From the delightfully wicked minds of Henry Selick and Jordan Peele, comes WENDELL & WILD, an animated tale about scheming demon brothers Wendell (Keegan-Michael Key) and Wild (Peele) – who enlist the aid of 13-year-old Kat Elliot – a tough teen with a load of guilt – to summon them to the Land of the Living. But what Kat demands in return leads to a brilliantly bizarre and comedic adventure like no other, an animated fantasy that defies the law of life and death, all told through the handmade artistry of stop motion.
Ahead of the release of WENDELL & WILD, Nightmarish Conjurings’ Sarah Musnicky spoke with Lyric Ross. During the conversation, they discussed what initially drew her to the role of Kat, how she adapted her acting style for her first voiceover role, and what everyone should take away from both WENDELL & WILD and her character.
Kat and her ambition in WENDELL & WILD
To start things off, what about Kat initially drew you to the role?
Lyric Ross: There were a couple of things. I think one of the things that Kat had in her was this huge ambition. In that ambition, she actually lacked fear in a way, and that’s something that I actually aspire to have within myself. Fear can really just keep you from going up and moving forward and just stretching yourself to form into who and what you want to be, or what you want to go after. So just getting that from her, just within the obstacles that she faces and how she’s so focused on what she desires, and she goes after it with not much hesitance either. That’s definitely what I want within myself. I haven’t played a character like that yet. So I definitely wanted to be a part of something like that.
Imagination and stillness
With this being your first voice acting role, what was it like for you to adjust your acting style to voice acting? There’s similarities but, for someone like me who is generally a very physical person, it can be a challenge to put all of that into just the voice. Were there any challenges or adjustments you had to make while tackling the role?
Lyric Ross: Oh, man. I really couldn’t tell you how I put everything into play for that. Like you were saying, in live action, you get so used to putting your emotion in your body, your movements, your facial expressions, your eyes, and everything, and just bringing all of that emotion and pulling it back into your voice? It’s definitely a certain toolbox that you have to pull from in order to go into that mode. But for me, I had to learn to stand still again and to really breathe everything, and that kind of that helped with it because it was an exercise of just using my imagination. When you use your imagination, you don’t need movement as much when you close your eyes and are still. You just go with what you have in that stillness. One of the biggest essentials of that is your voice. So yeah, one of the biggest things for me was imagination and stillness.
‘Guilt is a thief of purpose’
Going back to Kat, what do you hope people take away from her? There are many things that you pick up on as an adult from watching her character, but what would you like both kids and adults to take away from her experiences?
Lyric Ross: Oh, that’s a good question. For both kids and adults, I do think that guilt is a thief of purpose, energy, and time. If we just keep letting it take over, we won’t get anywhere that way. Same with fear. If anything, it locks you up. It’s bondage. It’s shackles that you eventually have to break. And they might be scary. It might be easier to just let them keep you locked up forever. But you feel so much better and so much more free and light if you just break them [and] if you fight.
If you [don’t] fight to get out of that box that those thoughts have put you in, they can hover over you for however long you let them in. That’s how much power you have. You can really take over. You can throw them away and be your own person, regardless of what happened in your past. That is not you anymore. You start today. I think that’s a good thing to take away from the movie.
The interview was edited for length and clarity.
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