Belle’s Voice Actor Kylie McNeill Gives Thoughts On The Film | Interview
Mamoru Hosoda’s latest anime movie Bellehas been released in North America and it has been getting amazing praise from the people who have watched it. The English dub of Belle did an incredible job keeping it close to the original source. The CFGsat down with Belle herself, English dub voice actress Kylie McNeill to discuss her experiences on the set of this new exhilarating film.
What drew you to Suzu/Belle’s character?
When I got the casting notice, I read that Suzu was a very shy 17 year old girl who loved songwriting. And that was me! So I was immediately drawn in by the fact that I related to her so much.
What impact do you think Suzu’s experiences in the movie will have on fans?
I hope that kids can relate to Suzu, or adults, anybody really. I think can relate to that character and the journey she experiences… I think Suzu is a very powerful person and she just doesn’t know it yet. And through the movie she figures that out and I think a lot of people can benefit from realizing that they may be holding themselves back. Or their past is holding them back. And I hope they can use Suzu’s journey as, not a template, but an example of how to get through that. And she uses music to get through it!
You’ve mentioned that when you watched it, you thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world. What specifically moved you about the film?
I mean, you’re crying within the first fifteen minutes of watching it, that’s memorable. Honestly the music really hit me hard. And finally seeing the music in context after listening to the soundtrack… without seeing the film for about a month. The characters are really beautifully written, it’s so realistic. It’s like the high school experience. I think a lot of people can relate to it, I can relate to it.
The music is definitely beautiful throughout the entire movie and so are the animation and the storyline. How do you think fans will perceive the virtual world after watching the film?
I think Mamoru Hosoda brings up a lot of points about the internet throughout the movie. A lot of the negatives. But what I think is different is that he brings out and showcases the positives of how the internet can be used. So I hope people come out of the movie going oh, that’s a good way to use the internet as opposed to all the negativity, and hate, and cyberbullying. The internet can be used to bring everyone together rather than tear everyone apart.
Earlier you were saying how much the music impacted you and how beautiful it was. What moved you about the music that was created for this movie?
Initially, on a surface level, it’s produced beautifully. I think it’s written beautifully. Different composers did different songs, so the fact that it all blends together so beautifully I think subconsciously comes across while you’re listening to it. It’s a collaboration, and it just sounds gorgeous. Now looking at it, and being able to see/hear the Japanese version, my version, and the French version…to hear that that music can be translated across languages and still remain so powerful and have that heart, it’s just so cool. It remains beautiful I think.
You mentioned this was one of your first experiences with voice acting. How do you think this experience has shaped your future and your opinions on voice acting?
It was nothing but good, this experience. So I think I’m just going to hold every voice acting job I ever have to this standard of fun. But it’s given me a newfound respect to voice actors and dubbing actors. It’s difficult work. So every time I watch something animated now, I can’t help but think about what was going on behind the scenes, when previously I don’t think I ever even thought about that.
In your personal experiences, do you feel that Belle is an accurate depiction of social media versus reality?
I think because Hosoda explored all those positives and negatives… I’m someone who looks at the internet and just goes oh god. I am overwhelmed, I’m afraid. I never really think about how the internet can bring people together because there’s so much noise. I think Hosoda really provides that sense of hope, that we can come together if we really try. And that the internet can be a positive place. So he’s kind of affected even the way I look at the internet!
Do you think Beauty and the Beast was the best fairy tale to go along with this story? Why or why not?
I believe in interviews I’ve read of Mamoru Hosoda, he originally was thinking, it wasn’t this story, and then oh how can Beauty and the Beast tie into it. It was how do I make a version of Beauty and the Beast that is different, that is present day. And absolutely, I think Beauty and the Beast fits perfectly. There’s the whole theme of what seems pretty might not be so pretty on the inside, or what seems ugly is actually quite beautiful on the inside. And that can be applied to everything, everyday circumstances, the internet itself. It really is a full circle kind of movie. And once people see the movie they’ll know what I mean!
You mentioned earlier that you hoped that kids could relate to Suzu and her experiences. What advice would you give kids, maybe not going through the exact same experience, but who are closed off and kind of struggling in life.
Because it’s something I went through, I know how hard it can be hear advice and know that it will barely affect you. I don’t want to be just like ‘go out there and be confident’. It takes time! It takes time and it takes reassurance, and maybe you’ll find things along the way that will help you through it. For me it was music. And certain people in my life to help me understand that I’m worthy and deserving of good things. I hope kids can understand that just because something takes time doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. You’ll get out the other side of whatever you’re going through.
You mentioned this is your first work in voiceover. But with Belle coming out in North America tomorrow, what’s next for you?
I wish I knew! But I don’t! I really want to work on my own original music, that’s always been a dream of mine. And coming out of this experience where I got to actually record in a real recording studio and be on an actual album, I have a newfound sense of courage. That’s something I really want to pursue.
Belle is currently in theaters now. Go and watch it!