Our second interview of the day was with actors Jason Ritter and Rachel Matthews, who voiced the new characters of Ryder and Honeymaren in Frozen II.
The first question was whether this was their first Disney project. Ritter worked on the show Gravity Falls for Disney television, which ran for two seasons. Frozen II was Matthews’ first voiceover movie and her first voiceover audition.
We asked if they ever read the script. Ritter answered, “I think they know they’re so secretive and protective. And so I think what happened with both of us as we have sent an email that said if you want to come in on this thing for Frozen II.”
It was Ritter’s first time singing for an audition. He said, “I was scared and really nervous about it and ‘cause I do love singing but I never have never done it. Like when I was in high school, the drama program literally, like when my friends and I were old enough, they just did straight plays. And they’re like known for doing musicals.” He told us he sang “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop of Horrors at the first audition and Billy Joel’s “She’s Got A Way” at the final audition. “You know I knew even if I didn’t get the part, I at least had the sort of personal growth, going to a vocal coach and you know, prepared and stood up. And then the next time I’ll get them.”
Matthews admitted that she wasn’t supposed to audition at all. “My team just happened to get on the phone at the right time in regards to another client so I was not really sent an email. Mine was more like, ‘Hey, I guess I’ll take you. I guess I’ll see you.’”
As a musical theatre major at NYU, she watched and admired Josh Gad, Idina Menzel, and Jonathan Groff for years, so the experience was extra special for her. She did a David Mamet monologue at her first audition and was told in the room she’d be coming back. She states it was “the best thing that could have ever happened to me and just being in this beautiful place and walking around these halls.”
Matthews continued “And so then to be told I would be coming back was the dream itself and not whole experience as wildly intimidating and scary as it was. It was by far the most fun I’ve ever had. I don’t know I’ve been outright, and I was able to see sketches of Honeymaren before I even started with Chris buck. I could do but never in my wildest dreams thought for a second that I would be like a part of this.”
Ritter was so nervous about singing in his audition that he admitted to not looking at anyone in the room at the first audition. But the second audition, “I was able to stare blankly for I was filled with anxiety. Then I went, ‘But what if I just stop being scared and let them say no to me instead of me say no to myself?’ and so I just was like, I’m going to just try it and then it was the cherry on top actually find out that I got all those notes.”
The next question involved how much time was between getting the audition and working on the film. They both answered that there would be many months that they came in and would do a little section, but then come back and have changes. Both agreed that it was exciting to be sort of feeling like you were in the Inner Circle a little bit.
We were told that they didn’t get to work with any of the other actors, only Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck. “They do everything they can to get you there so they could kind of. I would come back and be like this seems like it would be sort of written in a way that they were getting know my voice. I was getting to know them and our sense of humor and they’re all right so let’s try these things.” Like apparently, both Ryder and Honeymaren were very scared of Olaf at one point in the film.
Matthews recounted a funny story involving this thing in the recording booth called an action bar. “There’s so many I remember. One of my first session, since I know you’ve done a good amount of voiceover and I haven’t at all. So, there was one scene originally where I was running really fast and we’re screaming a bunch of us were yelling at one another. And so I’m obviously running in place and you can’t actually pick up your feet and they said use your action bar. Hold on to it and then just use your upper body. There’s videos of us somewhere that I want.”
We asked how their lives have changed since the movie came out. Ritter said, “My daughter now has some new action figures to play with.” Where Matthews answered, “My future children will have plenty of dolls because my mom has probably bought up the entire aisle of Walmart has. She’s buying them for her grandchildren so if you want there’s a lot of a lot of dolls. If you walk in my kitchen right now, it’s literally every merch, every book, every doll. The large version, the small version of Honeymaren everything.” She admits that it’s “very surreal for me, and every time it feels somewhat normal, it like changes again. There’s nothing normal. This will never be normal.”
Does Honeymaren ever come out in your day-to-day life? “Honeymaren comes out when I don’t get enough sleep. Full night rest, my voice is a little bit lower and I really don’t have as much energy in your place. I wish I spoke like that.” Ritter didn’t do anything different to his voice, so he says it’s going to be interesting when his daughter is old enough to realize.
Have you ever been recognized by your voice like out on the street or somewhere? Ritter admitted yes. “It’s happened a couple times or I’m talking to someone and all of a sudden it’s usually like a kid that is like, ‘Dipper?’.” He considered this exciting because his regular talking voice is pretty similar, except for Dipper on Gravity Falls, he reaches a slightly higher register.
Since this was Matthews’ first voiceover job, would she like to continue? She told us she has worked with Disney on three audiobooks that are available on Audible and that she did something for NPR. She definitely wants to continue in this space. “I love altering my voice. I’d love to use it in different ways, and I think it’s amazing. Being unapologetically yourself in a room and not be conscious of, aware of the cameras and anything else it’s just you get to play. I’m addicted to that. I just want to continue to explore that and do that for the rest of my life. So yes, I would love to do more.”
Their final thoughts were about the film’s overall message and how the experience has played out for them. Ritter said, “You know I think the one of the things that has been so gratifying about the whole experience has been. Especially children’s reactions. Watching all of this feels sort of somehow different thing like a young girl dress up as Elsa or Anna than Cinderella or something like that. If there’s a little bit more kind of power to it and I love Cinderella, but I really enjoy being a part of a movies where I can look at the start of the underlying messaging of the movie and just give a stamp of approval. I can show this to my daughter. I was so proud to show this to my daughter. I won’t have to go, ‘You know that’s that, but you also there are other choices than you know.’”
“I’d like these little boys and girls who just loved it so much in and also to see videos of them singing the song. It’s like I was singing Disney songs when I was a kid and now here it is a new generation and it’s just been really gratifying to be a part of a movie where I can get behind every single message.”
Matthews agreed, bringing in her own family, “I remember so specifically, especially the premiere, I had my sister on my left and my mom on my right. And at a different moment I could look at my mom when I would see her crying and which made me cry and I just. You know I know what she was going through during some of those things and those beautiful moments. And then, I looked at my sister and I know she’s going through her own thing and we have our own relationship and I don’t think I’ve ever had that while watching a movie before that was so pure and so beautiful.”
These two actors were a blast to speak with and I loved learning about their processes and how much the experience meant to them. Hopefully, we’ll get to hear them sing one day!
Frozen II is released on digital February 11th and on Blu-ray on February 25th.