Alison Lohman Interview
Flying under the tabloids’ radar, Alison Lohman is a star for the new millennium: she is focused on her work, not her image. Chris Neumer sits down to chat with her and quickly gets inside the ins-and-outs of good co-stars and why Lohman believes that everything she does is hard.
CHRIS NEUMER: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me. I appreciate it.
ALISON LOHMAN: Definitely.
CHRIS NEUMER: Particularly considering the quotes I saw attributed to you saying the acting is fun and the publicity is what you get paid for. And I thought, wow, anyone who can come out and say that deserves some kind of credit.
ALISON LOHMAN: It’s true. [Laughs]
CHRIS NEUMER: Now, I was curious, is there any good press? I’ll start out by saying this; I had done a big feature on Rosario Dawson probably a year and a half ago. And she said she almost called off the interview. She said she almost dialed my number to call it off and then thought better of it. And she just launched into a tangent about how everyone thought she was bringing down J. Lo’s marriage at the time. And then she said, ‘I realized you weren’t going to ask me anything about Cris Judd, you weren’t going to ask me anything about Ben Affleck, and I thought, okay, I can do this.’ So I ask: is there good press?
ALISON LOHMAN: Um, I guess if you’re dealing with a social-environmental-political issue that could inform people or make people more aware. Like, for instance, I think this movie is a great movie for anybody to see, because it does have environmental — like, just what’s happening right now, with the pollution of the world and the toxic jungle, and understanding nature and humanity. God, it’s so pertinent to now because…
CHRIS NEUMER: Even though it was made twenty-one years ago.
ALISON LOHMAN: …Even though it was made twenty-one years ago, yeah. With war, and my character is a pacifist, and believes that she’ll do anything… To get what you want, you have to understand the other side. So, that’s how she saves her valley, by understanding how the toxic jungle was formed. It’s very similar to what’s happening now, I think.
CHRIS NEUMER: Really? Is anyone trying to understand how the other people think right now?
ALISON LOHMAN: Well, I mean… [Laughs]
CHRIS NEUMER: No, I understand what you’re saying,
ALISON LOHMAN: No, they’re actually not.
CHRIS NEUMER: Okay. But if you’re promoting a movie that has a good message like this, press is good?
ALISON LOHMAN: In that case, I think press is good. Yeah.
CHRIS NEUMER: But if I were pressing you hardcore about something with Tara Reid then it would probably go the other direction.
ALISON LOHMAN: It would be so boring and I would not even want to have that kind of conversation.
CHRIS NEUMER: Boring? Interesting.
ALISON LOHMAN: Yeah.
CHRIS NEUMER: I find it interesting you say that would be boring. And it strikes a nerve with me because it seems that every housewife in Iowa is fascinated by it. It’s the end-all, be-all, of their day.
ALISON LOHMAN: I know. It’s our culture.
CHRIS NEUMER: It is, this is why In Touch and People, well not People, but The Star and things like that are making billions of dollars.
ALISON LOHMAN: It takes the place of the king and queen, right?
CHRIS NEUMER: One would think.
ALISON LOHMAN: People are obsessed with the king and queen and, I don’t know, people who are wealthy and beautiful, or…
CHRIS NEUMER: Part of the glitterati.
ALISON LOHMAN: Yeah.
CHRIS NEUMER: But to you it’s boring!
ALISON LOHMAN: I think it’s boring.
CHRIS NEUMER: It’s just an interesting contradiction, not in what you’re saying, but that one’s person’s interest is another person’s boredom.
ALISON LOHMAN: Yeah, exactly. It’s interesting because there are so many other subjects to be talking about right now. But we are diverted by that. I mean, what is that? It has no meaning, no relevance to anything, it’s just [empty] so, I don’t know. It’s almost like we need to brainwash ourselves to listen to what’s really happening and not just to the propaganda and what the press shows us.
CHRIS NEUMER: I refuse! I’m just going to read about Lindsay Lohan from now until 2008, that’s it!
ALISON LOHMAN: [Laughs] Will you be happy?
CHRIS NEUMER: Yeah, I’m going to be ignorantly happy, I’m going to be full of bliss. Oh, God! That might be true! Changing subjects, I was thinking about doing voiceover work like you did on this film. This was your first voiceover experience, correct?
ALISON LOHMAN: Yes.
CHRIS NEUMER: And I was curious, how did this differ from regular looping, that you might do for a live-action film?
ALISON LOHMAN: You have to create a character. I mean, obviously, you have the cartoon image that is creating the movements and the kind of gestures that she makes. Then you have to fit the sound to that. So it’s not like you’re coming up with–I mean, the body’s not there. The body movement, the gestures have already been created for you so you have to kind of match that. If you have a sound that doesn’t go with that, that kind of clashes with that, then the audience isn’t going to get the full effect of that character. So you have to sort of adapt yourself to that, what Miyazaki created.
CHRIS NEUMER: Correct me if I’m wrong here, but since this was animated twenty plus years ago and it was you fitting a new, American voice to the character, isn’t that, in principle at least, the same as you doing something on a soundstage somewhere and then matching your voice to what you did previously?
ALISON LOHMAN: Um…
CHRIS NEUMER: Or am I going very deep there?
ALISON LOHMAN: I guess so, but you don’t remember those movements. You remember what you did, but how can you remember that? You never created that image. Those movements aren’t familiar for you. You’ve never done them.
CHRIS NEUMER: That seems like more of a challenge, then.
ALISON LOHMAN: It is a challenge. The other thing that’s not a challenge is when you see her mouth talk it’s not as intricate as if you were trying to match your mouth, because it’s animation.
CHRIS NEUMER: More room for error?
ALISON LOHMAN: Exactly. It’s just kind of like a mouth — I don’t know how to explain it — like the Pac-Man mouth, in a way.
CHRIS NEUMER: (Laughs) Yes.
ALISON LOHMAN: It’s easier to get words out of that. You have more space to make up what you want. You don’t have to be so strict with it.
CHRIS NEUMER: It seems nice. More freedom seems like it’s always beneficial.
ALISON LOHMAN: It is nice, yeah. Definitely.
CHRIS NEUMER: This taps into something else I wanted to talk to you about. How do you — and feel free to answer this for any of your movies — how do you determine what you are going to create in a character that you’re playing?
ALISON LOHMAN: It’s definitely about the actions behind the words. Somebody can be talking the talk, and then they can [do something differently with their body]… It’s all about what the actor actually does. It’s how she says it, why she says it. I mean, there are so many different aspects of it. And then, when you’re actually doing the scene, sometimes things happen spontaneously, that it creates itself.
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