Dreamworks’ Abominable tells the story of a group of young friends who encounter a Yeti named Everest and must help it find its way back home to reunite with its family. As an animated film featuring a sadly mythical creature (we think), the voice cast of Abominable had to do a lot of acting opposite an invisible character and that presented a unique set of challenges. The cast recalled what it was like in an exclusive interview with CinemaBlend’s own Jeff McCobb. Take a look:
Chloe Bennet, who many Marvel fans will know as Daisy/Skye/Quake on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., stars in Abominable as Yi, the “kickass tomboy” teenage girl who first meets the Yeti. The relationship between Yi and Everest is important to the film but as Chloe told Jeff, in the recording booth, there was nothing there at all for her to interact with or to help her get into character for her performance.
It wasn’t just the absence of a live yeti or even a dude wearing a silly cardboard cutout on his head that makes getting into character for something like this a challenge. Chloe Bennet is known more for her live-action work and is not a dedicated voice actress and she noted that doing the voice acting in the booth strips her of the elements that help her get into her performance like her hair and makeup, the set and the other actors standing across from her.
As such, Chloe Bennet had to really use a lot of imagination to become Yi and imagine Everest in front of her. But she found the fact that it was just about her voice rather than other superficial aspects rather freeing, and made her more confident than she would be on a traditional set.
For Albert Tsai and Tenzing Norgay Trainor, who play Peng and Jin respectively in Abominable, recording scenes where their characters interacted with Everest was very different than when they had to interact with the other human characters.
Abominable director Jill Culton would read the other characters’ dialogue when Albert or Tenzing were in the recording booth, so they would be directly interacting with the other characters, but that wasn’t really the case for Everest. That was challenging because they would have to react, often without actual dialogue, just audible noises, to the actions of a yeti that they couldn’t see.
There wasn’t any sort of pre-vis for the actors to watch to see what Everest was doing, so as Jill Culton recalled, she would basically have to describe the actions of the yeti to the actors to help them visualize and inform their performance. As strange as it might sounds, it seems like it all worked to get them into character because there were scenes where the director, star Chloe Bennet and those in the recording booth were all crying in what looks to be a tear-jerking film.