Christopher Robin shows what life is like now for the young boy who grew up and left behind the stuffed animal friends he shared countless adventures with in the Hundred Acre Wood. As an efficiency manager at Winslow Luggage, Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) spends more hours in the office than with his own family (Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael), who are growing tired of his broken promises, prompting Winnie the Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings), Eeyore (voiced by Brad Garrett), Piglet (voiced by Nick Mohammed) and Tigger (also voiced by Cummings) to leave the Hundred Acre Wood for the first time, on a mission to remind their old friend of the endless days of wonder and make-believe that defined his childhood.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor Brad Garrett talked about why he was so excited and grateful to get to voice Eeyore, finding his inner Eeyore for the recording process, balancing the endearing melancholy of the character, what he thought of the look of his Eeyore, what he looks for in a project, the appeal of his upcoming ABC comedy series Single Parents, and why it’s important to take the time to do what we love with the people that we love.
Collider: I have to say that I absolutely loved this movie!
BRAD GARRETT: Nice!
I also pretty much cried every time the characters spoke because I adore them so much.
GARRETT: Did you? Oh, my goodness! Thank you so much.
When the possibility of voicing Eeyore came your way, what was your reaction? Was it something you were immediately excited about, or were you nervous and scared about doing that?
GARRETT: You know, I was so excited and so immediately grateful. I grew up a huge fan of animation. I still am. That was my safe place, as a kid. I loved getting lost in these stories and I always loved animation. Eeyore is something so iconic, and someone I’ve been compared to. There was a lot of Eeyore in my Everybody Loves Raymond character. I loved it. And many, many years ago – almost 30 years ago – I had the opportunity to voice him in a TV special for Disney. It was happening at the same time that I started to get busy as a stand-up, and I remember how excited I was, but then I got this stand-up tour that I had to go on and it got in the way of me recording Eeyore. It was one of the things where I was like, “Oh, gosh, this is really a drag!” And then, when it came around again, all these years later, I was just really, really excited. I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve done a few voices, but there’s only one Eeyore. It was a blast!
What was the key to finding your inner Eeyore, when you were voicing the character?
GARRETT: It’s funny, I’m in a place in my life where I’m looking at where the world is, and I think Eeyore is a reflection of how a lot of people are thinking in this very odd world that we’re living in right now. It’s a very divisive time that we’re living in. I think people feel put-upon and manipulated more than ever. Being a comic, we’re a glass-half-empty people. We just are. If we were glass-half-full people, we wouldn’t be funny. Comically, I come from that place. I felt a real responsibility when it came to voicing Eeyore. They handed me this iconic, internationally-loved character and I thought, “What can I bring to it? How do I stay true to it?” That’s where the director, Marc [Forster], who is brilliant, really, really helped. We wanted to keep him in that register. He has that monotone thing to it, but we also wanted to make it a little more human. He really helped me with that, greatly, as far as giving me direction that kept Eeyore a little more hopeful and a little more excited to be in London. This is the first time that these characters have left the Hundred Acre Wood, so what does that do for them? I wanted to take little points, here and there, while staying true to the character. Maybe Eeyore is a little excited to be on this adventure, or feels a little responsible having to hold these very important papers, but at the end of the day, he’s got to be Eeyore.
Eeyore is a little bit sarcastic and he likes to wallow in misery a little bit, but he has this endearing melancholy to him. Is that a difficult thing to balance?
GARRETT: Yes, it is. I love sarcasm. That’s very much in my wheelhouse. But how do you be sarcastic and not be too bitter? It’s these fine lines. You almost have to create it, where he’s succumbed to the fact that it’s always going to rain for him. He’s not angry about it. He’s not bitter about it. He’s just prepared. And I love rain, personally, so that helps.