From the glamour of Crazy Rich Asians to the Christmas cheer of The Princess Switch 3, by way of being Tom Holland’s romantic rival in Spider-Man: Far From Home, Malaysian-Australian actor Remy Hii certainly forged a formidable path in his career thus far.
But I don’t think any of that prepared him for the “Giant, spaceship-flying, philosopher bunny rabbit” he’s voicing in Scarygirl – now screening in theatres across Australia; see why Peter Gray called it “Imaginatively directed and visually stunning” here.
To coincide with the release of the film, Peter and Remy spoke about the actor’s unique character, his deep love of the animated format, and finding his voice.
I feel like big screen animation is not something Australia is really known for. It must be pretty cool to be a part of something that’s really quite rare with Scarygirl.
I am such an animation nerd. I actually studied animation my first year out of high school when I was in the spades of denial of wanting to be an actor (laughs). It was acting through an avatar. When I realised it was going to be 15 hours in front of a computer every day, I couldn’t do it. But I think this film really speaks for itself. I don’t just want to say that this is an amazing film for an Australian animated film. It is an amazing film. To be a part of this story really means a lot to me.
As you said that you love animation, was there a film or program that acted as your gateway into loving that medium?
Oh my God, yeah. I think like a lot of kids I grew up on a diet of animation. The Land Before Time, I would watch that multiple times a week. I feel like everyone has that favourite film that really means a lot to them. Whether it’s The Lion King or Toy Story, or every single Ghibli film ever made (laughs). I feel like animation is such an incredible genre because it allows us to go to places in our imagination that we don’t necessarily get to do in live-action. There’s such a broad range to animation (too). I think that’s one thing the team on this did so well, because it’s such a unique style that throws back to the stop-motion genre. It’s so bright and vivid. The characters are all so unique.
On the mention of unique characters, yours – Bunniguru – is certainly unique. Talking to you now and hearing the voice of the character, two entirely different tones. Did you learn anything about your voice during the process? And did you enjoy the process of being able to just wear socks and pyjamas and go into work?
(Laughs) And I did! It’s not often you get the luxury of wearing whatever you want to work. It was such a different experience coming into this process. I was so excited when I received the audition material. It was a project I really wanted to work on. I knew it was really special. I was going to put everything I had into it, but, at the same time, when I read the character brief and they described (Bunniguru) as a “Giant, spaceship-flying, philosopher bunny rabbit”, so I didn’t know what to do with that. Our first read came and I had a gist of who this character is. He’s adventurous and he’s loud, and, yes, he’s philosophical, but he’s incredibly sweet natured. I think he’s an earnest and loyal character.
I didn’t want to shoehorn him from day one though. I felt like (his voice) was just going to be more of an ‘excited’ Remy. We progressed through those stages, and when I got the job I still didn’t have the character’s voice. We had a fun day workshopping his voice on day one in the studio. We were honing in on what Bunni’s voice was going to be. And it’s that paradox of choice because you realise you have a million different ways to (voice). What voice do I use? And basically the higher in pitch I got, the closer we got to this bunny rabbit (laughs). It’s a little bit “Looney Tunes” but it is grounded in this idea of being an energetic character who’s in love with life.
I even had to make sure that when I was preparing talking to you that it was Bunniguru you voiced, because it really sounded nothing like you! You definitely had a joyousness to your voice.
Oh, thank you so much. We all just had so much fun making it. And that was key, because it really did shine through. And not only is (Scarygirl) great for representation (in its cast), but it’s a great representation for Australia. It’s speaking to the industry at large, and it brings it back to the fact that there are so few animated films coming out of Australia. It’s so incredible to see a film like this punching so far above its own weight. I feel so proud watching it, and I’m so proud of what this country has to offer on an international stage.
Scarygirl is now screening in Australian theatres.