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Feb 16
Ali Articles & Interviews, Zootopia Comments Off on Disney princess Ginnifer Goodwin hops to ‘Zootopia’ role

The San Francisco Chronicle ran this article on Ginny and her new film Zootopia.

When Ginnifer Goodwin says she loves Disney, believe her. “I’m a Disney freak. A Disneyphile,” she says.

Unlike most kids who fell under the Disney spell watching “The Little Mermaid” or any other Disney animated film over and over, Goodwin ended up as a Disney princess of sorts. Since 2011 she has played Snow White on “Once Upon a Time,” ABC’s contemporary take on Disney fairy tales.

Goodwin took her princesshood so seriously, in fact, that she married Josh Dallas, the actor who plays her Prince Charming on the show. The couple wed in 2014 and have one son, Oliver, who turns 2 in May, and another arriving in about three months.

Before then, Goodwin gets to cross off another item on her Disney bucket list: giving voice to a lead character in a Disney animated film.

In “Zootopia,” the latest from a reinvigorated Disney Animation after hits like “Frozen” and “Big Hero 6,” Goodwin plays Judy Hopps, an adorable little bunny rabbit who becomes the first of her species to serve on the police force in Zootopia, a mega-city where predator and prey live side by side in relative peace. It’s a true urban jungle, where animals of vastly different sizes (from mouse to elephant) wear clothes, drive cars and, in Judy’s case, fight crimes involving prejudice and fear mongering.

More than a cartoon with a message, “Zootopia” is a full-on allegory about race, and the fact that its protagonist is a heroic police officer gives it added weight.

“From the beginning, the movie was always about prey and predators trying to live together,” Goodwin says from Vancouver, British Columbia, where she shoots “Once Upon a Time.” “There was an early version of the script that was even more extreme, but the writers trusted their audience to go there without making things so black and white.

‘How we choose’

“This is a story about life and how we choose to live it. It was always grounded in something comical and relatable. You don’t feel the wallop coming. One of the things I’ve always loved about Disney is that they represent the pinnacle of storytelling. You really feel that here.”

Originally, the lead character was a fox named Nick Wilde voiced by Jason Bateman. Nick has chosen to play into the stereotype of a “shifty fox” and lives his life on the hustle. Judy Hopps was more of a sidekick, but then, about a year ago, directors Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Jared Bush decided Judy would make a stronger connection with the audience and Nick would be her sidekick.

“I didn’t realize until I saw the movie that my favorite thing about Judy is her feminist bent,” Goodwin says. “I was so relieved to see a movie where the lead female doesn’t have to have masculine qualities to be the hero. I was not expecting that. We record so many different versions of the scenes I wasn’t quite sure how they would sew her all together. There were some versions where I was trying to imagine a female John Wayne or maybe an Angelina Jolie.”

Judy leaves a bucolic farming community and a family with hundreds of brothers and sisters to find herself working doubly hard to fulfill her dream of becoming a police officer. No one believes a “dumb” bunny has what it takes, but of course, she proves them wrong.

“Judy is flawed but not jaded in any way,” Goodwin says. “She’s not a tomboy. She’s not tough as nails. She’s a sweet, kind, good girl who’s the action hero. She’s doing it on her own terms.”

More adventures?

Goodwin and Bateman make an entertaining pair, and the movie ends with the possibility of more adventures for Judy and Nick. That would make Goodwin happy.

“I would be delighted to spend the next 20 years making shorts and TV shows with these characters,” she says. “I keep asking the team when we start the sequel. I get very excited thinking about what kind of ‘Zootopia’ ride they could build in the Disney parks. I definitely don’t think we’ve seen the last of Nick and Judy.”

Chad Jones is a freelance writer in San Francisco who blogs at www.theaterdogs.net.

Zootopia (PG) opens Friday, March 4, at Bay Area theaters.


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