Winnie the Pooh as a Zen master? Christopher Robin star Hayley Atwell seems to think so.
The actress recently sat down with EW to discuss the multigenerational love of Pooh, revisiting childhood, and the profound nature of everyone’s favorite silly old bear.
“What this film does beautifully is capture the personalities of all these characters that are so known and so well loved, Atwell said.
She added that the new Disney movie offers more than a dose of nostalgia — it also stands as a reminder of the important lessons hidden beneath Pooh’s seemingly nonsensical words. “Audiences will see the authentic Pooh bear that they know, and you have all these kind of typical Pooh-isms of like, ‘People say nothing’s impossible, but I do nothing every day,’” Atwell said. “They’re kind of very naïve but actually very profound words of wisdom that [are] also very funny. His lack of self-awareness is also very charming and funny, you know. And he doesn’t mean it, but he says things that you can almost come out the idea of like a Zen master would say.”
Though Pooh and his pals have traditionally been animated in 2-D, Christopher Robin brings them into the real world via CGI, and Atwell assures that the new look is just right.
“They look like loved, worn bears and toys,” she said. “They don’t look like kind of new, flashy, glossy versions of themselves. They look like they’ve lived for a very long time, and yet this is the film where you see what they’ve been able to do in terms of the technology to bring these characters to life.… The amount of detail makes it feel so much more real, and their expressions are so human-like.”
And while Pooh and his friends play an important role in the film, it all comes back to family for the title character, played by Ewan McGregor.
“This is a story of a man who has gone into the rat race of life on this kind of hamster wheel of trying to provide for his family, but in trying to provide for his family, he ends up neglecting his family,” Atwell said. “So he’s lost in a way, and then I think when he has the opportunity to revisit his childhood, he’s kind of reminded of what those early connections were for him.”
Watch the video above for more from Atwell. Christopher Robin opens Aug. 3.