When it comes to careers, Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman couldn't have had more different paths to success. One is, for all intents and purposes, a revamped Disney princess on a highly rated network show, and the other is a former child actor who rebooted his career to much critical acclaim in his adulthood. Yet, when it comes to their voice roles as bunny police officer Judy Hopps and sly fox Nick Wilde, respectively, in the upcoming Disney Animation film "Zootopia," in theaters March 4, the two actors couldn't be more in sync.
To both actors, the film resonated with them as new voice actors and as parents (Goodwin has an almost 2-year-old son with Josh Dallas, and is currently expecting their second child; Bateman is a father of two daughters, 9-year-old Francesca and 4-year-old Maple). "Zootopia" explores themes such as stereotyping, racism (or is it species-ism?) and overcoming our fears.
We had a chance to sit down with Bateman and Goodwin (she joined us via Skype) at the film's recent press day in Orlando, where the actors talked about keeping their kids' imaginations alive and not becoming fearful parents.
Ginnifer, has your son Oliver seen the movie, and does he know that (character Judy Hopps) is your voice?
Ginnifer Goodwin: He hasn't seen it, and we only recently decided that we're not going to let him see it for a long time—but not for reasons that we expected.
We realized, Oliver thinks that Winnie the Pooh is real. Not only does he think that the animated Winnie the Pooh is real, but he, of course, because he's almost 2, thinks that the Winnie the Pooh that he met at Disneyland last month is the same exact Winnie the Pooh that was onscreen. We don't want to shatter the illusion that he's not. I'm just terrified that he would see "Zootopia," and he's a smart kid, and he would say, "That sounds an awful lot like Mommy." So I'm going to keep that from him as long as possible.
Jason, "Zootopia" is different from your previous work mainly because we can all bring our families to this one. How do you go into a role like this as a dad? Do you have a different mindset?
Jason Bateman: It's very, very cool to be leaving home to do a job that I can prove that I was actually doing. I have two little girls, 9 and 4, and knowing that they are going to see it, it gives you pride. In ["Zootopia"], there are some really great issues and themes. I don't know if my 9-year-old really picks up on some of the nuance and sophistication of these heady, highbrow issues in here yet, but I'll bet you some of it kind of permeates. And when the coin finally does drop, maybe when she's another year older or something, when we're watching it for the 20th time at home, it's a nice tool for me as a dad to talk about racism or xenophobia or fear mongering or bullying. It's a nice tool for me as a parent.
The only kind of peace that I can give myself is that I'm confident that she'll know how to make good decisions. — Jason Bateman
Has becoming a parent affected what kind of roles you take on?
Ginnifer Goodwin: Absolutely. I never desperately wanted to have children. It wasn't something that I really consciously thought about, and I hit 30 and suddenly realized this is something that is not just something that I want. That it is going to be unacceptable, for me, to go through life without children. This is something that I must have for myself.
I hadn't really made much of anything that a kid of mine would be able to see at a young age, and so I know that that affected my decision to take "Once Upon a Time," which then led to Tinker Bell and my first, real experience doing an extensive amount of voice work for animation. "Zootopia" was a no-brainer, but it definitely changed the kind of entertainment that I want to do. That's not to say that I don't want to go back, because I do want to explore darker things again, but I love that I have this now as part of my career.
As a parent, do find yourself ever relating to Judy's fearful mom and dad, Mr. and Mrs. Hopps?
Jason Bateman: If you mean the fact that they're concerned for their daughter going to the big city, yeah, I mean, of course. Although, if you're like me, you hope and pray that you're not going to be the kind of parent that when they are allowed to—and should—leave the house, that you are going to be paralyzed with this fear that, "Ugh. I'm really trying to be OK with the fact that I can't keep her in a bubble and I can't control her her whole life." And so, the only kind of peace that I can give myself is that I'm confident that she'll know how to make good decisions, so that's my job. I will keep working hard to build her as good a car as possible so she can drive through it OK.