Kevin McKidd’s been stepping out of Seattle Grace’s OR into some very dreamy digital worlds lately.
The Scotland-born “Grey’s Anatomy” star is branching out of his small screen role as Dr. Owen Hunt to tackle some wildly imaginative projects: first up is “Bunraku,” writer-director Guy Moshe’s wildly imaginative tale in hybrid Western/Samurai/film noir mashup, shot in an elaborately styled CGI environment; then he'll follow that with Pixar’s highly anticipated Scottish adventure “Brave.” McKidd gives PopcornBiz the inside scoop on his pixel-packed projects.
PopcornBiz: “Bunkaru" a very visually inventive movie, making elaborate use of green screen backdrops and CG sets. It must have required using more of your imagination than usual to make it come together.
Kevin McKidd: Yeah. It was very interesting working on this movie, playing Killer Number Two. It was one of these movies where you could really let loose a little more than usual. It's not a kitchen sink drama, by any means, and it has a theatrically to it that's intentional, so that's fun. I'm a theater-trained actor, and so I really get the chance to sort of flex those muscles and throw myself around and do dance moves and martial arts and sort of be a theatrical villain. So I had an absolute ball and I took to this role with relish, especially because I'd done quite mainstream stuff in the years leading up to that.
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PB: Where were your skill levels on the physical things – the martial arts, the dancing – that you get to do in the movie, and then how were those skills when you ended?
McKidd: As a martial artist? Zero. As a dancer? Ask my wife: I'm not much of a dancer. I had to go to dance class for a couple of months and do martial arts training for a couple of months leading up to this, pretty intensively to get to the point where I could convincingly play this kind of strange villain in this movie. I hope I did a good job. I worked my ass off at it, and I got a lot of out of the training. I continued doing it for quite some afterwards just as a thing that I enjoyed doing. So I had an absolute ball in the preparation.
PB: You have another imagination-heavy project coming up - Pixar's highly-anticipated "Brave." Talk about your experience making that.
McKidd: Amazing! My experience doing that is still ongoing. I mean, I've been working on it with them for three years and I've still got some more sessions to do. I'm still pinching myself that I'm working with Pixar. I've been a Pixar fan since they opened their doors for business, as most of us are. So for them to come and tap me on the shoulder and say, 'We want you,' felt like a huge endorsement for me as an actor, I have to say. It's not like winning an Oscar, but it does feel like if Pixar wants to use you then you're legitimately considered a good actor, so that felt like a huge compliment to me. Getting to work with them, they're amazingly collaborative and incredibly warm as a team, as a company. I just saw them this weekend. I was in Anaheim at the D23 Convention. We had a ball. I'm playing two roles in the movie. I'm playing Young MacGuffin, who's a friend to [the lead character] Merida, and also his father, Lord MacGuffin. Young MacGuffin has a problem: he has such a thick Scottish accent that nobody can understand him apart from his father, and so his father has to translate. So I get to play two roles in the movie and there's no downside in my opinion. It’s been a blast, and I think it's going to be a beautiful movie, a great sort of adventure movie with a female lead for the first time ever for Pixar.
PB: What do you want to say about what's coming up for you on the new season of “Grey's?”
McKidd: Well, it's an exciting year for my character. He's just been made the chief of surgery for the entire hospital, so he has a big learning curve this season, is having to learn fast and on his feet and he changes the dynamic of the entire hospital. His relationship with Christina is pretty hot and complicated. I'm also directing – I start prepping my second episode in two days time and then I might do a third at the end of the season, so that's exciting to me. That's a real challenge. After directing last season I get to go in and do my second episode, be less anxious and try and enjoy it a little more. So, yeah, a busy year!
“Bunraku” debuts on video on demand Sept. 1 and in theaters Sept. 30. "Brave" is scheduled for release June 22, 2012