The One and Only Ivan became one of many movies that were impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A family movie about talking animals and an all-star cast this should have done well at the box office but unfortunately the timing of the pandemic Disney made the decision to release the movie on Disney+. Bleeding Cool got the chance to talk to comedian Ron Funches (Trolls World Tour, Harley Quinn) about how the movie has taken on new meaning in the pandemic era and channeling his inner Thumper to voice a bunny named Murphy in the movie.
Bleeding Cool: It's a real shame that we're not able to open this movie in theaters with everything that's going on. But taken on a more relatable and even a more poignant theme with everything going on. It's about isolation and captivity and we're all feeling very isolated and maybe even a little captive. Could you get into that a little more about how the movie just kind of became even more relatable, even though you guys filmed it two years ago?
Ron Funches: Oh, absolutely. I mean, you pretty much nailed it. You know, it's about being isolated and away from each other. Away from your family, away from your friends… to the point where it becomes almost like the only world you've ever known. It is particularly true for my character, Murphy, he becomes so used to it all, he doesn't ever want to even leave his firetruck. But I think the movie is about maintaining your home, maintaining a sense of togetherness. And he gets sparked by Ruby. I think you're absolutely right, it's a beautiful film now. It was then, but it's more important now and also I just think it provides more of a service now that, you know, that people are at home, stressed out. I myself did not expect this to last this long. And so, to have a respite, to have something to do with my family. Even simple things. Like I've just been loving that my little ice cream shop has been open again for a few hours a day and that I can take my son to go get ice cream to make it feel normal again. I think a movie like this provides that service as well.
BC: Were there any unique challenges to recording this movie compared to doing voiceover work for Trolls or you did some guest spots with Bob's Burgers or even Harley Quinn?
RF: Even though I'm a bunny, it was a little more pulled back and realistic and less spastic or overly cartoonish, which there's a call for with some other things like Trolls and Harley Quinn, where I have to be very aggressive and violent. This like more like "be yourself, but also be a bunny". So I would kind of twist my nose a little bit, and I would pat my foot around and keep this little movement in my foot to get this feeling or energy that I was this rabbit.
BC: You were channeling your inner Thumper. There is nothing wrong with that. The movie obviously has a very strong kind of anti-circus anti-animal-captivity message. Were you familiar with the source material or even the original story of Ivan before you got the script?
RF: I was not familiar with the book. I was familiar with Ivan because I grew up in the Northwest. And that was in Washington. And so I was familiar with that, but just vaguely. And then they're doing the movie, I read the book and be more familiar with it. There are not that many circuses running anymore. I think it just showed you that you can change your mind about things. When I was a kid I loved the circus. I thought it was amazing. Then you learn about the treatment of these animals and in some cases the treatment of the performers, the people that worked there as well. We all have similar goals. We just want to be free. We want to be around our family. We want to be able to pursue our lives. I think that also applies to The One and Only Ivan.
Are you having a hard time telling what day it is because of quarantine and working from home? That was something we got to chance to briefly talk about with Funches and he had some advice to help you keep your days apart: "I make sure I recognize the weekends by doing a dance Saturday and Sunday. I just pop music really loud, and I dance in my office. Just to make sure it feels like the weekend." So there is your advice from Funches; it's time to dance this weekend. The One and Only Ivan, directed by Thea Sharrock, stars Sam Rockwell, Angelina Jolie, Danny DeVito, Helen Mirren, Brooklynn Prince, Chaka Khan, Ron Funches, Phillipa Soo, and Mike White, as the animals with the human characters played by Ramón Rodríguez, Ariana Greenblatt, and Bryan Cranston. It is streaming to Disney+ today.