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Mae Whitman: On Voice Over Acting, Fairies, and Really Good Books...

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Mae Whitman

Mae Whitman

Photo © Disney

We caught up with the lovely and talented Mae Whitman just before the release of the fourth Tinker Bell movie, Secret of the Wings, hit store shelves. Mae has been the voice of Tinker Bell since the first movie, and she has also voiced other characters kids would recognize, like Katara from the Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Here is what Mae had to say about fairies, seasons, voice over acting, and more:

How did you get the role of Tinker Bell?

I went in for an audition for something, and I didn’t even know what it was, but my voice over agent told me it was really important. So I was excited, and I just gave it my best shot, and they ended up liking it. So I got really lucky.

How has Tinker Bell changed and grown as a character over the course of the 4 movies?

That’s one thing that I’ve always respected about these movies, is how much growth they allow for as far as her character and who she is as a person. Every single movie, I feel like they tackle a really deep issue, and there’s an arc, and she comes out of it a little bit of a better person. So, that’s something I think is really important to keep going, is that always and ever growing and learning process...because that’s exactly how life is too.

What is your favorite scene from Secret of the Wings?

I think probably one of the coolest scenes -- there’s two -- one I really like, is when they’re doing all of the icy adventures together. I think that’s so cool, because you get to really explore the ice world, which usually you don’t get to see. So it's really fun to see the fairies doing all kinds of different stuff.

I also really love the sentimentality of the scene where they [Tinker Bell and Periwinkle] first meet. There's something so delicate and sensitive about them kind of exploring each other, and each other's houses, and what their worlds are like -- kind of tentatively at first, and then getting more and more excited as they discover that they're quite similar.

Each of the first four Fairies movies are set in a different season, do you have a favorite time of year yourself?

I think my favorite season would be autumn, or fall. I think there’s something magical about coming out of summer and being so hot, and then that breeze starts to kick in and all the trees start to change. It’s such a period of kind of melancholy growth, and I’ve always related to that time period.

So then is Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure your favorite Tinker Bell movie?

I think it might have to be Lost Treasure, just because that whole adventure, and exploring all those worlds, and seeing the beach, and walking through the forest. And, her little outfit is so autumnal and foresty, and her boots... I get so lost in that world, that I think that must be my favorite.

If you were a fairy, what talent would you be?

I’ve always related a lot to water. I really love swimming, and I love being around the water and on the water. I feel a really deep connection with water. So, I’d probably say water.

I definitely tinker things, I definitely love light, I definitely love animals, I mean, there’s so much that I could be. But, I think that’s one thing that’s really cool, is they have all these different pieces that you’d want to be all of them. You know, there’s no fairy that you’re like, well, I don’t really care about plants. You know, everybody loves flowers, so it’s kind of an awesome thing.

You've done so many voice over roles, do you ever find yourself talking like the characters in your every day life?

Oh yeah! I mean, you can’t imagine the stuff I get from my friends. Whenever I get excited about something and I’m like, "Oh wow, guys, let’s go there!" and they're like "Tinker Bell..."

It's funny, I think they’re different aspects of me. Like, when I’m being sassy, it sounds like April O'Neil from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And when I’m excited, it sounds like Tinker Bell. And when I’m being strong, it’s Katara, you know. So those are the kind of emotions that sort of trigger those voices for me.

What's the best part of voicing Tinker Bell?

There’s so much. I genuinely do feel that getting to work with the team of people that I get to work with on the movie -- like all the artists, the directors, everybody at Disney, all the voice over artists -- everybody is so incredible, and they’re so talented. And, getting to be involved with a John Lasseter project is just a real honor, because I feel like they’re revolutionizing the whole world of animation and making these movies that, you know, every movie they make is incredible, and you come away with something that’s really effective. And, I think that is really something so amazing to be a part of a team of people who are so forward thinking, and growing, and creative. It feels like something that is magical every day.

And getting to connect with people about Tinker Bell and what they take away from it... I meet people all the time, and they talk about how nice it is to have something that they love, and that they feel is teaching their kids good values, and teaching them to be respectful of their friends and of nature, and just embracing their own personalities. I just think it’s such a great message that we’re putting out there.

What is your favorite book and movie?

My favorite children's book would be When Sheep Cannot Sleep by a Japenese artist [Satoshi Kitamura]. It's a beautiful story, and it's kind of dark and done with these interesting almost papery drawings. And, he kind of wanders off alone -- he has some alone time -- and reflects on all of his family and friends, and it's just beautiful. It stuck with me in such a powerful way, that I actually got the main character tattooed. I have a really small tattoo of the little sheep who couldn't sleep. That one really stayed with me.

And for slightly older kids, the one that I reread again recently and just loved so much was A Wrinkle in Time. For me, that book started me on my path of developing my spirituality, and my ideas on what's important, and being yourself, and avoiding getting sucked into somebody else's idea of what's right for you. And, just thinking about the stars and the planets, and time and space, but in a way that's really accessible and beautiful to everyone.

And a favorite movie, there's so many movies that I love. One of my favorite movie trilogies in the whole universe is Toy Story I just can't get enough. Every time I see it, I learn something new.

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