Exclusive: Kerry Washington Talks Cars 3

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Exclusive: Kerry Washington Talks Cars 3
Posted by Wilson Morales

June 14, 2017

Coming out this week from Disney•Pixar is the upcoming Cars 3, which features the return of Owen Wilson as the voice of Lightning McQueen, Larry the Cable Guy as Mater, Bonnie Hunt as Sally Carrera, and Cheech Marin as Ramone. There’s also some brand-new characters, including Jackson Storm (voiced by Armie Hammer) and Cruz Ramirez (voiced by Cristela Alonzo). They are joined by Kerry Washington, Nathan Fillion and Lea DeLaria. NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon, Richard Petty, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suárez and Bubba Wallace will lend their voices as well.

Directed by Brian Fee (storyboard artist for Cars and Cars 2), Disney•Pixar‘s Cars 3 begins when, blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez, with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage!

For Washington, who’s best known these days at Olivia Pope on ABC’s hit series Scandal, this was a chance to be part of franchise that she’s actually seen and loved for years. With Scandal set to air its final season next year, Washington has already venturing in the producing side. She starred and executive produced HBO’s Conviction and will have more projects coming down the road.

Blackfilm.com recently spoke with Washington about being in Cars 3 and her next phase in the entertainment field.

So, you’re back on the big screen playing an animated voice. Talk to me, how this came about for you?

Kerry Washington: They called and said that there was a role in movie for me to play a smarty-pants, know-it-all, bossy character and I said, “Oh, so you want me to play against-type?” and I was able to dig deep and find the character somehow. I thought it would be a lot of fun.

Who is Natalie Certain?

Kerry Washington: Natalie Certain is a car. She’s a statistician so she’s kind of one of you guys. She’s a reporter, analytic, talking-head who knows all the stats for all of the different racing cars.

How much of a fan have you been of the franchise? Had you seen the previous two films when it came out in theaters?

Kerry Washington: Yeah, I’ve been a fan of this franchise from the beginning so people keep asking me if I did the movie because I’m a mom and I’m like no, I did the movie because I’m still a big kid. I really, from 11 years ago when the first Cars came out, I have loved this franchise.

When they told you you were going to be a car did you have a choice as far as what color car you wanted it to be?

Kerry Washington: No, no. It’s a very interesting process where they already have a lot of the drawings in place and then they get inspired by the voice and then you get inspired by the drawings and it’s a cyclical creative process so it’s really fun. But the animators, they picked her color, they picked her style, which is sort of Tesla-like, which I loved as somebody who drives a hybrid. It’s just been fun to be a part of the process.

When people do animated voices they do something for their voices depending on what the story is or what the film’s about. I guess, for a movie like this, was it just a matter of going in the booth and just reading the lines?

Kerry Washington: I would never say it’s that simple. You’ll see, a lot of people, you bring what you think is the character to the voice of the character. The use of voice is always a part of the development of character whether I’m playing Olivia Pope or Anita Hill or Natalie Certain. I’m always gunna adjust my voice according to who I think the character is and how they speak, how they articulate.

Was it a matter of you staying where you’re at and going to a booth somewhere? A studio booth?

Kerry Washington: No, no. I would have to go to Disney’s Sound Studios. Yeah. Traveled around.

When people think of three films of a franchise whether it’s animated, or whether it’s a feature film, what’s a good reason for people to start catching up on the previous of these two films to see this one?

Kerry Washington: I have to say it’s really a stand-alone film. If you haven’t seen the first two you don’t need to see 3. 3 is completely enjoyable; although, I’ve been a fan from the beginning, I actually watched the film with my daughter and my mother. Neither of them had seen 1 or 2 and we all really, really loved the film so I was really impressed that a film could capture the heart and imagination of somebody in the single digits all the way to somebody in their 70s. We all really, really loved it. But also that they hadn’t seen the other two and it didn’t matter. They were completely in, completely engaged and now I’ll go back and watch the first two with my daughter.

Was yesterday the first time you met the entire cast?

Kerry Washington: No. I’d met a lot of them before either in other press situations, yeah. Some of them I hadn’t met before but a lot of them I had.

When you’re doing Scandal, that takes a lot of your time, what goes into deciding to do this or any other project film-wise?

Kerry Washington: Really, do I love it? As a producer, I’m really careful about my time outside of Scandal. Last year, when I produced and starred in Confirmation, obviously it took a huge amount of time to be able to produce and star in that film and I knew I wanted to do another film for this hiatus. Because I was also giving birth to my son this fall I didn’t think I had time to produce something that I would star in on this hiatus so it was great to be able to be part of a project that I loved and respected where I wasn’t in a producer’s role. The company has been really working hard over the last year to set up projects on the film and TV side, some of which I’m in and some of which I’m not so we’ve been really busy and I’m finding that the producing side, I’m much more in-love with it than I thought I would be.

Is that the avenue you’re going to start to take? Producing and maybe starring in it? Or just producing by itself?

Kerry Washington: Like I said, the projects right now are about 50/50. Half of them are projects that I’m attached to acting and half of them are not because I really love both.

Are you starting to think now that we have an end date for Scandal what the next few years is going to be like?

Kerry Washington: I’m really busy on the TV and film side with stuff. Some of which is for me and some of which isn’t but I would be doing that as I have been for the last couple of years with Confirmation and other stuff. I’d be doing that whether the show was going on or not. I’ll just have more time to play other roles as an actor but the producing side will continue to flourish, as it has been, because it’s been really fulfilling and enjoyable for me.

Going back to Cars, besides your scenes, was there any particular scene that stood out that you watched that people would enjoy?

Kerry Washington: I don’t want to have any spoilers but I found myself actually cheering at the end of the film. Really rooting for the winners, as they were. I really was more caught up in the story than I thought I would be, which was exciting.

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