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LAIKA Studios are known for telling stories with depth, using intricate stop-motion animation to create fantastic worlds. Having the right voice cast is a key element in making a compelling animated feature, and for the upcoming Kubo and the Two Strings, LAIKA enlisted an incredible roster of talent to bring its characters to life.
The film follows the journey of its title character Kubo (Game of Thrones’ Art Parkinson) as he embarks on an amazing – and dangerous – quest. After a spirit is unleashed that threatens Kubo’s peaceful life, he must use his magical shamisen to fend off monsters and solve the mystery of his past. Aiding in his journey are Monkey (Academy Award® winner Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Academy Award® winner Matthew McConaughey), forming an unlikely trio of heroes.
Although Kubo and the Two Strings is ostensibly an epic adventure, its core message focuses on our relationships with other people. During my interview with President & CEO of LAIKA, Travis Knight at a press event for the film in Los Angeles, he spoke to the process of creating a children’s film that deals openly with complicated issues. I attended a press conference with the film’s voice talent that same morning, and asked the cast if this nuanced approach was part of the appeal when they first read the script.
Beeb Ashcroft: Kubo stands out because it is a children’s movie that takes difficult subject matter and handles it in a really intelligent way. Was that something that drew you to the project?
Matthew McConaughey: That’s something LAIKA seems to do with all their projects. They don’t really pander down to the age group. They deal with adult themes in a way that’s digestible for kids. There’s always a good moral to the story, that’s learned in the middle of the adventure. I liked their previous work and this script had all that – yeah.
Charlize Theron: Yeah, for me, I in general love directness. I was raised with a lot of directness. And I think in storytelling we sometimes forget that with children, and there was something about this that was just so clear, and I love that. And I think, as far as taste goes, I like that there’s nothing about this that shies away from very, very real issues. And I think at the end of the day that makes it very powerful and refreshing because we don’t see a lot of that. And so, yeah, I was very excited to be a part of that.
Art Parkinson: I think it’s a very family-oriented film. I think it’s a very relatable family-oriented film because some of the problems that the family faces in the film is very relatable to every family. So I think that’s definitely what drew me to the project.
Charlize Theron: You have a mother that’s a monkey? (Laughter)
Art Parkinson: You never know.
Matthew McConaughey: And a very goofy dad.
Kubo and the Two Strings opens nationwide on August 19th, 2016.