Disney may be in the midst of rolling out a ton of exciting MCU television shows on its upcoming streaming service Disney+, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was the first series to connect to the universe. Chloe Bennet has starred as Daisy/Quake in the show since 2013 alongside Mulan voice actress Ming-Na Wen. The co-stars can now bond over their voice work as badass Chinese animated characters since Abominable is soon coming along.
In the new Dreamworks and Pearl Studio film, Chloe Bennet will play Yi, a young teenage girl living in a big Shanghai-esque city in China with her mom and grandma when she comes across a Yeti. Bennet herself lived in China with her “nai nai” too during her own teen years to pursue a pop career, and apparently her actual grandma resembles her character right down to the haircut.
“It’s kind of her in a lot of ways” co-director Todd Wilderman told CinemaBlend when we visited the Dreamworks’ campus to get a first look at the animated project. They discovered Chloe Bennet when she was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live! some years ago. They’d been on a quest to find a Chinese actress for the role and she was instantly drawn to the role when they contacted her. Wilderman also told us this of Chloe Bennet’s Yi:
We didn’t want to hold our heroine up on a pedestal and make sure she’s perfect. We wanted to show her flaws, that she was funny, she could be wrong, make mistakes and be the butt of the joke. I think Chloe really embraced that and was able to bring a realness to Yi.
The Abominable lead will be balancing jobs around the city in an effort to save up to travel the world. She’s a violin player and grieving the loss of her father. When she meets a scared Yeti in hiding on her roof, she finds companionship in him, calling him Everest. They venture across China with two neighborhood kids, Jin (played by Disney Channel star Tenzing Norgay Trainor) and Dr. Ken’s Albert Tsai. The cast also includes Glass’ Sarah Paulson, British comedian Eddie Izzard and Michelle Wong.
Former Pixar writer/animator Jill Culton wrote and co-directed the film and based Abominable. Here’s what she told us:
A lot of my inspiration came from my love of central relationships like E.T. and Black Stallion and it was important for me to have a kickass tomboy girl in there because I was a tomboy growing up and I felt like I only had princess movies to watch and there was nothing for me. I’ve also had giant dogs in my life, like Great Danes, I have two Bloodhounds right now that weigh 100 pounds each and I’ve grown up around animals, so that non-verbal relationship you have with them was very important to me and something I could relate to.
In the past, female-driven animated films have centered on fairy tales about royals finding true love. Culton couldn’t find herself in those stories, so when she was tasked by the studio to helm her own, she wanted to represent the tomboy girl, who was dealing with the same things she was.
Amazingly enough, Abominable is the first Dreamworks movie to be solely written by a woman and fronted by one. You can see Chloe Bennet’s kickass character in theaters on September 27.