Christopher Robin Q&A with Legendary Voice Actor Jim Cummings
Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood crew return to the big screen this weekend in their new film, Christopher Robin directed by Marc Forster. I recently had a chance to be part of a roundtable conversation with Jim Cummings, the man behind the voice of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger as well as dozens of other beloved animated characters. Below are my questions to Mr. Cummings during the conversation.
Scott Menzel: In your opinion, what makes these characters so timeless?
Jim Cummings: Well, you know they’re not tied to a fad. They’re not necessarily on skateboards or hoverboards, and there are no pogs involved. They’re not flipping the bottle, there’s nothing. They’re kind of evergreen. They came from literature back in the 20s when he first wrote the bedtime stories about Christopher Robin. They just have had that timeless quality. It pulls you right back to your childhood. There’s no real fad involved in that type of thing. It’s timeless, I think, for everybody. You could be eight or 88, and it pulls you back to your childhood. It’s that sweet time.
Scott Menzel: I’m curious about the animation in the film, but also your history with animation. Your involvement, obviously I know you’re a voice talent but how has that changed throughout the years, like having to go from hand-drawn animation to computer-generated animation?
Jim Cummings: Well, you know for us I don’t think there is much of a difference. No, uh-uh (negative), because we record it. Every show is recorded as a radio drama if you will. They take that and then they animate from there. As to what medium they use, my work is done by the time they get there. It probably stays the same. There are different trends that are out there nowadays. I mean, I don’t think anybody is going to ever be nostalgic for the good old days, “Remember when they had everybody belched and had all these bodily functions in cartoons?” You know, that’s different. There was less of that when I started. I don’t think anybody will miss that if it goes away.
Scott Menzel: Can you talk a little bit about your relationship with Disney? I mean, you’ve been with them for so many years over so many different projects, just your overall experience, and stuff.
Jim Cummings: Yeah. It’s great. You know, I’m happy as I could be. The first job I got was Lionel the Lion in Dumbo Circus in 1980, late, 85. I think it was 85. Then the first movie I did was Who Framed Roger Rabbit, another famous Disney movie. I grew up, I mean I’ve got, I don’t have my shirt anymore, but I’ve got the picture of me with my Mouseketeer shirt on, waiting for a net. I had my Zorro hat. I still have my Davy Crockett hat from the 50s. I don’t know. I’ve often said that Disney, you know all the trivia and all the world of Disney and the world of America are just about woven together into the same fabric. That’s why I love coming here to the lot and some of the older, you know you’re on Dopey Drive for crying out loud. Come on, you got to love that. You know?
Scott Menzel: Everyone always asks like what’s your favorite character of the voice and whatnot. What was the most difficult character for you to have a voice?
Jim Cummings: Well, Taz is the most difficult still. I say difficult, that’s not really right, it’s just the most wear and tear. It’s not difficult per se. When we did the Tasmania Show we did like 90 some shows. I said, “Can we do these on Friday afternoon rather than Monday morning? Have the weekend off.” He’s like the anti-Pooh.