'Brave's' Kevin McKidd On Speaking In Doric, His New Album 'The Speyside Sessions' & Getting Scolded By Mum
Kevin McKidd may live in the sun-soaked city of Los Angeles now, but he's still bursting with Scottish pride.
The "Grey's Anatomy" actor, and Scotland-native, not only stars in Disney Pixar upcoming Scottish epic "Brave," but also recently released The Speyside Sessions, a collection of traditional Scottish songs that he refers to as a "love letter to Scotland."
Recorded over the course of one week, McKidd, together with diverse cast of players and vocalists, recorded over two dozen traditional Scottish folk songs. The entire "community record," as McKidd describes it, was recorded in a house in the Scottish Highlands. All profits from The Speyside Sessions will go to the charity, Save The Children.
In an interview with HuffPost Entertainment, McKidd talked about the recording process -- in which his experience on "Grey's Anatomy" came in useful -- that awkward moment when his "mum" chastised him (and all of his friends) for being slobs, and the secret behind Young MacGuffin's seemingly unintelligible accent in "Brave."
Tell me about the album. You've said that it was inspired by your grandfather.
He was the original inspiration for it. My grandfather, George Runcie, was a very colorful character. He was renowned for being a great singer of old, Scottish folk songs. He'd sing all of these songs to me when I was a boy, and I always vowed that before he passed away, I was going to record them or document what he did. He passed away before I got the chance to do that, so that was a real regret of mine.
And then you decided to record it all together in the same house.
My best friend growing up, Jamie Reid, and I thought up the idea while I was back home. I realized that while I was becoming an actor, I had all of these friends of mine who were becoming great folk musicians. Jamie and I decided to hire a house for about a week, go up there and record. We sent out emails to everybody and ask them to send us their list of their 10 favorite Scottish folk songs. From there, Jamie and I came up with a final list. That was it! We went to the house, and it was this amazing, magical week. We were all cooking food, and living together and making music together. It's a community album; it's certainly not my album. I play guitar on all of the songs, but I only sing the lead vocal on four of the songs.
Was it kind of like a frat house?
It kind of did! A lot of the time it felt like a big frat house. All of us were meant to share the cooking and the cleaning in the house, but a lot of musicians are known as being quite lazy people, so my mum storms in to the middle of the recording and stops everyone, saying that nobody was pulling their weight. She was like, "I'm not your slave!" In that moment, we all felt like 10-year-old boys being chastised by mum. But that was all a part of the fun.
Oh yeah, getting yelled at by your mom is always fun.
It wasn't just me! It was all of us!
You mention how much your grandfather's music affected you as a child, so were your children there during the recording?
They were there. It really meant a lot to me to have them there, and I think it really rubbed off on my son. The minute we got back to Los Angeles, he called his friends and they started up their own little band. They're rehearsing right now, but they're doing more, like, Green Day songs [laughs]. I feel pretty good about that.
There's still time to convince your son to play folk music.
He will one day, for sure. I understand. I was in a rock 'n' roll band when I was a teenager. It's a natural progression. That's part of the tradition of Scottish folk music. It's an oral tradition that's passed down from one generation to the next.
You're the lead singer on the last track of the album, "For These Are My Mountains," and the song seemed to mirror your life as a actor coming back to Scotland.
That song is the one song out of all the songs that isn't an old song. It was actually written by an actor in the 1950's. There's a lot of cheesy versions of that song, with bagpipes and all that, but there's a lot of soul at the heart of that song. I think we managed to succeed in doing a version that captures the spirit of what that song is about. It's the same feelings that I have about what I've done and where I've gone. Maybe what you had isn't so bad.
Did your experience singing on the "Grey's Anatomy" musical episode help you during the recording session?
I think it did actually! It taught me a lot about the discipline of recording and not being microphone shy, which we call the red light fever. It definitely helped me get over that.
I really hope that Owen comes back for Season 9 with a newfound appreciation for Scotland and folk music.
I'm sure he will. Suddenly, Owen will be wearing tartan all over the place. He'll be wearing tartan ties I'm sure.
Is it going to be hard for you to get back into character?
It probably will be. I pretty much strictly in a Scottish mode at the moment. It might take me a few takes to get back into that American accent.
I saw "Brave" recently, and it made me want to go to Scotland.
It really is a love letter to Scotland. I think the filmmakers fell in love with Scotland, and you can see that in every frame of the movie. It gives you a yearning for something. It's the same feeling that we had when we were recording the album.
The first thing I did after watching the film was call my mom. Did you have the same reaction?
Oh yeah, it's a great mother/daughter story, which I think is going to resonate with a lot of parents and kids. There's this struggle between the younger generation, thinking that they know everything and having their own passion and drive in life. They don't want to listen to the older generation, and the older generation is too stubborn to listen to the young. In the end, both sides realize that they need to give a little to find the best path. It's about both the young and the old realizing that maybe they don't know the whole picture.
You voice two characters in the film, Lord MacGuffin and Young MacGuffin. I really hope that you grow out your mustache like that.
I'm working on it right now! It's getting there.
When I saw the film, I thought that Young MacGuffin was speaking complete gibberish. I had no idea that this was a actual Scottish dialect.
Yeah, it's actually a dialect from Elgin, my hometown. My grandfather spoke it fluently. It's called the Doric. It's an old farming dialect from the North East of Scotland, and it's absolutely authentic, even though it seems completely made up. People in the North East of Scotland will be the only people on the planet who understand what Young MacGuffin is saying. I feel very proud that I've managed to get this very unusual, niche dialect that not many people know of into a Disney movie. It's the dialect of my upbringing. I feel pretty chuffed with that.
Did you have to stick to the script or did you try and sneak any secret messages into the film?
No, they gave me the lines that I needed to say. Sometimes I had to call my mum at 2 a.m. and ask, "How do you say this in Doric?," and she would translate it for me. So with a lot of help from her and her tutelage, I translated whatever sentences they wanted me to say in Doric.
So sadly, no secret messages?
No, no I wouldn't do that. That would be terrible. Of course not! Well, maybe [laughs].
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - Like his "Brave" co-star Kelly Macdonald, Kevin McKidd was first introduced to most viewers in Danny Boyle's "Trainspotting" and, also like Macdonald, McKidd makes his primary living covering up his native Scottish accent for a successful television show.
On ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," McKidd plays tightly wound, periodically traumatized, entirely American Owen Hunt. Emotional repression aside, it's a strong role for McKidd, but when we sat down at Edinburgh's Balmoral Hotel for the junket for "Brave," he admitted how fun it is to just let loose in the recording booth.
In "Brave," McKidd plays Scottish clan leader Lord MacGuffin, as well as his seemingly dim-witted son, one of three suitors to Macdonald's Merida. On the surface, Young MacGuffin seems to almost completely incoherent, but as McKidd explains, the character is actually speaking a specific dialect that runs in the actor's bloodlines.
Neither role is huge, but McKidd told me that he's been working on "Brave" for four years, a project that he compares to being a secret agent.
[We also discussed "Grey's Anatomy" just a wee bit and what that conversation isn't in the "Brave"-centric interview above, it's excerpted below!]
Hopefully you've already watched my interview with the charming Kelly MacDonald. And stay tuned over the next couple days for my conversations with Pixar chief John Lasseter and with "Brave" director Mark Andrews & producer Katherine Sarafian. And yes, I'm still planning on posting the embarrassing video of my archery attempts in Scotland.
As a working actor, Kevin McKidd's performed in everything from 'Trainspotting" to 'Grey's Anatomy"; in Disney/Pixar's "Brave," the Scottish actor gets to voice not one but two roles -- that of Lord MacGuffin and the thickly-accented, incomprehensible MacGuffin the younger. We spoke with McKidd in Edinburgh about heritage, hilarity, and acting for animation.
MSN Movies: I can imagine as a working Scots actor a director will say now and then, "Can you bring down the accent a little bit?" This time did they say, "Just roll the R's and round off everything?"
Kevin McKidd: Oh, yeah. They were the ones saying "More, more, more. Make it bigger, make it bigger, make it bigger," which was great. Most of the time in the roles I do have to be quite minimal and kind of very precise. I just got to scream and shout and act like a crazy Scotsman, which is kind of what I am in real life. It was great.
The younger MacGuffin speaks in this very thick dialect, which is a Doric dialect from where you grew up.
Yes, it is. From the area of the Northeast of Scotland, they have a dialect called Doric, which is quite hard to understand. It's almost Nordic. Its got a very Nordic sound to it. My grandfather spoke it. Many people up there speak it. They wanted Lord MacGuffin to be unintelligible as kind of a comedy element of the film. Instead of making up nonsense words, I suggested to them that we listen to this dialect, and they listened to it, and they thought about it, and I started to do some of the lines, and they started to laugh, because I couldn't understand what the hell I was talking about. It stuck. So I was proud that I was able to get my home dialect from my home area into a Pixar movie.
Does it feel weird to turn your hometown heritage into hilarity?
Oh, no. They'll be delighted I think. I think it's going to be a lot of fun for people in my hometown. I think don't think we're going to be seeing much Doric. There's not going to be a flood of Doric movies after this, sadly.
You feel like the world Box Office isn't sitting on the edge of its seat waiting for more Doric?
I'm not sure if the Doric dollar is a big dollar.
When you're doing a film like this, and its all vocal-work, but you're doing these battle scenes and fighting sequences, how much do you physicalize it?
Oh, you jump around like a complete idiot. I'm sure somebody has a videotape of us all in a booth jumping around. You feel ridiculous, but you're kind of just like a kid in a sound pit at that point. It’s a little joy to do that stuff, because you can just make a fool of yourself and not care, because you're not actually on screen, you know.
When you're doing the battle stuff do they have a load of like Nerf swords around?
They should have! They don't actually. I had my pencil. I just got to wave my pencil around and all that stuff.
Technically, it is mightier than the sword. Obviously, this is a very idealized representation of an era in Scottish history, but does it still feel good to see those expanses rendered so lovingly in computer-generation of animation?
Yeah, when you look at the landscapes, it's just kind of ravishing. You can't really improve on Scotland unless you're Pixar. They've taken all of the best bits of Scotland and thrown it into this movie. They've been very respectful. Even though it is a fantasy, it’s a fairytale portion of Scotland essentially, but they've really caught the essence of the wild, fun, warm, crazy Scottish people. I think they've kind of fallen in love with Scotland. Its kind of a love letter to Scotland this film.
It's well established that there are few things funnier to an American audience than a good hearty Scottish accent. It just makes everything funnier. Why is the inverse not true?
I don't know. I don't know. Maybe you should try it. Have you done that?
I think Scottish people are just much nicer than we are.
Under the Kilt: 'Brave's' Voice Actors Get Authentic on Pixar Movie
Few things annoy the Scots more than hearing non-native speakers mangling their language.
“People’s ears are much more attuned to authenticity in accents,” says Glasgow native Craig Ferguson, host of CBS’ “Late Late Show.”
Ferguson is one of a handful of Scottish performers tapped by Pixar to provide their voices in the latest animated feature “Brave,” a colorful action adventure set in medieval Scotland. He gives voice to Lord Macintosh, the off-kilter leader of a royal highland clan, who wants his son to win the hand of the lovely Princess Merida.
Ferguson quips that he wasn’t asked to perform the role so much as he was “summoned” by the respected animation house that has produced such award-winning hits as “Toy Story,” “The Incredibles” and “Up.”
“Pixar requires you (to do this) and you go, otherwise you’re a fool,” he says. “That’s kind of what happens. They’ve earned that right by what they’ve done. It gives you a special feeling, Realizing what these people have done, trusting that they will do it again, that’s really it. There’s trust involved.”
Besides, says the veteran funnyman, “if you’re going to make a film about Scotland, I think it’s probably a good idea to have Scottish people in it.”
Prior to the film’s world premiere, Ferguson was joined by cast mates Kelly Macdonald, who provides the voice of Merida, a strong-willed Scottish princess who desires nothing more than to control her own destiny, and Kevin McKidd (of “Grey’s Anatomy” fame), who gives voice to two characters: Lord MacGuffin, leader of a Scottish clan and Young MacGuffin, his nearly incomprehensible son, to talk about playing their characters and taking pride in being part of animation history.
Q: Do you feel gratified that this is a cast of people mostly doing their own accents?
Craig Ferguson: I think it’s a sign of the times. I think the world is different from the way it was 20 or 30 years ago when regional accents were a very exotic and odd thing.
Kelly Macdonald: What’s interesting, though, is I’m Scottish and I’ve read things that say I’ve got a terrible Scottish accent.
Q: Being Scottish, did you make any suggestions to the animators about your characters?
Ferguson: The film was pretty well formed by the time I joined it. The story was pretty much set. I think they just wanted us to bring our voices. They were very much open. They’d say, “This is the line of dialogue” and we’d say, “Yeah, but it would be more natural if…” or “A Scottish person would say it more like this,” or “It would be funnier if we said it like this.” So they were very open to us changing things and giving us different options.
Macdonald: I think the filmmakers have seen more of Scotland than I have.
Q: Kevin, how did you go about developing the voices for your characters?
Kevin McKidd: I started out just doing Young MacGuffin. It took us a while because we wanted Young MacGuffin to have a voice that nobody could understand because his accent is so thick. So we started messing about with that, making up words and that didn’t seem to work so I suggested this dialect from (the Scottish highlands around Inverness) called Doric. My grandfather spoke it, and it’s a very thick, almost Norwegian-style dialect that’s quite strange, Then, they offered me Lord MacGuffin, the older MacGuffin character, the dad, and we started doing sessions where I’d do both at the same time and I ended up meeting somewhere in the middle. To avoid confusion, I’d do Lord MacGuffin first thing in the morning when I’d just woken and my voice was low. After lunch, we’d do young MacGuffin.
Q: Where did you draw your inspiration for the characters?
McKidd: I basically channeled my dad for Lord MacGuffin because he’s grumpy and old and I channeled myself as a young boy for young MacGuffin. I was a very painfully shy boy. That’s why I became an actor.
Q: Craig, can you contrast this voiceover experience with doing the voice of Gobbler in “How to Train Your Dragon?” Were they different or the same?
Ferguson: It’s a different person so that’s different. But the technique of doing it is much the same. It’s not the biggest stretch in the world to go from one Scottish speaking character to another Scottish speaking character, but I assume that’s why they asked me to do it. The contrast was the personalities of the characters involved.
Q: Is it more fun to do animated characters than perform live-action roles?
Macdonald: This is my first.
Ferguson: It’s good for me because I’m not a very good actor. I’m pretty good with voices, though. Plus, I have a day job so I can’t go and make a (live-action) film. What I like about it is that you’re not limited by who you are physically. Both Kevin and I have done radio work in Scotland, and doing voiceover work is very similar.
Q: Did any of you have an opportunity to record together?
McKidd: No, we were all in different areas of the country and parts of the world. It was a shame but I think Katharine (Serafian, the producer), said that if we were all in the same room, we would never have gotten any work done. It was a shame we didn’t get a chance to do sessions together, though.
Macdonald: I think it’s the norm to (record) on your own.
Q: So how was working solo then?
Ferguson: It’s nice because while you’re doing it, you can close your eyes and see the film in your head and just participate in it. The interesting thing with this is when I saw the film, it was better than what I imagined, which means Pixar is better than me at making animated films.
Q: Kelly, how did you feel when you knew you would be the first female Pixar protagonist?
Macdonald: Attention to detail is not my strong point so it took me a while to get that. I’m kind of glad I didn’t know it while I was recording my part. It’ would have been a lot of pressure. But I don’t think I’ve watched a Pixar movie and felt robbed that there wasn’t a female protagonist. They’ve make films about fish and toys and robots and there are some very strong female characters in those films, in “The Incredibles” and “Toy Story,” so I never felt like I was missing out but I feel very privileged having said that.
Q: Is there a Scottish network in Hollywood? Do you guys get together?
With Pixar’s Brave opening this weekend, Disney recently held a press junket in Scotland where I got to interview some of the cast and filmmakers. The film centers on Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), a young girl who accidentally sets loose an evil curse when she wishes for the freedom to escape her restrictive life. But the big news about Brave is that it’s Pixar’s first film with a female protagonist and their first fairy tale. I would imagine it won’t be their last. Brave also features the voices of Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane, and Julie Walters. For more on Brave, here’s all our previous coverage and four clips.
During my interview with Kevin McKidd we talked about how the film changed over the long development process,what surprised him about the recording process, his reaction to the finished film, what people should do if they visit Scotland, and how he’s recorded an album of traditional Scottish folk music, and a lot more. Hit the jump to watch.
Kevin McKidd •I start the interview off by saying how much I loved NBC’s Journeyman and HBO’s Rome •How did his friends and family react when he told them he would be a voice in a Pixar film •What surprised him the most about the recording process •How did the film change during the recording process •What was his reaction when he saw the finished film •If people were to visit Scotland for one day what does he recommend doing •Talks about what he has coming up like the next season of Grey’s Anatomy and how he’s recorded an album of traditional Scottish folk music
THE MOVIELINE INTERVIEW || BY: JEN YAMATO || JUNE 22, 2012 08:00 PM EDT Kevin McKidd on Scottish Roots, Brave Accents, Grey’s Anatomy and His Brush with John Carter
Among the many familiar faces in Disney-Pixar’s Brave – or familiar voices, rather – is actor Kevin McKidd, who joins fellow Scots Kelly MacDonald, Billy Connolly, Craig Ferguson, and Robbie Coltrane in bringing the tale of a 10th century princess to life in colorful detail. Earlier this week, Movieline spoke with the transplanted McKidd about his beloved home country, his Brave brogue, and the breakthrough moments in a career spanning his early turn in Trainspotting to his current gig on Grey’s Anatomy.
Tapped for Brave, McKidd (who also lends his voice to the popular Call of Duty: Modern Warfare video games) contributed not one, but two voices to the animated adventure: He voices the honor-bound Lord MacGuffin, one of three battle-happy noblemen in King Fergus’s domain, and the lord’s awkward son Young MacGuffin, a bashful would-be suitor prodded to vie for the hand of the headstrong Princess Merida (MacDonald).
For the role of Young MacGuffin, the Elgin, Scotland native offered his own solution to a stumped Pixar’s filmmaking crew searching to find the right unintelligible accent for the character. McKidd shared that and more with Movieline, discussing the post-Trainspotting “lean years,” the TV roles on Journeyman, Grey’s Anatomy, and HBO’s Rome that established him Stateside, his brush with Disney's John Carter, and how the one-time engineering student forged his own path, a la Brave, to embark on his acting career: “There’s no point living unless you’re actually following the path you feel you should be on, you know?”
I’ve never been to Scotland. You have obviously been, a few times. How could you not go to Scotland? It’s beautiful. You should go! Go now! Go today!
Okay, I’ll just go right after this! But tell me, from your perspective having grown up there, how well do you feel Brave captures the feel and the spirit and the culture of the place you’re from? I think it really captures it – it’s almost like they took the best parts of Scotland and stuck them in a film and put them in Photoshop, kind of improved on Scotland. I didn’t think anyone could improve on Scotland but I think Pixar did.
What are the best parts of Scotland? The glens, and the beautiful lochs… the amazing islands. I love the islands on the west coast of Scotland, they’re stunning places to visit. You take ferries from different ports to different places – the beautiful, white, sandy, clear beaches with no pollution. It’s a stunning place, but also the people are hilarious. I really miss the people. They’re your own people – or, for me, they’re my own people. And I do miss that.
There also must be such a sense of the mythic history, so rich in this place. Growing up in Scotland, surrounded by these beautiful landscapes – did you feel that sense? Yeah! There were castles near where I was from, and I’d cycle my bike out there and we’d have picnics. There’s Duffus Castle, near Elgin, so there’s definitely that kind of epic historical nature to the landscape that’s there, that’s never far away. It’s just part of your life as you grow up. And we’d have standing stones just stood around in fields, with cows walking around them, that are ancient – truly ancient
How did you come to Brave? It’s great that so much of the voice cast is actually Scottish. They just called me – they said, "We want you to be in this film!’ I said, "Who are you?" [Laughs] "Pixar!" "Pixar? I’ll do it!" And then they said it was about Scotland and I was like, brilliant! So it was a double-whammy for me, because just to be asked to be involved with Pixar is a big badge of honor. Then for the film to be about a place that I really love, was brilliant. So I didn’t even think about it for a second.
At this point it’s interesting to hear the projects that different folks recognize you from – you’ve done notable television and film work, but many people also recognize your voice from your video game work. Oh yeah, from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare! It’s huge, that game. It’s absolutely massive. And I didn’t realize how big video games are until I did them.
Did the Brave call come before or after your gaming voice work? It was during, actually. I’ve been doing the Brave movie for four years, and I did Modern Warfare 2 and 3 over the course of two years. So it was all around the same time.
Which of your works do you think inspired the Pixar folks to call you up for Brave? I don’t know! They just said, "We think you’re a really good actor and we’ve been a fan of your stuff." I think a lot of people at Pixar were very into Rome, on HBO. It was a great show. So I think that was the thing that made them go, "We’re interested…" I know that Andrew Stanton was very interested in me for John Carter, which I couldn’t do because of Grey’s Anatomy, so I think my name was around there.
Which role was it, in John Carter? I can’t remember!
Did you go as far as to actually converse with Stanton about the film? We got close to meeting, and then the studio just said, "No, we can’t release him from Grey’s, so don’t even bother." It was a shame.
It’s been interesting to follow your career all these years – the first time I saw you was in Trainspotting. Yes. That was a long time ago…
At what point do you feel like you really broke through? I think there were a couple of points, really. I think it was Rome that was the thing, because I had quite a lot of lean years after Trainspotting. I did a lot of cool work but very low budget and very indie stuff. I think it was Rome that was that game changer for me.
That was also just about the time that cable television was emerging as this fantastic medium for storytelling, and look at it now. Yes – this force! I’m still so proud to have been a part of that show, and I miss that show. I’m so happy to be on Grey’s, but there was something about Rome – it was this real boy’s own show, it was about all these male relationships and these strong female characters, and it was really just an amazing show to shoot.
Grey’s Anatomy in itself is quite a touchstone – isn’t landing that show a sign that you’ve made it? It’s kind of cool – I’m still pinching myself that I’m on that show.
I was also fond of Journeyman… I loved that show, and I miss that show. I saw Kevin Falls, the creator, yesterday – he was playing golf with his son and I was behind him. We were reminiscing, it was great! We’re still good friends. That was a brilliantly written show, Journeyman – it just didn’t get the traction it needed. It’s hard these days in the business world, in the TV world. A TV show has to be a massive hit straight away, so it was unfortunate that it didn’t last. We sat through the writer’s strike and then we thought, “crap, we’re going to have to just leave, and go back to the U.K.” – and then Shonda Rhimes called me. She said, “We want you for this show.”
You and your family were ready to go back? Yeah, we were going to go, and Shonda said, “I want you to play this guy, Owen Hunt.” I knew Grey’s was a hit, but I didn’t know much about it. But it’s been a blast ever since, and I feel very, very fortunate, to be honest. Because I’m just this guy from a village in the highlands of Scotland, you know?
Well, going back to your roots – you play not one, but two characters in Brave. The resemblance is stunning, by the way. [Laughs] Oh, thank you! I like the hairdos.
You play Lord MacGuffin and his son, two very different characters in the periphery of Merida’s kingdom. It’s interesting to see how the vocal performances come through, because some of the dialogue is so minimal. But the younger MacGuffin has a very particular accent… He does!
It’s kind of a great joke, to give him an accent so thick nobody can understand him – even other Scottish characters in the film. It works pretty well. They wanted the young MacGuffin to be completely not understandable, and they were asking my advice on how they should do it. I said, “The one thing I can suggest is, there’s a dialect from the home area that I’m from which is called the Doric, and it’s a very thick, almost Norwegian dialect that most people, even in Scotland, can’t understand.”
Can you understand it? I can understand it because I grew up with it, my grandfather spoke it. But a lot of people familiar with that area can’t understand it. So I did some for them and showed them a few YouTube clips and they were like, “Oh my god, that’s amazing! That isn’t made up?” I said, “No, it’s real!” So I feel pretty stoked that I managed to get this crazy dialect from my home area into a massive Disney film.
I love that – not to mention the fact that the character is so cute. He’s very cute. Well, he’s this shy boy, very big-boned – he’s shy like I was. I kind of channeled myself as a ten-year-old boy, because I was a painfully shy child.
When did that change for you? Probably about age 14, because then I started acting and that was the thing that drew me out of myself.
The themes that resonate strongly in Brave, aside from the fact that this is the rare female heroine who doesn’t need a love interest and gets to fight her own battles, involve the relationship between parent and child, and the idea of teenagers forging their own path in life. Do you feel that you relate to that sentiment yourself? I relate – I shouldn’t have been an actor. I should have been like a plumber, or something practical. I went to university to study engineering.
What changed? I just knew that I wasn’t going to be happy. I could feel it in my gut, I could just feel it. So I made a change. I didn’t tell anybody, but I applied to drama school in addition, and got in, and then told my family that I was going in another direction. People were really cool about it, surprisingly! I think that can be a challenge – I was expecting them to be really not happy. But I think you have to do that sometimes, you have to just follow your gut. There’s no point living unless you’re actually following the path you feel you should be on, you know?
I have noticed a nice lady of Asian descent /she was wearing glasses/, who accompanied Kevin during his interviews and while signing autographs at the Brave premiere in LA. Is she his new agent or PR manager/publicist? I have never seen her accompanying Kevin at an event. Or she could be employed by The Disney company and this could have been just one event where she was responsible for accompanying him with regard to fans and the media?
I am just curious I see CO everywhere. ;D I can´t help myself.
ROBBIE COLTRANE and Kevin McKidd are swapping their best Sir Sean Connery impressions.
Robbie — who thinks he has the advantage after playing conman Valentin Zukovsky in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough — asks: “How’s your Connery?”
Kevin, 38, quips: “Better than yours, anyway.”
The pair are in good spirits as they hold court at Edinburgh’s plush Balmoral Hotel for Brave’s global press junket.
And Robbie — who’s got a reputation for being prickly during interviews — is in fine form when talk turns to his 007 hero. The 62-year-old says: “I’ve never worked with him but I know him because we keep meeting at charity events.
“He always asks, ‘How are you doing big chap?’ When I was younger, I used to think, ‘F*** me, he’s Sean Connery’.”
It’s now half a century since Sir Sean’s first appearance as James Bond in Dr No.
And Robbie adds: “Bond is still going strong and it’s such an extraordinary thing.
“I remember going to see Dr No with my dad, and my parents debating whether it was suitable for me.
“They were concerned there would be too much sex in it.” But parents definitely don’t need to worry about bonks in Brave — it’s a bona fide kids’ movie.
Elgin-born Kevin has TWO parts, playing father-and-son duo Lord and Young MacGuffin, the latter in his own Scots DORIC dialect.
Harry Potter star Robbie voices Lord Dingwall — a tubby kilt-wearer who doesn’t waste any time flashing his rear on screen.
The Hagrid actor is quick to confess he’s a true Scotsman whenever he wears our national dress.
He says: “I wore a kilt every Sunday at school. It’s not cold.
“It keeps your testicles at the exact temperature for reproducing. Trousers and underpants keep them far too warm.”
The banter continues when Robbie — who once voiced The Gruffalo in a telly film based on Julia Donaldson’s hit book — reveals his love of animated roles.
He says: “It’s quite liberating in a way really, you can sit there scratching your a***.”
The duo are delighted with how Brave has turned out and reckon it captures Scotland perfectly.
Grey’s Anatomy hunk Kevin — who also starred in TV’s swords-and-sandals epic Rome — is particularly impressed with its monster PUNCH-UP SCENE.
The kingdom’s three lords start a mass brawl in King Fergus’s castle when Princess Merida refuses to follow ancient custom and wed one of their sons.
And the scrap resembles the one started by psycho Francis Begbie (Robert Carlyle) in Trainspotting, which also starred Kevin.
He jokes: “You can’t have a film about Scotland without a fight scene!” Robbie reckons the scenes are true to life, adding: “That’s what life was like in those days — it was very, very rough.
“The Pixar guys came out here for months and sampled every castle in Scotland. I’ve got no fears from that point of view.
“I don’t think there was anything patronising... or there would’ve been words from us.
“They allowed us to throw in Scots slang too, which was great.
“There’s a ‘stooshie’ and a few ‘help ma boabs’.”
Work commitments meant the movie’s superstar cast didn’t get to do their voice parts together in the studio.
And Kevin is gutted he missed the chance to rub shoulders with comedy legend Billy Connolly two decades after The Big Yin lampooned him during a live show.
The dad of two says: “I remember 15 or 20 years ago, he did a tour of little village halls in Scotland. I was this sort of theatre rat who got to do his follow spotlight in Elgin Town Hall.
“I couldn’t keep the follow spot still because I was laughing so hard, and he started making jokes about me.
“He was saying, ‘You up there, stay still with the follow spot!’ He’s the God, the grand-daddy of Scottish comedy.”
Brave is currently top of the US box-office charts following its Stateside release last week.
And Scotland’s biggest showbiz names are hot property in Hollywood right now.
So what’s the secret?
Kevin says: “We’re cheeky.”
And Robbie jokes: “We’re incredibly talented — and cheap!”
From the hills of Hollywood comes a tale of Scottish glens that’s going to set the heather on fire, at least in terms of box office success.
Brave is the fabulous new 3D animated film from Disney Pixar, which is set in mediaeval Scotland and features the voices of a host of home-grown talent.
Having debuted at the number one slot in the US, it took more than $80million on the first weekend and when it’s released here in August, it is expected to be THE big family movie of 2012.
Glittering premieres, hosted in association with VisitScotland, took place in Edinburgh and Inverness, and among those walking the Scottish green – rather than Hollywood red – carpet were a host of home-grown stars including Elgin-born actor Kevin McKidd.
The former Elgin Academy pupil is one of Scotland’s biggest movie and television stars having appeared in films such as Trainspotting, Hanibal Rising, Kingdom of Heaven and Made of Honor.
His numerous TV credits include Father Ted, Rome, and American cult series, Grey’s Anatomy in which he plays one of the lead characters Dr Owen Hunt.
Kevin now lives in California with his wife Jane and their children Joseph and Iona, but Elgin is never far from his heart.
“I do get homesick for Elgin now and then so it’s always nice to go back there – go back to what my mum would call old clothes and porridge,” said Kevin, who brought his Moray relatives to both Scottish premieres.
“There’s nobody makes porridge, or soup, like my mum – her tattie soup is the best in the world.
“It’s always good to come back to Scotland and I’m not ruling out moving back here one day, but just now there’s too much going on in LA so it would be crazy for me to leave there right now.
“Acting is a hard business and you never know what’s going to happen one year to the next,” said Kevin, who is the first member of his family to carve out a career in the arts.
Growing up, his dad Neil worked as a plumber while his mum Kathleen was a hotel worker. The family, who now live in New Elgin, were keen for him to do well when he left Elgin Academy where he took part in the school shows.
A former member of Moray Youth Theatre Group, he originally focused on engineering, enrolling at the University of Edinburgh, but dropped out and switched to the Queen Margaret College to study drama.
Attending the Highland premiere of Brave in Inverness brought back fond memories of his pre-Hollywood days.
“I’m delighted the Highland premiere is at Eden Court as it’s here that I performed my first play, Silver Darlings, with the Wildcat Theatre Company and I’ve not been here since then,” said Kevin, who speaks Doric in the film which goes on general release in Scotland on Friday, August 3 and across the UK on August 17.
“In Brave, I provide the voice of two characters, clan leader Lord MacGuffin, who is a big bear of a character, and his son, young MacGuffin.
“He’s a sort of big guy who is kind of shy, a bit like I was at the same age.
“He wouldn’t say boo to a goose and has a very thick Doric accent, so thick nobody actually knows what he’s saying.
“I feel pretty pleased I managed to get Doric into a Disney film although I had to call my mum a couple of times for an authenticity check.
“It was fun providing the voice only for a change as it meant not putting on daft costumes or having to spend hours in make up.
“You just show up in the booth and do your performance, plus you get to overact as the voice is a big part of any animation.
“You get to be over the top and that’s a lot of fun being allowed to do that.”
As a teenager, Kevin was part of a local band Plan 9, and it is music that’s bringing this talented but modest man further success.
At the start of the year, he recorded a folk music album in Fochabers called Speyside Sessions.
“It’s very personal to me as the album was recorded with a lot of my old pals in a house near Fochabers and features music from the area,” said Kevin, an active fundraiser for Save the Children.
“All the profit goes to Save the Children so I was delighted to hear it went straight into the iTunes world music chart.
“It’s nice that folk have wanted to listen to the music, buy the album and make money for the charity.
“Although I live in LA, I do get the chance to play Scottish music quite often as a pal of mine Dan, who was at the Speyside Sessions, is into Irish music and part of the LA folk music scene which is very active.
“Every Tuesday night we get together in Timmy Noland’s pub, on Toluca Lake, where there’s an open session with bagpipe players and fiddlers.
“I play the guitar there and it’s great fun.”
TV wise, Kevin’s about to find out what happens to his Grey’s Anatomy character.
“We start back on Grey’s Anatomy in two weeks so it will be interesting to see what happens next as the series ended with a plane crash.
“It’s always exciting to see the script for the first time when you get back after the break. The series has been a runaway success – it’s unbelievable. I don’t think anyone thought it would last this long but it’s been a real blessing and a joy to be on the show.”
Interview: Robbie Coltrane and Kevin McKidd discuss Brave
Disney-Pixar’s Brave finally opens on “home” turf this week, as the year’s most Scottish film lands in cinemas from Orkney to Galashiels.
For Scottish audiences, used to hearing the accent getting mangled on screen (Brigadoon anyone?), Disney-Pixars’ decision to use Scottish actors, including Robbie Coltrane and Kevin McKidd as Lords Dingwall and MacGuffin respectively, is a welcome one.
The Lords and their sons are seen to arrive at DunBroch Castle, home of Merida (Kelly Macdonald) and her parents, King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), just before things start to go very wrong in the Kingdom.
One thing immediately noticeable in Brave is that the actors haven’t been forced to tone down their accents, at least not too much.
“They were very tolerant of us putting in Scots words people won’t have heard before, but in the context of the settings you’d understand them,” says Coltrane. “Everybody instinctively knows what ‘jings, crivvens, help ma boab’ means, even if they’ve never heard it before.”
Unlike live action roles, the actors don’t resemble their characters in Brave. Was it odd for Coltrane to voice such a small character?
“The size of the body, throat and chest size have to be right or the public won’t accept it. The guys at Pixar know exactly how to do that. It was great fun to do, we’d try different things. All the production costs go into the animation so when you’re in the studio you have all the time in the world.”
“They make you do things in many permutations,” adds McKidd. “That gives them the option to use what they want.”
The pair also visited Disney-Pixar HQ in California before recording a word of the script.
“When I first went there I thought it would just be a chat about the film, but they have this whole presentation,” notes McKidd. “They talk through every beat of the story, they show you pencil sketches and you sit there as Brenda [Chapman, Brave's co-director] talks through the entire film. They then take you to a room full of sketches, plasticine models of characters, bits of moss, a mood room.”
Chapman famously left the project early on, with new co-director Mark Andrews taking over. Did the story change much as a result?
“I don’t know that it’s changed that much,” says McKidd. “It’s a family drama, as opposed to a Princess story, it’s an adventure about this family that breaks apart and finds their way back together again. Maybe some of the details along the way, but the thrust of the story is still there.”
Though children won’t take much convincing to see Brave, adults might wonder if it’s for them. According to Coltrane, “There are a lot of good gags for grown-ups and the more times you see it, the more things you’ll see.”
“There are so many layers of complication and subtelty, which aren’t in every film, and that’s the hallmark of Pixar. I feel honoured to be part of it,” adds McKidd.
For Coltrane, once more recognisable for adult roles in the James Bond series or ITV’s Cracker, family films seem to be more prominent on his CV these days. Was that a conscious decision?
“The landscape changes when you have children,” states the actor. “I’d never have thought in the middle of Cracker that I’d be doing a family film, when I was cross-examining psychopaths. It’s just what came along. There was a lot of pressure from Jo [JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter novels] when she mentioned in print that I was the only person she would consider playing Hagrid, because she’d thought of me while writing the book.
“So then the children came and said ‘Dad, they’re making a film of Harry Potter and you’re playing Hagrid!’ and I’m going ‘Back up there, let’s see what the script’s like,’ and the script was wonderful, so that was that.”
“When you have kids, these things become attractive,” says McKidd. “You think your kids will think you’re great for once. For about an hour.”
So what does being brave mean to Coltrane and McKidd?
Coltrane illustrates his point with a quote. “An old soldier once said, ‘There are some men who have no fear and don’t make good soldiers because they get other people into trouble. A brave man is someone who knows fear and overcomes it in order to do something for the better of his or her fellows’.”
“I guess it’s following your heart,” ponders McKidd. “I was never meant to be an actor, I was meant to be a plumber like my Dad, and it’s just that, following what your heart’s saying rather than what everyone else says you should do.
“Which is what the story of the film is all about.”
Disney Pixar’s Brave opens in Scottish cinemas of 3 August and in the rest of the UK on 17 August.
BRAVE Interview: Robbie Coltrane and Kevin McKidd talk accents, profanity and spears in the eye
Back in June, as the 66th Edinburgh International Film Festival was coming to a close, HeyUGuys sat down with two of the stars of the festival’s highly anticipated closing film, Pixar’s Brave.
In a quiet conference room on the second floor of Edinburgh’s grand Balmoral Hotel, Robbie Coltrane and Kevin McKidd – who play Lord Dingwall and practically the entire MacGuffin patriarchy in the film, respectively – were discussing musicals. Having last seen The Producers, Coltrane was singing the praises of star Nathan Lane, while McKidd spoke fondly of a recent outing to see Peter and the Star Catcher. Asked if he had ever been tempted to take to the stage, Coltrane replied that he’d never been asked. Actually, come to think of it…
RC: No, the National Theatre wanted me to do [Nicely-Nicely Johnson] in Guys and Dolls. That was in about 1842, just before your dad was born.
Coltrane and McKidd had first met at the opening of Tranispotting, the film that made Danny Boyle’s name and which starred a young Kevin McKidd at the age of just 21, during a strange night of vodka and Irn Bru. Although Brave marked their first professional collaboration, the nature of filming meant that they spend most of their time apart, in individual booths.
KM: It was all separate, but I think it has to be, really, or there would be too much interference.
RC: We were talking about the voices the other day, because [Billy] Connolly, Craig [Ferguson] and myself come from the west of Scotland and are all quite similar, although Connolly’s got that rasping quality to his voice, and we had to separate ourselves. It sounds isolating because you’ve got a camera there, but you’ve also got the director, the producer and eight animators watching you. And they’re saying “Can you do this breath?”, because they want to know the shape of your voice. It’s absolutely essential that they get the shape of your voice box right or the audience just won’t accept it.
KM: I remember this one guy who was saying to me, ”Do that line again as if you’ve just had, like, a spear poked in your eye”.
Not that either actor is unfamiliar with the demands of voice acting, of course, with Coltrane in particular boasting a number of animated credits. Kevin McKidd’s experience, however, was essentially limited to the first two Call of Duty video-games.
KM: It’s similar in one sense, but different in another. With a video-game you just have a billion different lines. At least with this there’s a story.
RC: So what did you do, “Take that you rotter?” How does it work?
KM: There was a number next to each line, one to five. One is a whispered line and five is scream-to-the-point-that-your-veins-pop-out-of-your-face, and because it’s a war game most of the lines are number fives.
RC: I’ve never done video-games, the closest was probably voicing the elevators in Glasgow’s Museum of Transport. But that’s not the same as [mimics] “The nargaliphs are coming! Bring out all four bazookas, Jackson”.
Following Coltrane’s ten-year commitment to the Harry Potter franchise (the final book of which was famously finished in that same hotel), and McKidd’s ties to television which saw him relocate to the United States, the draw of voice-acting was undoubtedly strong, with the former signing on before he’d even read the script. It is Pixar, after all.
RC: They’re my heroes really. And it’s nice not to have to wear a costume, or four thousand tons of glue [as Hagrid in the Harry Potter series]. We were talking about this earlier, but because there’s not the pressure of a film set, it’s a lot more relaxed as you can do as many takes as you like. Whereas on a big budget movie they’d say, “No, the extras go at 3 o’clock.”
One pressure both actors did feel, however, was to do their heritage justice. Heavily researched and boasting a not-inconsiderable amount of improvisation on behalf of the actors, the film’s script allows both Coltrane and McKidd to shine even in relatively small roles. Having began his acting career on stage at East End Primary School (which I myself once attended), McKidd was able to phone home for pointers on bringing his native Doric to the big screen.
KM: I did this authentic accent from [Elgin]. I suggested to Pixar that rather than making Young MacGuffin generally incomprehensible, why don’t we make it specific? I mean, I’ve never heard my dialect in a film before so I’m pretty excited about that.
RC: There was a lot [of improvisation]. That’s what I was saying earlier about there not being the economic pressures to be right every time – they’d ask if that was really the way that you’d say it in Scotland. But we’d be using words that they maybe wouldn’t get in Wisconsin and you’d have to think of that, but they were jolly good.
Despite co-director Mark Andrews and producer Katherine Sarafian having been left to screen co-star Billy Connolly’s contributions for any inadvertent profanity, and the fact that NEDS had previously been subtitled for its American release, it seems that Coltrane and McKidd had a better time of moderating the Scottish accents for foreign audiences, each aided somewhat by their own children.
KM: I did swear a couple of times, so obviously they couldn’t use that.
RC: But it’s actually fairly easy to insult people without using any swear words, if you choose your words properly. I have to say, they were very free about it. Although with the committee there it was a little inhibiting, and I sometimes had my daughter there as well. I have to say they were very free about it.
KM: My kids have got really good American accents. They’ve got English accents too, but we moved over there for Grey’s Anatomy and my daughter keeps saying, “Why do people say you’ve got such a good American accent? Your accent’s rubbish.
Following a stilted release which saw it open in Scotland and Ireland on August 3rd and Wales and England on August 13, Brave is now on general release across the UK. Go along and judge the results for yourselves.
Reptillus: Greetings friends!
Oct 27, 2015 2:00:45 GMT -5
duchovlet: Win KEVIN McKIDD's Autographed Grey's Anatomy 250th Episode Hat * BID HERE www.ebay.com/itm/231735882800 * OPEN WORLDWIDE * Kevin will *PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPH * hat to winning bidder!
Oct 29, 2015 20:55:46 GMT -5
duchovlet: HAPPY HOLIDAYS from TEAM McKIDD! We wish all McKidders joy, peace & a fun year ahead Thank you for supporting Kevin & his official website!
Dec 24, 2015 11:06:08 GMT -5
rayme: I love Grey's Anatomy
Feb 4, 2017 19:48:22 GMT -5
rayme: Can we talk them here
Feb 4, 2017 19:49:03 GMT -5
stormtrooper68: Hello, everyone. anybody else spotted the mistake in episode 13 of Journeyman. Happens during the dance scene.
Apr 24, 2017 4:03:57 GMT -5
veroni: My name is veronica and I am from South Africa. On which date will Grays Anatomy Season 11 debuted in Norway. No one else detected the slip-up in scene 13 of Journeyman. Occurs amid the move scene.comfortable mattress.
Jul 14, 2017 3:25:05 GMT -5
garym: Hi everybody Im Gary from Keith in Scotland . My mothers mother is his grandmas sister a 2nd cousin I believe and to all his fans out there reading,no need to be jelous Ive never even met Kevin. Would be super cool to tho
Apr 30, 2020 18:42:07 GMT -5
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Jun 29, 2020 9:05:56 GMT -5