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Queen of the Desert

TFK chats with Abigail Breslin, who plays a strong-minded cactus mouse in the animated movie Rango

February 23, 2011

Abigail Breslin is saddling up and heading to the wild, wild West. The 14-year-old actress voices Priscilla, a sassy cactus mouse, in the animated western Rango. The movie follows the adventures of Rango (Johnny Depp), a pet chameleon who is accidentally tossed from his owner's car and winds up in the desert town of Dirt.

Priscilla (voiced by Abigail Breslin) finds a hero in Rango (voiced by Johnny Depp).
PARAMOUNT
Priscilla (voiced by Abigail Breslin) finds a hero in Rango (voiced by Johnny Depp).

Rango is a pro at adapting to his surroundings and taking on different identities. So he convinces everyone in the sleepy little town that he's a hero. Even the strong-willed Priscilla, who has doubts at first, becomes assured of Rango's skills. But when real trouble comes along, will the lizard be able to save the day? Find out on March 4, when Rango opens in theaters.

TFK spoke to Abigail about her fun new role, and how Rango stands out from the rest of the animated pack.

TFK:

What's Priscilla like?

ABIGAIL BRESLIN:

Priscilla has a very dry sense of humor. She's really cute, but she's also very strong-willed. She won't let anybody walk all over her.

TFK:

What drew you to the part?

ABIGAIL:

I saw a sketch of her, and I fell in love. I thought she was so adorable. Although, she wouldn't want to be called adorable! When I learned more about her personality, I wanted to make the movie even more. She's hysterical.

TFK:

What role does Priscilla play in the story?

ABIGAIL:

Priscilla thinks she runs the town of Dirt. She sees herself as wiser than Rango, since she's been around longer than he has. So, she decides to teach him the ropes. At the same time, she's scared of all the bad stuff that's going down in her town. But she won't ever show it. In the end, Rango ends up being her hero, which no one has been able to do so far. No one has been able to break her shell before this.

TFK:

If you could reinvent yourself to be anything, as Rango does, what would you choose to be?

ABIGAIL:

I would want to be a doctor, or maybe a chef. A chef would be really fun. Or a fashion designer.

TFK:

Instead of recording the voices in a recording booth, director Gore Verbinski had all of the actors record together on a sound stage. How did this help you get into character?

ABIGAIL:

We filmed the movie on a soundstage and wore minimal costuming. I wore a hat and braids, like Priscilla. It was almost like we were doing a play. Gore filmed us acting out our parts, and that's how they recorded our voices. So, what you hear in the film is actually the actors talking to each other on the stage. It was really cool to work with other actors instead of reading lines into a microphone in a recording booth by yourself. It felt like we were playing dress up. It didn't feel like work.

TFK:

In addition to Johnny Depp, you also got to work with the talented Isla Fisher and Bill Nighy, among others. Who were you most excited to work with?

ABIGAIL:

I would have to say Johnny Depp, because he's such a legend. I loved all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. But overall, I was excited to work with everybody. It was such a cool group of people.

TFK:

Even though you are a star yourself, do you ever get starstruck?

Abigail records lines for her Rango character, Priscilla.
PARAMOUNT
Abigail records lines for her Rango character, Priscilla.

ABIGAIL:

All the time! I freaked out a month or two ago, because I was in a restaurant and saw somebody from the TV show Pretty Little Liars. I was calling my friends and staring. I'd never go over [and talk to an actor I liked, off set]. I'd be way too shy!

TFK:

What was the most memorable moment on set?

ABIGAIL:

There was a scene where Bill Nighy had to shoot a prop gun. Everyone on set had to wear earplugs and duck down. You wouldn't think doing an animated movie would require you to use real props. I constantly found myself forgetting that it was an animated movie.

TFK:

With so many people in the room, were there any funny mishaps on set?

ABIGAIL:

There weren't any huge mishaps that involved me. Although, I did get a rash on my neck from the wig, so I had to stop wearing it. It was a very itchy wig! But that was a mild mishap.

TFK:

Now that you've voiced a cactus mouse and a puppy in Air Buddies, what other cute creature is next on your voice list?

ABIGAIL:

I'd love to play a baby tiger. I have an obsession with baby tigers. It's the background image on my Twitter feed.

TFK:

What do you think audiences will enjoy about the film?

ABIGAIL:

It's a movie that anyone at any age can enjoy. It's really fun and has a great story and a good message. The characters are really cool. It's not a traditional animated movie about animals.

TFK:

Who would you say is your favorite character in Rango?

ABIGAIL:

I would have to say Priscilla, but I'm a little biased. She thinks this is her movie. She probably thinks it's called Priscilla, not Rango.


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