Kelly Macdonald: Playing Merida in Brave blew my mind

It’s being dubbed the movie of the summer, so it's no surprise playing the lead role of Merida in Brave is one achievement Scots star Kelly Macdonald is incredibly proud of.

Speaking to STV’s Grant Lauchlan about voicing the part of the feisty flame-haired teen – which is incidentally the first female lead in a Pixar movie – Kelly said: "It’s sort of blowing my mind a tiny little bit, so yeah it’s very exciting."

The animated fable is released in cinemas around Scotland today (August 3), over a week before it hits movie theatres around the rest of the UK.

And Brave is being tipped to be a major movie hit, with anticipation over the film growing in recent weeks.

Explaining a bit about the plot of the latest Disney/Pixar creation, Kelly said: “It’s a medieval fairytale, but it’s not your typical fairytale. The protagonist is called Merida and she’s been living her life happily, doing her own thing, maybe not being your typical teenager but being an outdoorsy teenage.

“But her life is about to change - her mother has got big plans for her getting married off to one of the other clans and she’s not happy, she’s really not happy about that and isn’t ready. So it’s about the struggle. It’s a mother and daughter tale really.”

Set in a stunning setting the mythical Highlands, Brave is expected to attract hordes of tourists who are inspired to visit the beautiful Scottish scenery.

But while the movie is set in Scotland, it was created in the US – leading to a couple of translation problems, as Kelly explained.

“They did so much research and they came over here a ton of times and were really thorough, but they wrote it in San Francisco and it was Americans writing Scottish dialogue – it as amazing but some things didn’t ring  true.

“And I think that’s the great thing about Pixar, everything rings with truth and heart and so they were really open to [changes]. They would ask for examples of Scottish words, so that was really fun having brainstorming sessions.”

Kelly absolutely loved playing the part of passionate Merida, but admitted at times filming her voice-overs could be a lonely process, because of the way scenes are constructed in an animated film.

“In an animation there’s very little dialogue, so much is done by the animators, so there wasn’t that much dialogue to go on. It’s very solitary experience [voicing a character]. I had [film director] Mark Andrews thank God directing me, who’s the most exuberant man, so passionate, so full of life, and so he would really set the scene and get me in the right place …

“I’ve never done an animation before, and the way I work normally, as actors do, you use your face a lot, you use your body to convey things, you’re with other actors. But I had to sword fight, I had to ride a horse, I couldn’t do it static and everything had to be ramped up. I usually go the other way, I underplay more than anything else so it was a real exercise for me to have to make everything bigger and bolder.”

Brave hits cinemas around Scotland today (August 3) and goes on general release in cinemas around the UK from August 13.


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