Apparently not every superhero story available on Disney+ is ripped from the pages of Marvel Comics. However, Squirrel Girl does have a few things in common with the heroic protagonist of the streaming platform’s latest original movie, which Alyson Hannigan stars in. The former How I Met Your Mother actress is not only member of the Flora & Ulysses cast you are bound to recognize.
Based on the Newbery Medal-winning novel by Kate DiCamillo from 2013, this family film from director Lena Khan follows a 10-year-old girl named Flora who is struggling to come to grips with her parents’ divorce. Her much-needed choice of escape is reading comic books about costumed avengers, which soon becomes a part of her reality in the unexpected form of a squirrel whom she names Ulysses. After discovering that her new furry, woodland friend has been gifted with superpowers, they then embark on adventures that, while rarely leaving the backyard, are nothing short of exciting.
Like most other films of that (technically) fall under the superhero genre, Flora & Ulysses, available to stream on Disney+ as of Friday, February 19, boasts a cast of many beloved A-listers and lesser known, promising talents alike. See if you can remember where you may have spotted some of its main performers in our breakdown of their best-known work up to this point, starting with its central (human) heroine.
Matilda Lawler (Flora Buckman)
One-half of the titular duo in Flora & Ulysses is first leading role for Matilda Lawler. The young actress, who also made her Broadway debut at 10 years old in 2019’s production of The Ferryman, made her screen acting debut that same year on a Halloween episode of Evil - a hit supernatural crime procedural on CBS. She would revisit that genre in the 2020 sci-fi film The Block Island Sound and will again (but with far more grounded themes) when she plays Mackenzie Davis’ younger self in Station Eleven - an upcoming miniseries set in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.
John Kassir (Ulysses)
Providing the chirps and squeaks of Flora’s loyal, super-powered, furry friend Ulysses is John Kassir, whose voice you have surely heard in something, such as Disney’s live action 2016 remake of Pete’s Dragon (in which he played Elliot), animated series like Adventure Time (in which he played multiple roles), and video games such as the Final Fantasy franchise, to name only a handful. You may have also seen his face here and there on crime series like CSI: Miami or in a 2000 made-for-TV Three Stooges biopic in which he played Shemp. However, the actor’s most iconic role is The Crypt Keeper, whom he voiced for seven seasons on Tales from the Crypt and wherever else the character has appeared since.
Alyson Hannigan (Phyllis Buckman)
Long before playing Flora’s mother in Flora & Ulysses, Alyson Hannigan dealt a lot with beings much like the Crypt Keeper on Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Willow Rosenberg. Not long after the hit supernatural series’ end, the American Pie franchise star made comedy a more definable part of her career when she was cast as Lily Aldrin on How I Met Your Mother. Outside of hosting Penn & Teller: Fool Us, Hannigan has since kept her feet in both waters, appearing in the 2018 horror-comedy You Might Be the Killer, playing Kim Possible’s mother in a live action adaptation of the Disney Channel cartoon, and marrying Mira Sorvino in Dodie & Cheryl Get Hitched, which is now in pre-production.
Ben Schwartz (George Buckman)
It was Ben Schwartz who brought Sonic the Hedgehog to life in 2020’s big screen adaptation of the popular video game franchise, but he is experiencing a role reversal by starring opposite a CGI animal as a single father in Flora & Ulysses. The Emmy-winning comedian first gained mainstream appeal as fan-favorite recurring character Jean-Ralphio Saperstein on Parks and Recreation before becoming a series regular on the Don Cheadle-led Showtime dramedy House of Lies and lending his voice to the likes of Bob’s Burgers, Robot Chicken, and Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He also found success on Netflix playing Rutabaga Rabitowitz Bojack Horseman, a media relations handler on Space Force, and collaborating with his improvisational comedy partner Thomas Middleditch on a trilogy of live specials.
Danny Pudi (Miller)
Ben Schwartz also plays Dewey on the latest DuckTales reboot, in which Huey is voiced by Danny Pudi - who is channeling the Darkest Timeline’s iteration of Abed Nadir to play the villain of Flora & Ulysses. After Community’s final curtain call in 2015, the Chicago-native would play an insurance agent at a company specializing in superhero-related accidents on Powerless, an unrecognizable alien in Star Trek Beyond, and has many more voice acting credits, including Disney Junior’s Mira, Royal Detective. This latest family film is his second collaboration with director Lena Khan after her 2016 feature-length debut The Tiger Hunter.
Kate Micucci (Rita)
Another DuckTales star appearing in Flora & Ulysses is Kate Micucci - also a prolific voice actress additionally known for playing Sadie in Steven Universe, Clayface in The LEGO Batman Movie, and Velma in several Scooby-Doo iterations for years. She has also cemented herself as one of the most acclaimed comedic voices of her generation as one-half of the folk parody duo Garfunkel and Oates and acclaimed films such as Don’t Think Twice. You might have also seen in her recurring roles on sitcoms such as The Big Bang Theory and Raising Hope and with her Flora & Ulysses co-star Alyson Hannigan on a Season 2 How I Met Your Mother cameo.
Bobby Moynihan (Stanlee)
Believe it or not, there is a fourth DuckTales veteran in the cast of Flora & Ulysses: Bobby Moynihan, who first followed up nine years on Saturday Night Live with the short-lived sitcom Me, Myself, and I in 2017. However, he at least got to be a part of the Star Wars universe with multiple voice roles in multiple related projects, unlike his The Book of Henry director and friend Colin Trevorrow. More recently, the actor plays the titular weed-dealing manatee of the animated series Loafy, plays the communications director for Ted Danson on Mr. Mayor, and will star as Paul Revere in the upcoming musical comedy America: The Motion Picture.
Anna Deavere Smith (Mrs. Meescham)
Actress, writer, and producer Anna Deavere Smith has never voiced a role on DuckTales, but has been in many political dramas, on both the big screen (Dave and The American President) and the small screen (The West Wing and Madam Secretary). The Flora & Ulysses star has also delved into medical TV shows like Nurse Jackie, a few legal dramas (most recently For the People), sitcoms like Black-ish, and even an episode of the Arrowverse hit Legends of Tomorrow in 2016. Her other notable film credits include the Academy Award-winning Tom Hanks drama Philadelphia, director Peter Berg’s 2007 thriller The Kingdom, and, more recently, Can You Ever Forgive Me? opposite Melissa McCarthy.
Nancy Robertson (Tootie Tickham)
Before Flora & Ulysses, the last time Nancy Robertson starred in a Disney-produced adaptation of a beloved children’s novel was in 2010’s Ramona and Beezus, starring Selena Gomez and Joey King as Beverly Clearly’s iconic sibling duo. The Canadian actress is best known as Wanda Dollard on Corner Gas, one of the most popular sitcoms originating from the Great White North (also created by and starring her husband Brent Butt) that has since spawned a movie and animated reboot - both of which she reprised her role for. She also recently lent her voice to The Willoughbys, a hit animated film released exclusively to Netflix in 2020.
Benjamin Evan Ainsworth (William Spiver)
Before Flora & Ulysses, the last time Benjamin Evan Ainsworth teamed up with a character named Flora was in The Haunting of Bly Manor, Mike Flanagan’s Henry James-inspired follow-up to his Haunting of Hill House miniseries on Netflix. The young British actor only has two other credits to his name at the moment, including an episode of the long-running U.K.-based soap opera Emmerdale Farm in 2018 and the Italian-produced short film The Recycling Man, in which he plays a wheelchair bound boy desperate to save a young woman from the titular villain in a dystopian society.
Emma Oliver (Six-Year-Old Flora)
We also meet Matilda Lawler’s character at a younger age, played by Emma Oliver, who started acting at 5-years-old and, two years, is already one of the busiest child stars of her generation. She made her debut on the recent revival of The X-FIles, followed by playing a younger version of Alexandra Breckenridge’s character on Virgin River and landing a part on Supernatural’s final season in 2020. Flora & Ulysses is also Oliver’s second time working with Ben Schwartz after a brief role in Sonic the Hedgehog, but you can also see her on TNT’s series adaptation of Snowpiercer as Winnie.
It is not always that you see a smaller family film based on a children’s novel with jam-packed with prime talent. Yet, Flora & Ulysses revels in its is star-studded cast, as you can see from the list above. If you have already had the pleasure of streaming Flora & Ulysses, who do you believe gave the best performance?
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.