This Friday when Brave hits theaters, audiences will meet Merida, Disney Pixar's first heroine. The storied studio has never had a girl star in its 12 animated films, but that will change with Merida, a headstrong princess of the ancient Scottish kingdom of DunBroch, determined to change her destiny. Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald, who has starred in Boardwalk Empire and No Country For Old Men, is the voice of Merida, who comes to life on screen with wild red hair and enviable archery skills. Unlike Disney princesses of the past, Merida is strictly opposed to landing a prince charming, which causes her to clash with her elegant and duty-minded mother, Queen Elinor. I traveled to Scotland to interview the stars and makers of Brave, and sat down with Kelly Macdonald, a mother herself, to talk about what it was like to play Pixar's first leading lady, how she relates to the characters as a daughter and a mother, and what it means to be brave. Watch now, and enjoy Kelly's beautiful Scottish accent!
I think we're all brave in our different ways every day. When you're a teenager you just think you know it all, you think, "I've reached my full height. This is my full maturity." I am Merida and I'll be shooting for my own hands. How does it feel to voice Pixar's first female heroin? I did have a couple of days of discomfort under pressure. And then, you know, just get on with it and just concentrate on the job in hand. And I just know that people are gonna enjoy the film. It's Pixar doing it's Pixar thing. You know, what's not to love? Right . I found the mother/daughter dynamic very authentic. Did you relate to Merida in that sense? Yeah, of course. I think any women can relate to the mother-daughter experience and teenage girls are just, can be a handful and when you're a teenager you just think you know it all. You think, "I've reached my full height. This is my full maturity. And I know everything." And it's just you know, a good mother, just patiently. So as a mother did you relate to the queen as well? No, I was all about Merida if I'm honest. I'm not quite there yet. Right. Did you grow up knowing Disney princesses at all? Snow White was the film that I really remember watching. But I don't think I've ever seen Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella. Little Mermaid was kind of after my time in a way and I had coloring books, I feel like I was always coloring in princesses, but I don't remember really watching anyone except Snow White. What attributes of Merida do you admire the most? I love her vitality and her love of the outdoors and her adventure. What do you think it means for a woman to be brave? I think we're all brave in our different ways every day and it just depends on your circumstances but I think the smallest thing can be brave. I mean sometimes just leaving the house can be brave, you know? Is there someone, like a woman, in your life who you admire for being brave? I think my mom actually is a very brave lady. She had a lot of illness to combat when she was a child. So do you think the movie and the characters depict Scotland accurately or authentically? I think it gets the humor of the Scottish people and I think that the landscape as well is very authentic. And it's just the base of Scotland.