Kathryn Beaumont, the voice of Wendy Darling, talks Peter Pan, debuting on Diamond Editon Blu-ray February 5
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has delved into its vault to bring back another one of their most cherished films for a whole new generation to enjoy. The studio is releasing the Diamond Edition version of Peter Pan on three-disc Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray/DVD for the first time, to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of this animated classic on February 5.
I recently had the privilege of speaking with actress Kathryn Beaumont, who provides both the voice of Wendy Darling and served as the live action model for the character. Take a look at what she had to say about this timeless animated adventure for the whole family.
Kathryn Beaumont: The animated process does take a lot longer, so my participation in that role took about two years. When I worked as Wendy in Peter Pan, that was another two years. Basically, I was there for four years. When Alice in Wonderland was in production, they were already getting everything together for their next feature, which was Peter Pan. They were rolling right from one to the other story. Walt (Disney) really liked the way that I worked in the role of Alice, but, also, there were other things there, such as the British accent. Also, Wendy was close to adolescence, and I was getting to about the same point, at the same time. Everything seemed to just fit right into place, which was wonderful for me, because I got to do the role and stay at the studio for a little bit longer.
In that time, did the process for you evolve or change, in any drastic way? Was it still the same kind of techniques?
Kathryn Beaumont: Yeah, it was an easy flow, right from one to another. My role didn't involve as much time as the Alice role, because Alice was in every scene. I was on call continuously, whereas, with the role of Wendy, she's more of a supporting character. There weren't as many calls where I needed to be at work. It was a little more relaxed, in that sense. The other difference was, when we went to do live-action, there was a scene at home with the parents, then one with the brothers, then later on with the Lost Boys and, or course, Peter Pan. I was doing my roles with other human beings. For Alice in Wonderland, except for maybe the tea party sequence, they were all with animals (Laughs) or other kinds of characters. It was all fancy. I didn't really have anybody in particular to play against. So, this time, it was the human responses that made it more dynamic, and I enjoyed that as well. That was the big difference.
Was it just a big open room that you were all playing in?
Kathryn Beaumont: Yeah. When we did the recording, there was a sound stage and it was fairly large, because it also had room for an orchestra to work in. It was a pretty big stage, so they would section it off with these doors that made it smaller, because otherwise we'd have an echo sound. There was a standing microphone and you and the person you were playing along with would be around the microphone, or they would group you around the microphone, but we were all there together. We would talk about the scene, and they would interpret the lines in different ways, so my reaction would obviously be different. Basically, I was trying to figure out what the reaction would be to something that's out there, that really wasn't there.
That's one of the challenges that actors have to face now with CGI.
Kathryn Beaumont: Oh my gosh, yes. Absolutely. We've gone right full circle. It's the same thing, only in a different way.
At the age you were doing these movies, what kind of sense did you have about how important these stories might be in the future?
Kathryn Beaumont: Well, I didn't, in terms of how it would have a life. I think I became quite aware of this creative team, and the atmosphere at the studio, and yet, everybody just loved what they were doing. They allowed me to go to the storyboard conferences, so I would sit there and absorb what was going on. I was learning a process, how the story or the sequences were going to be developed, how they made changes along the way, and how that actually came about. The director would go through the storyboards and would ask if anyone had questions. Hands would go up and someone would say, 'Should we change this spot here?' You were listening to how the other animators were interpreting and making changes to the scene, and new nuances would come out. The script then came after, where they actually typed the script, what came out of the storyboards. I was in all that, so I was learning the process, but I was also watching the creativity, because I would see how it all came together, and how talented these writers and these animators were, to create these stories that had become such classics. I was kind of aware of it, at an early age.
Going back to the live-action work you did with these other kids, were they all the other voice actors? I know you did both the voice and live-action, but were there others who did both? Or was it a completely separate group?
Kathryn Beaumont: Today, I believe, everything is done separately. You go in, put your earphones on, and you listen to the other voice, and react to that. When I was working, everybody was together. We were at the mic, but Michael (Tommy Luske) had to be done differently. John (Paul Collins) and I were together, and the mother and dad were at another microphone. They did their lines, and we did ours, but we could see each other, and that's what made it dynamic. Each take was a little different. Michael was too young to read. He was five, and he happened to be Hans Luske's son, by the way. Hans Luske was one of the animators and directors. He directed quite a few of the scenes I was in. Anyway, they would give Michael the line, and he would repeat it. That's how his character was voiced, so that was done in a whole new way.
What would you like to say to fans of this classic about why they should revisit it on this wonderful Blu-ray edition starting February 5?
Kathryn Beaumont: I suppose this particular time, it is on Blu-ray and it is going to be enhanced visually, the wonderful art of Disney. If you're kind of aware already, of the art, this should be another wonderful experience. It's also another wonderful experience to go back and watch this great story again, because each time you watch it, you pick up something you may have forgotten before, or a nuance, or something that was really funny and clever that the artists worked out, as a part of the character. There is always something to enjoy in these marvelous stories.
Great. That's my time. Thanks so much, Kathryn. It was great to speak to you again.
Kathryn Beaumont: Nice to talk to you too.