Walt Disney Animation always blows me away with their artistry, creativity and imagination! Their latest full-length animation Strange World embraces the idea of being weird, or odd in a way that encourages us to step out of our comfort zone and embrace the beauty in differences. But beyond the complexities of this strange world is the story of family and trust.
Thatsitla attended an early press day where filmmakers Director Don Hall, Co-director and writer Qui Nguyen shared the inspiration behind the animation and introduced the characters and cast to the press.
The directors have a personal connection to this story. Both are dads who have a strong desire to leave their children a better world. The driving inspiration of this film is their kids. This project was started in 2018 and is a labor of love. The big important questions driving this film are- How do we become better ancestors? How do we pay attention to the general impacts of the decisions we make? As storytellers, Hall and Nguyen felt they had an opportunity to tell a story about our relationship with the planet.
This story is told through one family, the Clades. Strange World is the story of three generations of one family within whom Co-directors Hall and Nguyen explored and examined the complications and connections that arise between fathers and sons, parents and children. Essentially, Strange World is a story about family- including their three-legged dog, and some unique creatures that populate this new strange world. Plus, Splat, a little blue blob who will steal your heart away.
Let’s meet the Clades! Nguyen starts off by sharing who voices the leading man, “The talented and charming Jake Gyllenhaal voices Searcher Clay. He was a complete dork with super passion, enthusiasm and an incredible collaborator on this film”. Nguyen continues, “Playing the role of Searchers’ father Jaeger Clae, is the one and only Dennis Quaid. He’s simply one of the funniest guys that we’ve worked with. And he’s having a blast playing this larger-than-life character.”
Hall continues, “The third generation in the Clade Family, Searcher’s 16-year-old son Ethan who is voiced by the incredible young comedian and actor, Joe Buceo. Joe has been in a lot of cool indie movies and is somebody who is definitely on the rise. Rounding out the clay family is Meridian Clade, Searcher’s pilot wife and the glue that keeps the family together, being voiced by the fabulous, fantastic Gabrielle Union.”
“Finally, we have Callisto Mal voiced by the amazing Lucy Liu, one time explorer who is now the head of Avalonia. And as such, the one who organizes the team that descends into a strange world. Nyguen shares, “It’s an incredible cast that we’ve assembled. But there are two non-speaking roles who are also part of the story.”
We can’t forget about the family dog, Legend. Hall describes him as “a sweet, silly boy who just wants to love everyone and everything and has absolutely no survival instincts whatsoever.”
Story artist Bernie Mattinson, who has been with Disney for 69 years, suggested adding a dog to keep the animation grounded in our reality. The filmmakers decided to add the dog who was named Legend after Bernie who is a “bonafide full-on Disney legend and that’s my nickname for him. So we named the dog after Bernie because he was such a champion.”
Last but certainly not least, we have Splat, a six-legged, curious creature who joins the Clades on their adventure. He’s pretty fast and super adorable. You’ll be surprised to learn that Splat is not voiced by Alan Tudyk but Splat’s “isms” and sounds were created by sound designer Shannon Mills.
STRANGE WORL OPENING IN THEATERS THIS NOVEMBER 23rd