Actor Billy Connolly pokes fun at Pixar
Actor Billy Connolly attends a special screening of "Buried" at the Tribeca Grand Hotel on September 16, 2010 in New York City.Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
Animated powerhouse Pixar made headlines last week for naming its first female director, but Scottish comedian Billy Connolly poked a bit of fun at the milestone in an interview Tuesday.
The 67-year-old will lend his voice talents to Brave, a film about a princess who defies her parents by pursuing an interest in archery. The film — Pixar’s 13th — will be written and directed by Brenda Chapman.
But Connolly admitted that he wasn’t really aware of the landmark.
“It didn’t dawn on me for ages, because animated directors have always made me laugh,” the affable Connolly said during an interview Tuesday at a swanky Toronto hotel bar.
“The first one I did was (1995’s) Pocahontas, and I said: ‘How do you direct an animated movie?’ Do you say to Donald Duck, ‘Right. Here’s what I want.’ How do you direct Donald Duck?
“Who exactly do you direct? Do you direct the artist? Do you direct the sound guy? Who gets directed first?
“So it didn’t become a matter of male or female to me. I just found (animation) directors absurd and immensely likable.”
Connolly, who will kick off an 11-city Canadian stand-up tour Nov. 2 in Hamilton, is becoming a voice-acting veteran.
In addition to Pocahontas, he loaned his talents to the 2006 smash Open Season and its straight-to-video sequel as well as a few other smaller projects.
“(Animation people) are wonderful people,” Connolly said. “They truly are artistically driven. . . They never say, ‘I always wanted to direct.’ They’ve always arrived at it from some weird angle within the field.”
While Connolly didn’t realize that Chapman was Pixar’s first female director, he says they get along well.
“She’s a lovely woman and she buys me cigars,” he said.
And he’s optimistic that the film, due out in 2012, will live up to the lofty standards created by Pixar’s roster of critically acclaimed box-office smashes, which includes Toy Story 3, Up, and Wall-E.
“It’s good fun, the rehearsals have been really funny,” he said. “Sometimes you worry that it might not come up the lens, but if they’re animated, it’s not going to come up the lens — there is no lens. ...
“They’re terribly good at what they do.”