Lea DeLaria is an amazing creature of human design. The moment you see her in Orange is the New Black, scary comes to mind. Talking to her in person, however, is a whole different kettle of fish. I instantly wanted to crawl through the other end of the phone and talk for hours next to a BBQ and a couple of wines, as long as we keep the place clean… Lea loves her place to be clean!
Lea DeLaria is one of many talents; an actress, comedian and jazz musician – pulling them all off with ease. Her late-night stand-up comedy has garnered her instant fame, especially being the one of first openly gay comics to break the late-night talk show mould. Lea now appears in the brand new Disney Pixar feature Cars 3 as the scary but easily excitable Destruction Derby School Bus, Miss Fritter. We speak to Lea about her role in the film, open some nice Easter eggs on her character and talk about knocking a tick on her bucket list to appear in a Pixar feature film. We also try to get John Lasseter to take notice of a possible spin-off and congratulate Lea on her multiple award wins.
I got an advanced screening of the film last Tuesday and I haven’t been this excited since Toy Story 3. What a great new chapter for Disney and everyone involved. Lending your voice for a Disney film! Was this on your bucket list? How did you come across the role of Miss Fritter the hilariously eccentric Demolition Derby School Bus?
That is exactly correct! Exactly correct! Completely and utterly on my bucket list. When Pixar reached out to me I completely lost my mind, I mean what actor would go “Oh no, I don’t want to be in a Pixar movie?”, what idiot says that right? So, when they reached out and said we want to hear your take on the voice and I gave them my take and that was it, I was hired! It was so great and it’s been an amazing ride.
Can you take us through the process of the voice acting with Cars 3? For example, were you woken in the morning by Lightning McQueen, flown to work on a magical high thread count carpet and apparated into the world of Radiator Springs? Or was it a little more one on one in a recording booth? *laughs*
With voice acting it is usually one on one recording yes, but with a feature like this it’s hard to call it one on one. I have done voices for cartoons before, for television and stuff and generally that is one on one, sometimes you’re on remote with the director and you’re on a microphone, but when you’re making a huge feature like this (with Disney and Pixar) the directors in the room with you, the producers are in the room with you, writers and the animators are also there, like, the animators are there drawing you and filming you so they can get pieces of you within the characters you’re portraying, I was blown away by it.
I have done three animated films before and so I was like yeah, blah blah I can do this, but I went in and there is just no way to describe how you feel when you walk into Pixar (Studios). The first thing you see is Toy Story figures and then in another corner was The Incredibles and then Oh look there’s a bookshelf with what? I don’t know, 300,000 Oscars in it!? You know what I mean? It’s just like, tier after tier of Academy Awards. You get very goosebumpy about the whole thing.
The Derby scene in Cars 3 is no doubt one of the biggest highlights of the entire series, sadly, it is over so quickly but now that you have had a taste of Disney, are we going to see more from you? A possible spin off perhaps?
Uh? From your mouth to Mr Lasseter’s ears (Chief Creative Officer of Pixar John Lasseter), yes let’s say yes! (Jokingly) I’m gonna do a spin off! If I could borrow Aladdin for a second and put it out there that that’s one of my three wishes I’d definitely want to do a spin-off! I love that people like her it makes me so happy.
Did you get any say in the amazingly pierced look and design of Miss Fritter?
No, this was all the animators, this was all on them. It was really easy for me to voice her once I saw what she looked like, I was like, “oh yeah I know this one”. If you want to say I had any influence on her, she did have some personal touches about Lea Delaria on Miss Fritter. Her licence plate is actually my birthday and the name of the school on the bus is the school I attended. She shouts out the name of my town in the movie and everyone in Bellevue Illinois is going to lose their minds because they’re going to know it’s me, it’s a very small town, so I’m like home town girl makes good, it’s adorable and I’m very excited. I know when I was watching it Larry the Cable Guy who plays Mater, was sitting behind me and when that moment happened in the film he leaned forward and said “Your little town is going to be so happy”,
I was like “I know, I know”.
Talking about your little town, you just gained the Equality Illinois Freedom Award, you received this a few years ago now and I have to ask, how amazing did you feel getting this recognition from your own home ground?
Yes, that was the best part about it, when they called me up to give me that award it made me incredibly proud that it was my home stage.
You toured Australia in 2008, are you coming back or did we scare you off?
No sweetie, I have been in Australia three times over the course of time, I think the first time I went to Australia was in 1994, I have been on a lot of different Australian television shows, the late-night talk and comedy shows you know, all that stuff. It has been a lot of time in-between. I plan on being in Australia again next spring, I am going on a world tour in April, May and June and Australia will definitely be one of the places I go.
We need thousands more amazing voices like yours to be heard. Not only in animated films, but in a world where we can enjoy and accept talking cars, I am damn sure there is room for more love and equality and I must add If you do visit Australia again anytime soon maybe swing by Parliament and give them a good nudge up the backside towards getting that Marriage Equality rolling.
I’ll give them a good talking to, but I think the film (Cars 3) does that for me which I love. There is a really strong girl power message in the film and I love that the movie is geared towards that younger audience as well, I mean the movie is for everyone, I’m an adult and I sat there and cried in parts too, but that these young girls are watching this movie and receiving this incredible message that they can be and do anything, that they can live their dream. That is something that is not taught to girls in our little sect of society. It is such a great stand for us to take and I am so glad to be a part of that!
Cars 3 hits cinemas tomorrow, 22nd June, through Disney Pictures Australia.
Photo Credit: Lea DeLaria at the World Premiere of Cars 3 (Photo Credit Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)