Abominable, the latest feature film from DreamWorks Animation, tells the story of a lost Yeti found by a young girl and her friends. Yi, played by Chloe Bennet, is a teenager living in Shanghai who needs an adventure such as this one to remember the value of family.
As an actress, though, Bennet was well-aware of the value of green screen experience and diverse storytelling perspectives. She shared her thoughts on how both those things helped make Abominable so special in an exclusive interview with Screen Rant.
You’ve worked with Marvel in animation before. How did that help season you, to prepare for something like your own feature animation?
Chloe Bennet: Yeah, honestly, [Marvel’s Agents of] Shield was such a crazy experience in terms of the longevity of the show, and just the wide variety of things that they asked of every part of that production: acting, writing, everything.
But the biggest part that helped me with the film was actually how much green screen I've worked with on Shield, especially using powers and all that stuff. There's a lot of the show [where] you're really reacting to absolutely nothing. Most of the really intense scenes on Shield, I'm acting to a piece of tape – because the shots are specific, or it’s the powers and there's nothing there. So, a lot of the bigger scenes of the more emotional parts of Shield, you're acting with a piece of tape or something very technical.
That made it a lot easier to ultimately go into a recording booth, and then have to imagine everything, because there's nothing there. Shield definitely prepped me for that.
Nice. There's a lot of vibrancy found in this film, and it's attributed to the Chinese culture. One of the cool things is that it's built in the fabric of this story. How freeing is that for you, to have such a diverse group of people working behind and in front of the camera on this one?
Chloe Bennet: It means, honestly, everything to me. Diversity is such a normal thing to me, growing up with six brothers, all different races; with my dad being Chinese and my mom being from Europe. I grew up in such a beautiful bubble of diversity that I thought that that was normal. And then I kind of was hit in the face with the real world, and of Hollywood and going, “Oh, that's not at all what people are like or have experienced.”
People see things very differently, and people's worth is dependent on their gender and their race. That was a really overwhelming feeling to feel when I first got out to LA, and [I] immediately was determined to make sure that the stories that are being told are being told by the people who have experienced it.
When you have a white person or white man or a man – or someone who hasn't lived an authentic life – giving the narration of what it's like to be that person, you're not going to have the right story. And so, what you're ultimately doing is trickling down information that's a false identity. That's what happened to me a lot as a young Asian woman – and everyone has a different version of that.
I was told that I was supposed to be one way. That if I was going to be Asian, I had to be the dorky girl; I had to be the nail lady; I had to be the whatever it was that they decided that it was going to be. And I was like, “I just don't… I'm me, and that's beautiful. And I shouldn't have to be reduced to one part of me.”
And so, this film is made by women; is produced by women; is written and directed and starring. It's like, the story is completely authentic. It's completely about this Chinese girl, set in China – but it's not about that at all at the same time. Which is my favorite part.
- Abominable (2019) release date: Sep 27, 2019