Kids should be allowed to be kids and enjoy the freedom of unstructured imaginative play. That’s a message that I’ve spoken of often, and it’s one that’s placed firmly at the heart of Disney’s Christopher Robin. In that film, Christopher (Ewan McGregor) has grown up, and as a father himself, he’s forgotten about the importance and magic of play. For his daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), childhood is headed in a bleaker direction until some familiar characters from The Hundred Acre Wood arrive, reminding Christopher of what once was and what still could be. In Los Angeles last week, I had a chance to meet with the 11-year-old actress inhabiting the role of Madeline to discuss the experience of joining Winnie the Pooh and friends for their first live-action adventure. Already a professional actor with a bright career ahead of her, how does Bronte play?
“I have lots and lots of stuffed animals at home,” Bronte explains. “I don’t really have a favorite teddy at home, but I have lots and lots. And I like to talk to them and play with them with my sister as well.”
Like the residents of The Hundred Acre Wood, play often moves into the realm of games, both established and made up for the Carmichael sisters. “I play a lot with my sister. I like fun action games. I like making up games and like using things that I already have, turning them into stuff, and like exaggerating and turning that into something else!”
In the film, Madeline Robin discovers a connection to her father through art – coming across a box of treasures in the attic that contains some of Christopher’s original drawings of his friends. Madeline is an artist herself, and leaves her father a note alongside one of his old drawings – encouraging him to display his childhood artwork beside hers. For Bronte, drawing is something she could easily relate to.
“I’ve been drawing since I was about three,” she recalls. “I did like these bee people. I drew a bee and then I drew faces on them and stuff. And then that kind of evolved. I like to draw a lot – I was just drawing before I came down today!”
Even being in front of the camera on a major motion picture, the kids in the cast were also compelled to make their own movies – something I recall doing with my parents’ Super 8mm camera some decades ago… very much like my own daughters now do with smartphones. On the set of Christopher Robin, there were some smaller films being crafted on the side, with Bronte and her friends taking on all the creative roles.
“We’d make like, little silent movies. Whilst they [the grownups] were filming in the studio next door, we’d be making our own movies. I remember once making like our own little mini James Bond movie with all of us in it!”
In fact, a James Bond film bears some similarities to an adventure that young Madeline embarks on in Christopher Robin – an epic chase through London alongside Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger! See how it all takes shape on the big screen – Christopher Robin is in theaters now!
Christopher Robin is directed by Marc Forster from a screenplay by Alex Ross Perry and Allison Schroeder and a story by Perry based on characters created by A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard. The producers are Brigham Taylor and Kristin Burr, with Renée Wolfe and Jeremy Johns serving as executive producers. The film stars Ewan McGregor as Christopher Robin; Hayley Atwell as his wife Evelyn; Bronte Carmichael as his daughter Madeline; and Mark Gatiss as Keith Winslow, Robin’s boss. The film also features the voices of: Jim Cummings as Winnie the Pooh and Tigger; Brad Garrett as Eeyore; Toby Jones as Owl; Nick Mohammed as Piglet; Peter Capaldi as Rabbit; and Sophie Okonedo as Kanga. Get tickets now via my affiliate, Fandango.
Interview Photo Credit: Louise Bishop, MomStart.