we are sometimes scared to, kind of, address with children. It think it’s so true what LAIKA stands for, to tell and teach children.
Art Parkinson: I thought it was really beautiful. Something that stood out to me was the relationship that Kubo had with his mother. He, sort of, brought characters to life with his music and with his orgami, so I like to think that I bring characters to life with what I do. It was cool to see and have something in common with the character.
Mentors are a huge part of the film, Art Parkinson and Charlize Theron share who in their lives were their most influential teachers growing up.
Art Parkinson: A very special mentor to me is my mother. She brought me up and there was no one else really to teach me how to handle things. My mom was a very special mentor in every aspect of life whether it be sports or school or acting. She’s always very supportive. I think the maternal instincts of a character like Monkey, I can relate that to my mother. I also have a mentor in my father. He’s a little bit more fun like Matthew’s character beetle.
Charlize Theron: I feel fortunate to have people come into my life in very different ways and from different places. Some much younger, some much older. My life has been consistently blessed withe people who have been great teachers to me. If I had to think of just one, I would have to join Art in the fact that my mom was a consistent mentor through my entire life. I was really lucky to have a parent who was a great teacher, and still is a great teacher. I’m forty and I really thought that was gonna end at some point, and there’s always some words of wisdom, and I’m just like ‘Mom! Wow, you just don’t stop.’
Charlize and Matthew on what their first exposure to animated films were and what they recalled from their childhoods:
Charlize Theron: The first thing I can really think of is ‘Looney Tunes’. Television only really came to South Africa in ’75-’76, and we also really only had, like, two hours a night of it. So it was very special when it would come around. When I was ten or eleven we got a VCR, and that was a game changer for me. I remember getting the little beta tapes of ‘Looney Tunes’– God, I’m so old! BETA! YEAH! They were really short, only like, eight minutes runs. As a kid, I could watch them over and over and over again, and not get bored, and laugh at the same jokes, and discover something new at the same time. Ironically, they still play them on the collective child channels on cable, and every time I see them, and my child is looking for something to watch, I pop it on. I want to give them a little bit of what I had. He loves it.
Matthew McConaughey: Before Beta, I would get up, because we didn’t have remotes, turn the three channels on the TV with the ears out: CBS, NBC and ABC. I didn’t watch much media growing up, but I do remember first time seeing ‘Land of the Lost’ on Saturday morning. That world, with the opening credits, with the waterfall, and world they ended up in –that opened me up quite a bit. The other one would be ‘The Incredible Hulk’… Lou Ferigno. You knew he was gonna be get big and green twice in the hour. At 7:22 and about 7:41 pm. It was gonna happen twice. There was an oxygen tank around which usually there magically happened to be. He was gonna throw it in slo-mo, and it was gonna be awesome.
Matthew McConaughey on the themes in the film and how he talked to his kids about the very intense and real coming of age experiences in the movie.
Matthew McConaughey: I’ve had a lot of talks with my kids about courage and facing your fears along the way. This is one of the themes in the story. You’ve got to fight and have a lot of courage to write the thrird act of your story. You get your happy ending, it may not be exactly what you thought it was gonna be but if you get to the truth of it that’s a lot happier than not finishing the story at all. Sometimes act 2 is a son of a gun but that’s cause you gotta fight for your third act.