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Disney/Pixar's The Good Dinosaur (L-R: Nash/A.J. Buckley, Butch/Sam Elliott, Ramsey/Anna Paquin, Arlo, & Spot)

Disney/Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur
[L-R: Nash (A.J. Buckley), Butch (Sam Elliott), Ramsey (Anna Paquin), Arlo, & Spot]

I was very fortunate to get to take part in roundtable interviews for Disney/Pixar’s new animated feature, The Good Dinosaur, with cast members Sam Elliott (Tombstone, The Big Lebowski, FX’s Justified, Grandma) who is the voice of T-Rex Cowboy, Butch, Anna Paquin (HBO’s True Blood, X-Men) who is the voice of Butch’s daughter, Ramsey, and A.J. Buckley (TNT’s Murder in the First, FX’s Justified) who is the voice of Butch’s son, Nash!

For those of you who are familiar with Mr. Elliott’s ridiculously fantastic voice, I would like to take a moment to put your mind at ease:
His voice is just as epic in person as it is on screen. Oh, and the man is a total charmer in the most kind and genuine way – He’s rad. (Confession: I audibly giggled every time he said my name. And I’m not ashamed of it.)

Furthermore, Paquin and Buckley were just as awesome, candid, and fun. I really enjoyed hearing the three of them talk about the profound messages of The Good Dinosaur, all that went into making the movie and voicing their characters, and how grateful they are to have been a part of the film.

I hope you love what they had to say as much as I did:

 

Paquin came in holding her Ramsey “action-figure” which was a crack up! She’s awesome. #LoveYouRogue

Question: Is this your favorite version of yourself in toy form?
Anna Paquin: Oh absolutely!

 

Question: How do you bring a T-Rex to life? With all of the other dinosaurs out there, what’s the unique thing about being a T-Rex?
Anna Paquin: Well we’re definitely bigger and badder and cooler and tougher! So there’s that. But other than just, like, a general level of coolness, [Sam had] already laid down his tracks so trying to not sound like an idiot next to him; not embarrass myself!

Disney/Pixar's The Good Dinosaur

Disney/Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur

Question: Did you record together or did you record separately?
A.J. Buckley: No, this is the first time we’ve all sat down together!
Anna Paquin: Yeah!
Sam Elliott: Totally crazy.
A.J. Buckley: We said earlier it would have actually been fun to have been all in a room and bounced off of each other [while we recorded our tracks for the film]; it would have been cool.

 

Question: How did you guys find your roar?
Anna Paquin: My roar came very naturally.
(Everyone laughs)
Anna Paquin continues: I’d say from 24 years of being a girl slash woman in the film industry and never getting to, like, for the most part, be anything other than girly girls. Trust me, there was like several decades worth of roar that came out. I mean, look, True Blood was awesome cuz she was kind of badass but in a very different way and was still very girly.
[Ramsey, however,] is one of the dudes! You know what I mean? And there’s actually nothing intrinsically unfeminine about that and I think that’s really great. You know, that’s the kind of stuff that I would loved to have watched growing up.

Ramsey (Anna Paquin) and Nash (A.J. Buckley) of The Good Dinosaur

Ramsey (Anna Paquin) and Nash (A.J. Buckley) of The Good Dinosaur

Question: What does being a part of the Pixar legacy mean to you and your career?
Sam Elliott: It’s a huge thing to be a part of this legacy. It’s huge. Huge. It’s like a milestone of sorts career-wise being involved in these things. And there’s so much work that goes into them. They cover so much time – the production of them is mind-boggling. And so many people you’ve never cross paths with [have worked on the same film as you]. And on a [live-action] film, you meet most of the people that are involved and in this thing, you don’t even see most of them. Incredible.

 

Question: How much does working for Pixar/making a Pixar movie, make a difference when deciding to accept a role in a film such as this?
Anna Paquin: Well it means you don’t ask any questions after, “They’d like you to be in [a Pixar movie!]” [And you say,] “Oh! It’s Pixar! Okay! I’ll do whatever you want!”
A.J. Buckley: I seriously had said to my agent when they called, I was like, “Are you sure?! It’s me?! They really want me?!” … And then it’s a T-Rex of all! It’s not like you were an ant or a bird; You’re a T-Rex!

 

Question: Were you able to see character designs before you started recording and base your character off of those designs? Or was it all, only on the page and what [director, Peter Sohn] pitched you?
Sam Elliott: Nothing other than what was on the page was what was presented to me. And there was one rendering. … But going in, I mean, you go into these things, and it’s not like you’re going into to a live action movie where you’ve prepared and learned and, you know [whether you should] look good or look shitty or whatever. It’s kind of an unknown territory when you go in.
Question: Was that challenging?
Sam Elliott: Well the thing was that Peter’s truly incredible. Remarkable man. Talented actor in his own right in the voice-over world. And he knew, specifically, everything that he wanted, I think, out of all of us.
If my dealings were representative of the way that he dealt with everybody else, I mean, he knew what he wanted and that’s all an actor can ask for in a director. It made it really a lot of fun for one and pretty easy.

Disney/Pixar's The Good Dinosaur

Disney/Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur

Question: Do you make adjustments if it’s just vocals?
Sam Elliott: I try to do whatever he wants!
(Everyone laughs)
Anna Paquin: What he said!
Sam Elliott: It’s his movie, not my movie.
A.J. Buckley: I had to make an adjustment because when I first sat down with him, I was like, “How was I selected?” He was like, “It was from your character on Justified. I really like Danny Crowe.”
And they sample your voice and [Sam and Anna] had both been cast. So he said they took my character’s voice from a scene from Justified and animated it into a scene that [Sam and Anna] had already laid down the track for. And it blended.
So then when I got up to do the voice, I was kind of playing around and he’s like, “Just do Danny! Do Danny Crowe.” And I was trying to find who Danny Crowe was.
And as I’ve said before, I chewed while doing Justified so my lip was always full. And I was like, “Well I had chew the whole time.”
And there was a Jolly Rancher in front [of me]. So I picked it up [and put it in my mouth]; so the whole session at Pixar, I had Jolly Ranchers stuffed in my mouth and I found the character Nash. And as soon as I put it in, then Nash came out. And it was just this weird thing that happened.

 

Question: The Hollywood cliché is that the Western has been as death’s door since 20 odd years. And this is basically a Western.
Sam Elliott: It has that theme for certain.
Question: Do you see this as a continuation of that genre or a way of possibly revitalizing that genre?
Sam Elliott: You know, I’m never going to let that bone go. I have a couple of Westerns that I still intend to get made at some point and time. I just think there’s great value in the genre. I think the simplicity of it is one of those things; the kind of black and white and the lack of gray area. Which I think is in [The Good Dinosaur] as well. And I think there’s a lot of elements in it that are common to this and that’s man’s struggle against man, man’s struggle against nature, and man’s struggle against himself. And those are the three kinds of themes, to me, that were most important in most of the Westerns that I did. And I think that those themes speak to a lot of people. And I think on some level, although the younger audience may not intellectualize that, they’ll be turned on to it; their curiosity will be peaked. You don’t see many kids playing cowboys and Indians anymore.
A.J. Buckley: I do that all the time.
Sam Elliott: Yeah but you’re a different kind of kid.

Disney/Pixar's The Good Dinosaur

Disney/Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur

Question: I have a question about the message of the film. I was just wondering, if you had seen this movie as children, what message would you want your younger selves to take away from it? Does that make sense?
Anna Paquin nods at me, kindly.
Sam Elliott: … Kinda.
(Everyone laughs)
Sam Elliott: You know I’m just kidding you, Katie.
(That’s me! Que my ridiculous giggle.)
Sam Elliott continues: It’s like a universal tale this thing. It speaks to humankind, you know what I mean? I mean, we’re all going through it. We all go through it maybe all our lives, you know? Fear of the unknown and survival and, you know, trying to do what’s right… or wrong.
(Everyone laughs)
Sam Elliott continues: I think there are a lot of themes and a lot of different lessons to take away from this. The most exciting thing to me is that it’s great family fare. We’ve all done the dark stuff and I’ve done a couple of these family shows before but the fact that it’s family fare and, you know, we’re in the entertainment business. You know this world we’re living in today, as dark as it is, and as horrific as it is, and how lucky are we to be, number one sitting here, but making these kinds of movies? It’s a real gift. I’ve always just looked at this as a gift when it comes to that.

 

To learn more about the film, you can check out my review of The Good Dinosaur here!

The Good Dinosaur comes out in theaters everywhere on November 25th!

About author View all posts

Katherine Sangiorgio

Katherine is a proud UCLA grad turned freelance writer who enjoys writing about love, life, feminism, positive body image, and all things nerdy, shiny, and/or polka-dotted.
She loves to spend her free time kickin’ it with her crazy-awesome husband and their cat, Joey Tribbiani.
You can catch up with Katherine on Facebook at facebook.com/katherinesangiorgio, on IG at @SassyKatieSang, and on Twitter as @KathSangiorgio

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