The voice actor who’s far from blue about her latest role.
Raya Abirached admits that her talent lies in talking rather than acting. So who better to be the voice of Smurf Willow in the latest Smurf movie, The Lost Village? Having already voiced Matilda in the Arabic version of Angry Birds, Raya was the perfect choice for the loveable leader of Smurf Grove; and let’s face it, who’s not a fan of the Smurfs?
Hi. How excited were you when you heard you would be dubbing for Smurfs in Arabic?
I was very excited as I had always been a big fan of the Smurfs and as I already had previous experience with Angry Birds. I had enjoyed the experience and I was sure this would be a great experience too. Unfortunately, I could not go to the premiere of Angry Birds due to my pregnancy.
What is Smurf Willow’s role in the movie?
Smurf Willow is a leader of a group of Smurfettes who live in a forbidden forest. She is almost the female counterpart of Papa Smurf.
Do you find any resemblance in the character of Smurf Willow with your own?
Yes, I think we have similarities in terms of strong confidence, showing authority and managing and leading. However, Smurf Willow is quiet and calm whereas I am very active and the opposite in this regard.
Did you consider this as a challenge? Why and how did you overcome it?
Yes, it was a challenge. It was not about being myself but rather understanding the character of Smurf Willow properly and thoroughly so that the viewers see and feel her as a character of the movie rather than trying to find me as they are already familiar with me in my public life.
Which is your favourite character in the movie besides Smurf Willow?
Smurfette for sure! I also liked one of the new Smurfs we see in this movie.
What was the biggest surprise you discovered about the Smurfs while dubbing?
The biggest surprise was to discover that there are more hidden Smurfs other than the ones we are already familiar with.
What special preparation did you do to get the best results for dubbing?
Well, I had excellent support from Sony Pictures; the team was extremely talented and supportive. Also, my previous experience with Angry Birds helped so it was not very difficult and also because it had already been dubbed in English by Julia Roberts. I basically had to follow her lip movement and it helped a lot.
What is the response of your family and friends?
They were all very excited; and who’s not a fan of the Smurfs?!
The whole family is a big fan of the little blue creatures. My niece was my date for the Premiere in Beirut. She was extremely excited and the biggest fan of Smurfs!
Any unforgettable moments during the dubbing that you would like to share with our readers?
It was, in general, a great experience working with so many talented people and I enjoyed every bit of it.
As a mother yourself how important do you think is the need for Arabic content in this region?
To me it is very important. Dubbing works well with animated films; plus it’s nice for kids as they can engage with it more in a language they’re more familiar with.
Would you like to get involved in similar projects in the future?
Yes, if there is a sequel to Angry Birds or Smurfs, I would love to work again on similar projects.
How often do you go to the movies?
I am a very big fan of movies. I go 5 times or more every week to movies. I really enjoy the experience.
Your message for your fans and our readers in Kuwait:
I was very overwhelmed from the love and response I got from the people of Kuwait during the premiere, right from the airport to the cinema, and I want to thank all of them for showing their love and support. You are amazing!
Your message for our magazine:
Keep supporting cinema. I know Kuwait is very supportive to all kind of cinema and I urge people to go to the cinema and experience the big screen and enjoy all the options you can such as the 3D, IMAX, 4D and everything else. Enjoy the Smurfs movie!