(Image credit: Netflix)
The song I Choose accompanied the end credits of The Willoughbys, as tears started welling up in our eyes. And we got even more emotional when we got to speak to the cast. Keep reading to learn what three amazingly talented actors had to share about the newest Netflix animation film.
Directed by Chris Pearn, The Willoughbys is based on the book of the same name by Lois Lowry. It went down an original route, gracefully dodging hoops of cliché plot twists, to serve up a wholesome portrayal of family bonds in what would be a rather unfamiliar frame. Blood is thicker than water, or is it not?
The plot follows a mother (Tony Award winner, Jane Krakowski) and father (also Tony Award winner, Martin Short), who are not, by any means, your ordinary, loving parents. Their carelessness led them to name both of their youngest twins, Barnaby. While their middle child, Jane (Grammy award-winning singer, Alessia Cara) sings without being heard, and their oldest, Tim (three-time Emmy Award nominee, Will Forte) sleeps in the coal room. We immediately felt grateful for our all-loving, often strict, parents, who stand in sharp contrast with the mean adult Willoughbys.
“For me, I had some really checked-out parents growing up, so it was really easy for me to act as the feeling uncared for and stuff like that,” joked Forte in an exclusive interview with Cairo 360. “Just kidding! I had wonderful parents, so this was true acting for me,” he added.
We were completely hooked by the Willoughby children’s antics that had them getting rid of their parents with a simple vacation brochure. We must give credit to Kyle McQueen for texturing the animation to look lively and realistic – almost like stop-motion. After the parents escape to tour the world, Nanny Linda (two-time Emmy Award nominee, Maya Rudolph) takes over to redefine the true meaning of family, with care, empathy, and love.
We were torn by how selfish the parents were throughout the film, but a bit of comic relief was provided by the narrator; a cat! Voiced by the wonderfully hilarious Ricky Gervais, the cat saved the day by stepping in (despite it being the narrator’s job to be an onlooker) to return Nanny back to the kids after a wave of self-doubt led her to run away.
“I think no matter what, [Nanny] would find a way to go back for the kids,” Rudolph exclusively shared with Cairo 360. “Absolutely! She was so in love with these kids that I think she would have figured it out eventually. I think her heart is so genuine, and she has such a deep connection with the kids, that it might have taken time, but she would’ve figured it out”. As a mother of four, Rudolph was able to connect with the children quite easily. “I guess the part about loving your kids is probably the thing I used the most.”
Watch our interview with Will Forte and Maya Rudolph below:
We also chatted over the phone with Cara, whose debut role in acting as Jane Willoughby was undoubtedly helped by her musical background. Cara won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 2018, and she climbed to the top of the charts with her hit songs Here, Scars to Your Beautiful, and Stay.
“It definitely helped with the role because [Jane] is a very musical girl, and she has a huge passion for music. I also got to work on the songs at the end of the movie, so my writing came in handy as well,” said Cara about her featured tearjerker of a song, I Choose. “I’m a very passionate and sensitive person, and [Jane] represents the more vulnerable side of me.”
Cara is 23 years old, and her character is 12, so maintaining that younger tone of voice was the biggest challenge throughout the three years of recording it took to produce The Willoughbys. Most importantly, what is the true meaning of family to Cara?
“It has nothing to do with blood relatives,” she replied. “But more so about people that you love unconditionally no matter what, and people whose flaws you see and are aware of and still choose to love,” she said. “That, to me, is what family is.”
As one of the youngest members of the cast, Cara advises parents across the world to listen, be there, and be understanding. Especially during the tough times we face today, family comes first in whatever shape or form it takes.
You can stream The Willoughbys now on Netflix here.