Sky’s the limit for Jessica
SCaris Bizzaca ELF-CONFESSED Disneyholic Jessica Marais is still trying to figure out how she scored a part in the mouse house’s animated flick Planes. Who knows, maybe Disney chief John Lasseter is a fan of Packed to the Rafters. Especially considering since leaving the TV series and moving to Los Angeles, Marais has only been seen in one role – and it definitely wasn’t the kind you would associate with Disney.
In US cable show Magic City, Marais played mobster’s wife Lily Diamond, something she says was ‘‘particularly adult in its content’’.
‘‘I’m pretty sure Lily Diamond in Magic City is not quite the character that would inform this kind of a casting choice,’’ she says. ‘‘She’s not a Disney type, per se.’’ So when Marais got the call saying they wanted her to voice Aussie aircraft Rochelle in the Cars spin-off, Planes, she jumped at the opportunity.
‘‘I grew up watching Disney movies and we go to Disneyland every time we go back to America (so this) is such an honour.’’
But there were three other bonuses. Firstly, Marais had the chance to be in something suitable for her children.
‘‘I thought it would be a nice change to have something a little more Scout-friendly, for my daughter to be able to watch,’’ she says of her 16-month-old.
The second factor was despite being a movie about planes, she didn’t have to get on one. Marais instead recorded the part from Fox Studios in Sydney, which fitted into her filming commitments for Nine Network’s eight-part series Love Child and upcoming ABC1 telemovie Carlotta.
And a third reason was for Marais, who had never voiced an animated character before, there was a bit of relief when she watched Planes for the first time.
‘‘I think there’s a huge amount of pressure taken off when it’s not your face on screen,’’ she says, adding she watched it with partner and former Packed to the Rafters co-star James Stewart.
‘‘You can enjoy hearing yourself, but not have to critique everything about your performance visually.’’
But for Aussie and New Zealand audiences, the look of Rochelle is actually important. She’s designed specifically for our region, there’s even a kangaroo painted on the side.
‘‘They changed not only the voicing of her but the look of her as well, so she was a go-getter Australian plane,’’ she says.
Versions of Rochelle have been created for France, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Russia and the US, with different actresses voicing the part. In the US version, Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus does the voice.
Joking that Rochelle maybe should have been named something more Aussie, Marais has a few suggestions.
‘‘Rozza. Or Shelley. There’d be a few nicknames,’’ Marais says.
Planes opens today.
Dusty Crophopper, voiced by Dane Cook
Jessica Marais during a live recording for at Sound Firm studio at Fox Studios in Sydney.