Did y’all know that STRANGE MAGIC is coming out on Friday, January 23? Well it is, and I am so fortunate to have been able to screen it ahead of time and interview the cast and creators! By now, I hope you’ve read about my interview with George Lucas, the creator of the movie by now, but I also got to hear from Elijah Kelley, the voice of “Sunny” in the movie. Sunny is a little elf-looking guy, not very attractive, but is an energetic little character with a big heart. Sunny finds love in the movie, but he must work hard to win her love in return.
Elijah Kelley’s personality made for the perfect voice for his character Sunny, he is an upbeat, fun and spunky guy who had us laughing from the moment he stepped into the room, to the moment he left! Hailing from LaGrange, GA, Kelley grew up in the church where he played drums and sang with a traveling group in the congregation. He brought his talents and southern charm to the west coast, moving to Los Angeles in the early 2000’s, where he found another church to call home. He met a few people in the music business and began his career in acting and singing, he is most known for starring in Hairspray.
Kelley was such a fun interview, he was thrilled to be there and seems to be passionate about his work. Here are a few facts about Elijah Kelley and his character Sunny in the movie Strange Magic.
5 Facts about Elijah Kelley and “Sunny” In STRANGE MAGIC
1. It was Kelley’s very first voice over, and it was tougher than he thought it would be
“I’ve never done a voice over, like, before in my life, so it was a little bit of a challenge because he’s hyper and super into everything that he always does, so I thought that it was gonna be so easy.” Apparently, that wasn’t the case. Kelley said that he’d be sweating and leave lightheaded from bringing the character to life in the studio, and that he felt like he was dong P90x! Understanding the world the Sunny lives in and what he is like was a challenge, he is sort of the nucleus of the whole operation, “pulling everybody together, and trying to save the day, and messing up the day“, which he says is kind of like himself in real life.
2. Kelley’s musical talents and his favorite songs in the movie
As an actor, dancer, and singer, Elijah is a triple threat. His character Sunny sings a couple of songs, but Kelley says that his favorite one was cut out of the movie! Of the songs that made the cut, there is “a song called, Hold On, I’m Coming. But my favorite song in the movie is not even a full song. It’s when the little, the little birdies, they sing, Gotcha Looking So Crazy Right Now“. There are so many cute songs in the movie, popular ones that we all know and love!
3. Kelley was able to improvise and make Sunny his own
As in most films, there was a written script and pre-defined characters in the movie. Strange Magic Director Gary Rydstrom was gracious enough to allow Kelley to exercise a little creative freedom with his lines and expressions. “Gary, they were so gracious in allowing you bring the character to life in your way. The funny thing was, the first time I came up here, all the elves, you know, in the forest, like, they were all- everybody looked the same, they were little white elves. And I was like, okay, somebody’s gonna have to get some tanning lotion, put in a super soaker and just spray everybody.” That’s how Sunny got his color on screen, he was able to put a little flavor and a little swag into the character!
4. How Kelley got involved with Strange Magic, and how he feels about working with George Lucas
“I begged, and pleaded. The first time I heard about it, what was it, like, four years ago? Maybe five? Yeah, I heard that, you know, through the grape vine that Mr. Lucas was doing this movie and he sent me to an audition.” He wanted to bypass the whole process since they already worked together on Red Tails, but after going to two or three auditions, he landed the part! When he was asked about what he thinks of working with Lucas, here’s what he had to say:
“George has surpassed, I think what we are on Earth. He’s become an idea. It’s like every- every time I come here, I get so inspired because everything that we’re sitting on, everything that we drove up on was spawned from an idea. And when you have an idea, and when you have an idea that you’re convicted about, and you can change the world from that idea, you don’t stray away from it, and you dedicate your life to that idea. So every time I’m around him, it reinvigorates the passion for art in me that it only takes one thing. It only takes one idea. It only takes one thought to pretty much change your universe, and that’s, that’s why I love working with him because I can, I’m constantly reminded of that. Thanks, George. ”
5. What Kelley believes people with connect with in the movie
People will connect with the fact that we’re all, in some way, fighting for what we love. “Everybody goes through a lot of trouble to be able to grasp the love of their life, and I think that love is so complicated.” People will go to the ends of the Earth to capture something inspirational, and although this is just an animated film, it shares the same universal subject matter that is timeless through the generations. Relating the story to real life: “Whether we’re talking about a divide, you know, in America or we’re talking about what’s going on over, you know, in Paris, not to be so serious but, you know, love eradicates a lot of those issues.”
STRANGE MAGIC is in theaters Friday, January 23rd!
STRANGE MAGIC is a madcap fairy tale musical inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Popular songs from the past six decades help tell the tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion. Lucasfilm Animation Singapore and Industrial Light & Magic, which created the CGI animation for 2011’s Academy Award®-winning film “Rango,” bring to life the fanciful forest turned upside down with world-class animation and visual effects.
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Disclosure: Travel and experiences for were provided by Disney, I was not compensated for press coverage.