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Marc Forster's Christopher Robin features a very different version of Winnie The Pooh and his cuddly friends than we are used to seeing on the big screen. While the characters have long lived in the world of 2D animation (their last film released back in 2011), the new movie sees them not only rendered in 3D, but also looking more realistic than ever. It's a strangeness that's balanced out by familiar voices -- namely Jim Cummings as both Pooh and Tigger -- but as Cummings recently explained to me, you should notice that his version of the lead character in the feature is an altered take compared to his past performances:
[There's] this whole idea that Christopher grew up, and, if anything, it would be a little more sedate, a little more pulled back - because in the animated versions oftentimes Pooh's gone up in weather balloons in lightning storms, and fallen out of those balloons, and then landed in a tree, and falling 500 feet down, and now we're in the white water rapids. Oh, here comes the waterfall! So, you know, it's a little less bodacious all the way around. So that in and of itself is a bit of a buffer, brings you back down to Earth.
Jim Cummings has been voicing Winnie the Pooh for more than 30 years now, and his take on the character is iconic in pop culture. The opportunity to perform in Christopher Robin, however, offered up some very different circumstances and context, though, which led him to change the sound slightly. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jim Cummings this past weekend during the Los Angeles press day for the new movie, and he revealed this change while talking about his relationship with director Marc Forster and their work together.
In Christopher Robin, Ewan McGregor plays an adult version of the titular character, who has long forgotten his time playing in the Hundred Acre Woods and has started a family of his own. In that time Winnie The Pooh has aged as well, elegantly shown in his realistic appearance as a worn-down teddy bear, but he's still there for Christopher when he is in need -- reuniting with his old best friend when the former imaginative boy starts to prioritize his work over his wife and daughter. Audiences have never seen Pooh quite like this, and in side-by-side comparison the difference is recognizable.
Also important to note is that Jim Cummings certainly seems to have appreciated the opportunity to give a different kind of energy to Winnie The Pooh, as he had nothing but nice things to say about the approach for the project, and Marc Forster's vision. Said Cummings,
It's just such a beautiful idea. It wasn't done Roger Rabbit style where the actual cartoon characters are intermingling with... and as full blown cartoon characters - which was also groundbreaking and cool in its time. But this, with the technology is, I mean, my gosh. That's Pooh walking across the room. There's Tigger, there's Owl! They're all alive and kicking!
You can watch Jim Cummings talk about his different take on Winnie The Pooh for his performance in Christopher Robin by clicking play on the video below.