Recently, I was able to hop on a Zoom Video Call with two of the cast from the Netflix Original Over the Moon. You can watch the new animated family-friendly film on Netflix premiering tomorrow, October 23rd! After having the chance to screen the movie with my family, I sat down to chat about the premises of story, making of the animated film and challenges of doing voice overs with Ken Jeong and Margaret Cho.
One sentence to sum up Over the Moon is “the feel good movie we didn’t know we needed”. 2020 has been rough in more ways than one and this story brought forth diversity, culture, inspiration, love, hope and showed true ambition. With strong female roles, the main character was super smart, loyal and had a vivid imagination. I loved seeing how a little girl can be portrayed as the top of her class, a scientist and have a creative imagination that leads to play and acceptance of change.
Don’t be surprised if you shed a few tears!
I was surprised with Ken Jeong’s role as Gobi. I think Jeong is absolutely hilarious and love several of the movies he is in that are geared towards adults. So seeing him play a sweet, passive and almost innocent type role was a big change. Plus, he sings!
This voiceover is so much different from most of your comedic roles. Did you have to do anything special to prepare yourself to be in a different state of mind?
Ken Jeong:I think it’s the latter. I think prepping myself to be in a different state of mind, especially the voiceover is very challenging because I don’t want to go in too prepared. Sometimes as an actor – and which is kind of odd for me because I, especially early on in my movie career, I would really go in well prepared and I pride myself on my preparation.
But, you know, I feel for this particular project it’s so important in animation where you sometimes over prepare – at least, for me, – as a talent is it can go the other way. You just don’t want to get hardened with your choices. Because at the end of the day, you really have to trust the process.
It takes such a large village to create something animated. And you really have to surrender yourself and trust yourself and trust everyone around you and know that they will put you in the best light possible.
So, I found myself trying to be as open-minded to every choice as possible and making sure that Glen and I and the producers were all on the same page. And then we just let it rip, you know? Then we get more specific with our choices.
Was there a particular scene that resonated with you and pulled at your heart strings?
Margaret Cho:I just thought the whole movie was so beautiful and the whole thing was so emotional. You know, it’s just a really beautiful story.
I think really from beginning to end, it’s just so magnificent and solid and everybody’s so great in it. So, I just loved it.
Ken Jeong:Yes, there was – I think in recording one of the final scenes of the movie between Gobi and Fei Fei I got emotional. I just started crying while I was doing the voiceover, I’ve never done that before, because the heart in the movie is just so rich and textured, it just kind of overtook me a little bit.
And yes, it was really wonderful and I never experienced anything like that before on a voiceover nor since. So, there’s just a lot of magic in this movie.
Are there any specific messages or lessons or cultural elements that you are hoping that families take away from this movie, kids or adults?
Margaret Cho:Well, I think it’s really about diversity and about showing this multicultural sort of landscape where we have this kind of sharing of all of these traditions and making it part of what holidays are all over the world. And also, what an Asia America looks like.
And so, I think it’s really important now more than ever that we have this kind of diversity.
Ken Jeong:Yes, I think appreciating one’s cultural specificity allows you to realize that, universally, we’re all the same. But, there are so many relatable elements that you don’t have to be Asian to love Over the Moon because I think the deeper you go you realize the broader the appeal, you know?
And I think that’s the way filmmaking in general is happening within the Asian community, from Crazy Rich Asians to Tigertail that was on Netflix. That was my favorite movie of the year, which is about a father and a daughter.
So, I feel like the deeper we go as Asian American artists, you actually can yield bigger global satisfaction. So, yes.
Do you find it more challenging to do voiceover animation or TV shows and movies?
Margaret Cho: Oh, it’s very different because it’s a long thing. You’re doing a voice that you’re not going to see in the animation for a year or more. And so, you really have to work in a collaborative way with the director, with the production.
It’s a really interesting process, but I love it. It’s very different, though.
Ken Jeong: Yes, I completely agree with Margaret. There is something that’s very introspective and more challenging about voiceover in the sense that you have to create your own world to perform. Whereas, when you’re doing live action, the world is already out there. You have other actors. You have other landscape as an actor that you can respond and react to.
But the difficult part of voiceover is it hasn’t been animated yet. You have to really see it for yourself. And it’s only with a good script and great producers and director that can really provide that world. But we were so blessed to have Glen Keane, the director, and as well as the producers to provide that template for us very, very easily.
Doing the voiceover based on the script and the descriptions you were given, did the final look like what you visualized in your head?
Margaret Cho: I had some vague drawings kind of before going into it. So, I kind of knew what it was sort of going to look like, but it’s really magical to see at the end. I mean, it’s really incredible and it’s just so beautiful to see. I loved it.
Ken Jeong: Yes, I agree. I think the visuals are just so lush. And I think what was amazing – off the top of my head with Chang’e – the fact that her gowns were actually designed. And I think Margaret can elaborate on that.
Margaret Cho: Yes. By Guo Pei who did Rihanna’s gown that looks like eggbeaters from the Met Gala that she wore that’s a big yellow but it’s a Chinese embroidery. It’s really beautiful. That’s who designed Chang’e’s looks.
So, it’s really elaborate. It’s really incredible.
Everyone as a child had a big dream like going to the moon. What were your big dreams?
Margaret Cho: I think I’m doing it. Being in entertainment, being a standup comedian, – yes, for sure, definitely doing it now. So, we’re on the moon at the moment in a way.
Ken Jeong: Yes, this is beyond my dreams because I think when I was in high school, I just wanted to get into a good college and that was really it. I didn’t have much of a vivid imagination, nor do any theater in high school. I did a lot of music but nothing in terms of acting and definitely not comedy.
So, I’m a late bloomer in life. And I just kind of evolved all these things even towards the end of college and actually during medical school. So, I do believe everything I’ve done right now is – I’m at the moon in my mind. Yes.
The mythology of the fable of the Chinese moon goddess, culturally was that part of your childhood and was mid-Autumn festival an annual tradition?
Margaret Cho:I didn’t have Chang’e as that particular myth, but I had similar ones growing up. And then our mid-Autumn festival is really of some Korean. So, ours is Chuseok, which just happened, but it’s the same time of year. So, it’s like Korean thanksgiving.
And so, it’s kind of the similar foods, similar celebration. It’s kind of a like a fall harvest ceremony and it’s really nice way to celebrate with family. It’s all about food, too.
Ken Jeong:Yes. I mean, absolutely, same here. You know, my family’s on the east coast and I’d make sure that they’re participating in Chuseok and kind of celebrating that, making sure that I’m in contact with them virtually during that time.