Press Conference: The Cast And Crew Of ‘Flora & Ulysses’ Talk About Their Exciting New Superhero Movie
Flora & Ulysses is now streaming on Disney Plus! If you haven’t already, check out our review of the delightful and adorable film right here!
Last week, I had the chance to attend the global press conference for the film, which you watch below and check out some of the highlights right under.
The conference started off with the moderator asking author and executive producer, Kate DiCamillo, about where the idea came along for the original book:
DiCamillo: So my mom had a vacuum cleaner that she loved and she passed away in 2009. In the last year of her life, she kept on saying ‘What’s gonna happen to the vacuum cleaner when I’m gone?’ And I was like, ‘Why are we worried about the vacuum cleaner? There are bigger things to worry about.’ But when she died I did as I promised her I would do, I took the vacuum cleaner so that it would have a good home, except that my mom had…the world’s most evil cat named Mildew and I couldn’t bring the vacuum cleaner into the house because of all the Mildew hair in it.
So I had to leave it out in the garage. Every time I pulled in the garage I would see the vacuum cleaner and it would make my heart hurt. It would make me miss my mother. Then, the spring after my mother died, there was a squirrel on the front steps of my house, draped dramatically across the steps, clearly in distress. And he wouldn’t move when I got close to him and I didn’t know what to do for him. I called my best friend who lives a block away and said, ‘Help me, there’s a squirrel dying on my front steps.’
She said, ‘Do you have a t-shirt and a shovel?’ and I said I do and she said, ‘Get the t-shirt, get the shovel, I will come over there and whack him over the head.’ And all of this made me think about E.B. White’s essay, Death of a Pig, how he was going out to feed a pig, and thought about ways to save the pig’s life. I thought about ways to save the squirrel’s life and I combined it with the vacuum cleaner in the garage, and that’s the story.
Ben Schwartz talked about adding his own improv to the movie:
Schwartz: The script that Brad wrote was so good and Lena gives us room to play, but with the knowledge of like we’re not gonna be like, ‘What’s going on? What’s that DINOSAUR over there?’ You know what I mean? It’s always within the boundaries of what that scene is, and only if it heightens either exactly the emotion or the comedy of the scene without bringing it somewhere elsewhere.
Although superhero landings have become synonymous with Deadpool, squirrels have actually been landing like that for years. Director of Flora & Ulysses, Lena Khan, had to say about the on squirrel superhero landings:
Khan: Squirrels do that. If you look up ‘squirrel superhero landing,’ you will find these squirrels because our CGI people were very particular. They’re like, ‘Ah, we don’t want to do things that don’t feel like what a squirrel would do.’ I’m like ‘Oh no, no. A squirrel does that.’ Google it and you will see.
Khan went on to talk about her love of the book and working with writer Brad Copeland:
Khan: Oh, yeah. Ulysses, I can’t get enough of him. But the blueprint for most of the stuff that happened is in the book, so we were kinda lucky there. Apparently, crazy things like vacuum cleaners and everything end up in Kate’s home. We got to play with all kinds of things and we got to play with stunts off of buildings and car crashes and then, it’s just kind of written in Kate’s brain and our writer Brad Copeland’s brain, who wrote for Arrested Development. So, he put all that kind of weirdness and fun into the movie, and then it was just kind of making it all weird, which, you know, our lovely cast did.”
DiCamillo talked about how the book compared to the movie and how well it was adapted:
DiCamillo: I had read Brad’s script and I liked it a lot. But, when I sat down and watched the movie, I watched it as my eight-year-old self. I didn’t compare it to the book or anything. I just was so in it that I can’t even. It feels to me like what happened between the script and the cast and the directing is that the themes of the book amplified. And so, the heart is even bigger and the wackiness is even bigger. And also just the power of connection has been amplified. And so, it’s just, whatever is different is more and better. Does that make sense?