- 29 Aug 12
The star of Trainspotting, Rome and Grey’s Anatomy Kevin McKidd has come over all patriotic in the new Pixar film Brave. He tells Roe McDermott about voice-work, being a parent and honouring his Scottish roots through his music.
It’s hard to overstate just how damn charming Kevin McKidd is. Wandering around a grand Edinburgh manor like a Scottish – and therefore even more swoon-worthy – Jane Austen hero, the star of Trainspotting, Rome and Grey’s Anatomy is unerringly polite and friendly to everyone he meets. And as if the trail of star-struck women (and now sexually confused men) in his wake wasn’t enough to assure you that this actor has got something, let me tell you - the boy can dance. In celebration of the new Disney/Pixar film Brave, the kind folks at Disney threw an amazing shindig up in Scotland, complete with traditional music, traditional food (yes, I tried the haggis), and of course, a traditional Scottish ceili. Until you’ve been flung around a dancefloor by a skilled Kevin McKidd and a not-so-skilled John Lassiter, you haven’t lived, my friend.
And the bash wasn’t the only authentic thing about the film, as voice actors include Scotsmen Billy Connolly, Craig Ferguson and Robbie Coltrane. The actors recorded their pieces individually and never met – a decision, McKidd opines, that was probably deliberately made by the filmmakers.
“We probably wouldn’t have got much work done – a lot of laughing and a lot of telling stories, but not much efficiency of time! It’s a shame though, I met Billy Connolly years and years ago but still haven’t seen him yet [in relation to Brave]. It probably would have been hedonism embodied!”
Chris Rock made some enemies after the 2012 Oscars by somewhat lambasting the recent trend of celebrities doing under-skilled, over-paid voiceover work for animated features. For McKidd, who made a name for himself doing voice work for video games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty, it’s an underrated medium.
“I love it, love using my voice in that way. After drama school I did a lot of radio plays, both up in Scotland and down in London and I learned a lot of my craft that way. I think it’s a real shame that radio plays aren’t as popular as they once were, because I think actors learn a lot. Video games are a whole different ballgame. You have to say thousands and thousands of lines and scream at the top of your lungs til you’ve no voice left. This is a complete breeze compared to those.”
McKidd’s big break came in 1996, with a role in Danny Boyle’s gritty and hard-hitting heroin drama Trainspotting, which also featured Brave co-star Kelly MacDonald. That was also the year hestarred in the critically-acclaimed film Small Faces. Until then, it seemed like his dream of being an actor was shut down at every turn – which is why he felt a connection to Brave’s tale of a young rebellious teen fighting for independence.
“I felt Merida’s story and her drive. Growing up in Scotland, wanting to be an actor just seemed like such an out-of-reach dream. I knew in my heart when I was a child that this was what I wanted to do, and even though everyone around me was doing the responsible thing and saying ‘You’re crazy, you can’t do that, you’re dreaming’, you know that you have to follow your heart sometimes.”
The proud father of 12-year-old Joseph and 10-year-old Iona, McKidd states that it’s nice to star in things his kids can actually watch – strangely enough, he hasn’t shown them Trainspotting yet. And in a move sure to give them extra cred in the playground, he’s even given them some executive power over the projects he chooses.
“My son was really into the Percy Jackson books, and when the role of Poseidon came up was adamant that I had to do it. And with Brave as soon as you mention the word ‘Pixar’ to the kids they’re ecstatic, so they’ve basically become my agents.”
A family-man, McKidd’s ancestry has also inspired his latest project, about which he’s very passionate.
“My grandfather was a serious rabble-rouser and a big character in my hometown, and he used to sing all these old Scottish folk tunes to me as a child. When he died, I realised I didn’t have any recordings of the songs and didn’t want them to get lost. So I’ve done an album called The Speyside Sessions that was assembled in a house over a week with all my best friends. We’ve all become quite accomplished traditional music players, and all the profits from it are going to Save The Children. So buy it, even if you think you’re going to hate it, because all the money’s going to charity, it’s still a good deed!”
He grins at me.
“Was that enough of a plug?”
Just about. I’ll be demanding another dance though.