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It’s a Small World

TFK chats with Bridgit Mendler about her role in the animated film The Secret World of Arrietty

February 17, 2012
©2010 GNDHDDTW. All Rights Reserved.

Arrietty (voiced by Bridgit Mendler) catches a ride on Shawn’s shoulder.

Have you noticed anything missing from your home lately? Perhaps a cube of sugar or a piece of tissue paper? If so, you might have Borrowers living under your floorboards! The Secret World of Arrietty, based on the Borrowers books by Mary Norton, follows a spirited young Borrower named Arrietty Clock as she navigates the big world around her. Borrowers are tiny people who “borrow” small items from their regular-sized, human neighbors in order to survive—and they must do this without being discovered.

When a 14-year-old boy named Shawn (voiced by David Henrie) accidentally spots Arrietty, it could spell disaster for her family. Shawn promises to protect his new friend’s secret, but his housekeeper, Hara (voiced by Carol Burnett), is not so nice. Will the Clocks escape before Hara exposes them all? The Secret World of Arrietty is in theaters now.

Good Luck Charlie star Bridgit Mendler is the voice of Arrietty. TFK spoke to the actress about playing a teensy girl in a land of giants.

TFK:

Were you familiar with the Borrowers books before you heard about the project?

BRIDGIT MENDLER:

I had definitely heard of the story, but I hadn’t read the books. My grandfather actually had, so it was cool to tell him about the project. He was excited about that.

TFK:

Did you get a chance to read the books after you got the role?

BRIDGIT:

I haven’t had a chance to yet. It was such a brief project. I worked for three days and then it was over. But it was fun to watch the Japanese version of the movie and put our own spin on the story.

TFK:

For those who don’t know, who exactly are the Borrowers?

BRIDGIT:

The Borrowers are these tiny people who live in the floorboards of human houses. They basically steal from the humans, but only things that people won’t notice are missing, like a paperclip or a rubber band or a postage stamp... things like that.

TFK:

How would you describe your character?

BRIDGIT:

She’s a girl with a lot of curiosity and a lot of heart. She meets this human boy, whom she’s been instructed by her parents to stay clear of. Humans can be dangerous to Borrowers because they might try to catch them and expose them. But she winds up befriending him anyway, and he winds up needing her help too, so they become good friends.

TFK:

How did you go about imagining yourself as this tiny being in a huge world?

BRIDGIT:

Well, the cool part about working on animation is that you get to use your imagination a lot. Luckily for me, I had the Japanese version of the movie to watch as I recorded. I enjoyed it, because I was able to step into Arrietty’s shoes that way.

TFK:

Do you share any similarities with her?

BRIDGIT:

I think I’m kind of a curious and adventurous type, too. She loves exploring and climbing. Our family has this island house in Maine, and we’d always climb up on the rocks and explore there. I’ve always been the tree-climbing type, so it’s kind of a throwback to my roots.

Once Nina the cat finally stops chasing Arrietty, the pair become unlikely allies.
©2010 GNDHDDTW. All Rights Reserved.
Once Nina the cat finally stops chasing Arrietty, the pair become unlikely allies.

TFK:

Aside from Arrietty, did you have a favorite character from the film?

BRIDGIT:

You know, I like the cat. The cat has a lot of pizazz.

TFK:

Arrietty likes to collect plants to decorate her room. Do you collect anything?

BRIDGIT:

I love to collect cookbooks. I like looking for new things to cook. And I love having fresh flowers in my house, so the plant similarity with Arrietty is kind of there. I also love chocolate, so I have quite a stash of chocolate around my room!

TFK:

What was it like to be a part of a voice cast that includes award-winning actors such as Amy Poehler and Carol Burnett, and of course, your Wizards of Waverly Place costar David Henrie?

BRIDGIT:

It was amazing. The interesting thing about animation is that you don’t actually meet any of your fellow actors through the process, but I got to see David Henrie again doing publicity for the movie. I got to meet Amy Poehler and Carol Burnett at the press day, too. I’m a big fan of them both.

TFK:

Speaking of Wizards, we finally learned who gets to be the family wizard! Even though your character, Juliet, was rooting for Justin, do you feel like the right Russo won?

BRIDGIT:

It’s always so hard to pick between Alex and Justin, because they both have a passion for what they do. It worked out nicely because Justin loves rules and he loves to have things a certain way, so he gets to become the headmaster of the wizard school and Alex gets to be the family wizard. I approve of that ending.

TFK:

After playing someone so tiny, do you look at the world differently now?

BRIDGIT:

I was a kid who would play with a penny on my fireplace and pretend it was a car driving along the ridges. I love the idea of looking at things through a different size perspective. Why not think of a staircase as Mount Everest? It’s kind of fun to play with perspective.

TFK:

What message would you like kids to take away from the film?

BRIDGIT:

I think it has a real message of accepting people for who they are. There’s this awesome friendship that forms between Shawn and Arrietty. They’re very different people who have difficult things they have to deal with and overcome. They’re able to be there for each other and accept each other’s differences. I’m glad they made that message a part of the movie.


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