Bridgit Mendler Q&A: “The Secret World of Arrietty,” Music and More

If you’re looking for a movie to see this weekend, we highly recommend The Secret World of Arrietty.

The US version of the Studio Ghibli blockbuster from Disney features the voices of Bridgit Mendler, Carol Burnett, Amy Poehler, Will Arnett, and David Henrie, and is based upon the popular book series The Borrowers.

We had the chance to chat with Bridgit at the press junket earlier this month (where she’s pictured above with Carol & Amy, her first time meeting them) to chat all about the movie, her song “Summertime,” and even her future music plans.

How challenging was it to step into a project where all the animation, the mouth movements and story were already done?
Bridgit: They wrote the script in mind with the idea of us having to say the words in English matching up to the lengths in speech that was in the movie. A lot of that was already in mind but it was up to us as actors to match the inflect and expression of how you see the characters move their mouths. Sometimes they’d make slight alterations to that but it was just an interesting process. I enjoyed it because not often do you have to fit your words to something that has already been said.

Click inside for more of our Q&A and be sure to check out The Secret World of Arrietty, in theaters now!

Did you know you’d be doing a song for the movie going into it?
B: I didn’t know I was going to be doing a song at first. They did talk to me about it during the recording process and I wrote a song before the movie, then they wound up using that song. I think it’s a nice fit and hopefully it will be on iTunes. I don’t think it’s going to be on my album. I kind of like to keep my music and acting worlds separate except for those projects where I contribute a little bit of music to an acting thing. I was really happy they wanted me to do music for the movie.

What is it that makes Disney so magical and special as an actor?
B: They really have a commitment to making quality programs and a commitment to having their kids that are part of the show be able to express themselves in whatever positive way they want to. For me, music has kind of been a big thing so they’ve been able to help me with that. I have a strong connection with Friends for Change and so they’ve allowed me to incorporate myself into that as well. I think they really want their kids to follow their dreams and encourage other kids to do the same.

You’ve worked with David Henrie before on Wizards of Waverly Place. Did you get to work with him while recording for “Secret World of Arrietty”?
B: It was all recorded separately. Every one.

Is it more challenging to do a voice over project than a live-action?
B: I’ve enjoyed doing animation for a long time, it’s one of the first things I did when I started in the entertainment industry at age 11. I feel like it’s something I can connect to and it’s something that requires a lot of imagination but at the same time you don’t have to get dressed up, you don’t have to go to a set. It moves really quickly. I did the whole movie in 3 days. In that sense, it doesn’t require as much work, but it requires a lot more work of the mind, which I actually enjoy.

The Borrowers as characters are really ingenious in how they take human products and adapt it for their world. Was there something you were particularly impressed by with how they lived, etc?
B: I thought it was cool how they used water, actually. They made it so that a droplet of water would fill a little basin and their little basin is like a pistachio shell. That was enough for them and it was just interesting, I thought, that they didn’t make the rain drops especially small, they made them the size that they would be for you and me. Through doing that, you got to see how physics effected the borrowers and how the natural world was just completely different for them.

What was the inspiration for “Summertime” and what’s next with your music apart from acting?
B: I think my thing is that I kind of like the idea of my music identity being separate than any acting character I work on. I’ve had it overlap in a few roles but I don’t see that as being my own music, I see that as being the character’s music. That’s why I like the separation between those two.

For this particular project, though, I had already written the song and they just thought it was a nice song, so they wanted to use it for the movie. I think it’s so great to be able to put a song into a particular project and I’ve done it with a few movies now. You’re really trying to shape that sound to match the sound of the project and with this song, the song was already written, but it hadn’t been produced. It was interesting because the production was really a big tool making the song match up with the movie.

When did you see the original Japanese version of “The Secret World of Arrietty” and did you think about that version when recording for the English version when regarding tone, etc?
B: I saw it before I even signed on for this project. They’d play [the Japanese version] for me before I would do takes so I could hear the inflection and sometimes they would tell me what the character was actually saying word for word because I think that makes a difference. Each language has a different meaning behind what they say and sometimes it’s hard to completely translate it exactly. I thought that it was really neat to do my own version of that in English.

The movie is about an unforgettable summer experience. What was your unforgettable summer experience?
B: I feel like my summer experiences were kind of similar to Arrietty’s in that I was really into exploring the natural world and I loved climbing trees and rocks. There was this island that my family would visit in Maine and we’d just climb around the whole island and it was all about exploring nature and becoming acquainted with that part of life.

What can we expect from your upcoming album?
B: I think you can expect…it definitely has the pop base to it but I think it’s going to be kind of funky and a little soulful. I enjoyed experimenting throughout the album. I wrote on all the songs. There were definitely collaborations with other people in terms of helping come up with how the song is going to go but I was there for all of it.

What are you looking forward to exploring with Teddy on “Good Luck Charlie” in the third season and will she being going to college any time soon?
B: I think at this point she’s 17, so she’s nearing college age. I think she has one more year of high school but college is on the horizon. She has a new sibling now and so I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of other crazy things coming up.