It was a beautiful day in Los Angeles for a picnic, a flower arrangement class and a chat with the voice of Pooh & Tigger, Jim Cummings himself.
It all started out with a flower arrangement class with sisters from Flowerduet company. I learned so much about flowers that day that I didn’t know before including the care for them along with how to arrange them.
Next was a hike through 100 Acre Wood (well really Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden but it was good to imagine it) to a picnic area for a Friendsgiving lunch that was beautifully tablescaped to go with the Christopher Robin theme. We got to take pictures with the actual props of the movie at the picnic table and tree along with special guest Jim Cummings who has done the voice of Tigger and Pooh for decades that we interviewed.
His stories touched my heart in so many ways from listening to him talk about how his voice helped kids who have autism or are sick and we all even teared up just a bit. He is truly passionate about what he does for a living and even shared some of those voices with us at the table. We chatted a bit more about his career and this is what he had to say.
Q: Was the process of recording different than it was for an animated picture?
Jim Cummings: “Yeah, it was hard fitting into the costume. [LAUGHS] But I managed, obviously. You couldn’t tell, right?”
“People think that you kinda loop. In this one we actually, did a lot of looping, you know, to the big screen. But the fact is I recorded the whole movie in one day. It was over a year ago now over in London. And then they took that and, and kinda played it on the set so that they had somethin’ to play off of, you know, and there was a puppeteer there doing really horrible impressions of me which was fun. But they would play my stuff, and so it gave him things to react off of. Then we went back to the studio and they kinda superimposed or however you would say, put in the CGI over the characters.”
“And then bit by bit, you know, they refined it. And then we redid it again, you know, re-looped it again and changed a lot of lines. You’d be surprised at how much different it was than from the very first initial recording. And then we rewound and did Tigger. And it was a bit of a process. And it was more looping on this one than really any other thing I’ve ever done. But, it worked.”
Q: When did you first know that you could do voices?
Jim Cummings: “I started off as a really annoying child [LAUGHS] very early on. I was, you know, [DOLPHIN CALL] doing dolphin noises. And when I was a kid, I enjoyed being in plays, but I would want to be the ogre or the hermit or the weirdo or the wizard instead of the little prince.”
“So, I was probably inadvertently doing research for this now. ‘Cause, you know, guys like me we’re all just — we’re, character actors really. And just doing characters, and that’s kinda what they sound like, you know. So, yeah.”
Q: Out of all the Disney characters you’ve ever done, which one do you relate to the most, and why?
Jim Cummings: “Probably Tigger. Darkwing Duck maybe.”
“Because I am the terror that flaps in the night. [LAUGHS] I don’t know if you knew that. But they’re all Disney characters now, aren’t they? I like Hondo Ohnaka from Star Wars Clone Wars. And that didn’t used to be a Disney — but he’s a Disney character now. It doesn’t look good in mouse years, but [LAUGHS] Disney character. And honestly, Ray from Princess and the Frog is one of my favorites all-time. My little girl Gracie you couldn’t’ve told her that she wasn’t Princess Tiana when she came out, you know.”
“She adopted me, you know, this beautiful little black girl. And she was four years old. Princess Tiana was four years old. And she and Anika kinda bonded. Anika Noni Rose and Princess Tiana. And so that was — that was very touching. I guess I have like five. It’s like which of your five kids are your favorite? [CHUCKLES] Well, all five, you know. Well, but there are more. I always joke I’m Winnie the Pooh and the anti-Pooh, ’cause I’m Tasmanian Devil, too. No relation to Pooh, not in the 100-acre wood. He would just eat it.”
Q: What’s your favorite quote for Pooh and Tigger?
Jim Cummings: “You’re stronger than you seem, braver than you believe.”
Q: Do feel that the generations have changed over the years with the new children learning about Pooh?
Jim Cummings: “Not really. People don’t really say, well, what was it like taking over this huge franchise. And it wasn’t around for 20 somethin’ years in ‘87 which gave me a chance to grow up [CHUCKLES] and become an adult so I could audition.”
“It hadn’t really been around so it was kinda new. Everybody always had it in the back of their minds and had sold a lot of the VHS tapes I’m sure. There was a show called Welcome to Pooh Corner. It was an odd one but it was folks in costumes, and it was weird because Eeyore his head looked like he was a linebacker. I don’t know. [LAUGHS] But there was a little bit of it there, but it just wasn’t as prevalent as it is now.”
“So, it wasn’t that big a deal to me and it is now. So you’re all stuck with me apparently. [CHUCKLES] But kids have always seemed like it’s a universal thing and I’ve thought a lot about this. It’s kinda like a pipeline to your childhood almost no matter how old you are.”
Q: What’s your favorite memory since you’ve been doing this?
Jim Cummings: “Oh, gosh. I have a lot of ‘em. For some reason, kids with autism really respond not only to me but to voice actors. It’s just a thing, you know. And it’s a beautiful thing. It’s like a little gift that I get to give and boy, I can’t tell some of these stories. I’ll cry. But I’ve called a lot of kids who were sick.”
“And the moms will get ya. I can get through it with the child, but then she gets on the phone and will say he hasn’t talk– he hasn’t cried and now he’s laughing and now he’s — I don’t know. God. Stop. [CHUCKLES] So there’s a lot of those.”
About the Movie
In the heartwarming live-action adventure, the young boy who embarked on countless adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood with his band of spirited and lovable stuffed animals has grown up and lost his way. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin remember the loving and playful boy who is still inside.
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