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Voice actor Jim Cummings has been an integral part of the Winnie The Pooh franchise for decades. He first voiced the cuddly bear back in the late 1980s, started voicing Tigger in 1990, and has been doing both ever since. As such, it was weird that the new movie Christopher Robin initially only hired him for the former role, but that all changed fairly recently. Originally actor Chris O'Dowd was hired for the part, but as Cummings explained, the performance didn't quite work:
It was a surprise [not playing Tigger]. It took some wind out of my sails, but, you know, like the song says, 'Put one foot in front of the other [foot]'. That's, that's all you can do anyway. I guess, what would you say, it was an interpretation? It seemed to me, because my 13 year old and I saw it, and she just didn't know [what to make of it].
It was this past weekend during the Los Angeles press day for Christopher Robin that Jim Cummings discussed his strange journey with Tigger for the project, sitting down with members of the press, including myself, as part of a roundtable interview. The actor was asked not only how he initially felt about not being cast as Tigger, but also what went on behind-the-scenes that resulted in what is essentially a last minute change.
At the time of the interview Jim Cummings admitted that he hadn't seen the most recent cut of the movie with his performance as Tigger -- but he did have a theory about why the early version of Christopher Robin didn't work. Specifically, he believes audiences have grown accustom to what Tigger should sound like when he's in movies, and the movie was doing too much both changing his voice and his typical appearance (rather than being the bright orange, friendly tiger he is in the cartoons, he is depicted as a realistic, worn-down stuffed animal in the new film). Cummings explained,
I think what happened was you just get used to a sound, a voice, an attitude. And in this case it was decades old, you know, they were used to me for forever. I think they just said, 'Well, gosh, it's such a wonderful project... maybe we don't want to introduce such a radically new wrinkle, maybe, and maybe we just go back with something that everybody's going to glom onto, and something that they've heard.' Next thing I know I was looping in the Tigger lines, and I hope it worked.
Just watching the trailer it is legitimately amazing to once again see Winnie The Pooh and Tigger featuring their classic voices, so in the long run it does seem like Christopher Robin and its creators made the right choices in the end. Audiences will be able to find out for themselves very soon, as the move will be in theaters this weekend -- and be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more from my interviews with the movie's cast and director!