In “Brave,” Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald (TV’s “Boardwalk Empire,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2”) gives voice to the passionate, rebellious teen Merida — the first lead female hero to carry a film in Pixar’s 26-year history. And by all accounts, she hit the bull’s-eye.
“Kelly has a true Scottish spunkiness in her,” says Brenda Chapman, one of “Brave’s” directors. “And that really comes through. Princess Merida is a girl with a great spirit. And Kelly is able to depict that. There’s a sweetness and an appeal in Kelly that she infuses in Merida. Yet there’s a strength. Kelly has it in spades.”
“Brave” follows the heroic journey of Merida, a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the unruly and uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane).
Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric Witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her skills and resources—including her clever and mischievous triplet brothers—to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late, and discover the meaning of true bravery.
Though Pixar has featured its share of strong female characters, the story of Merida’s turbulent relationship with her by-the-royal-book mother, breaks through as an action-filled fairy tale set along a female story line.
“The fact Merida is the first lead heroine was sort of news to me well after I started working,” Macdonald says. “When I do think about it, it gives me the fear slightly. But I am very proud to be that person.
“Merida was such a fun character to play and her voice isn’t too removed from mine,” the actress continues. “I amped up the teenage thing that’s never quite left my life—I just had to pretend my mom was in the room. Nothing winds you up like your parents.”
Co-Director Mark Andrews saw a great connection between Macdonald and Merida. “Kelly is so alive and vibrant with a great charm, wit and quirkiness that totally works for Merida. The character is funny and goofy and can laugh at herself, but has this Scottish teenage angst. Kelly Macdonald is the soul of the character and she makes Merida truly appealing.”
Macdonald certainly shares Merida’s love of her homeland. “This is going to sound a bit biased, but Scotland is the most beautiful country in the world,” concludes the actress. “The filmmakers have got it down to the tiniest bit of heather—the settings are so lush and verdant, it can make you homesick.”
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International, “Brave” takes aim at Philippine theaters on August 01, and will be presented in Disney Digital 3D™ in select theaters.