Brave Producer Discusses Director Controversy, Trailers, & Merida

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Katherine Sarafian has worked at Pixar for almost eighteen years, since their first film, Toy Story. She’s the producer of their upcoming Brave, featuring a flame-haired Scottish princess named Merida and recently did an interview with /Film about the process. Read on for some interesting words from her on the film’s changing title, their director controversy, and when we can expect a new trailer. 

Brenda Chapman, was originally set to direct Brave until Pixar replaced her with Mark Andrews. Chapman kept mostly quite about the change-up but did speak a bit in December. /Film asked Sarafian for her thoughts on the controversy.

We didn’t talk at the time of a backlash of it, because that would have implied that we would let our decision… that Pixar makes decisions based on backlash. At Pixar, every decision that is made is about what the film needs and I think Mark [Andrews] and I have both been surprised at how much has been made of it, because really it happens to much in the industry and particularly in animation. Director changes happen all of the time, it’s kind of part of the creative process much like the loss of… It’s definitely a higher stakes issue, but I can’t quite compare it to the loss of snow or loss of a story sequence, but the idea that we are constantly changing the process and evolving it, but these changes do happen and creative differences do arise and it was no different here. Certainly we’ve heard a lot about that.

And what about the other big change that got some reaction as well, the title of the film? “Right, first off the title from the very beginning was Brave, so Bear and the Bow was actually a later detour and then we came back to Brave,” said Sarafian. “The earliest pitch, which was before my time, was way back when Brenda was just finishing Cars and that was really, I believe the seed of it was very much this core of a mother and a daughter and a great rift that would have this magical element to it, some fairytale elements, and a lot of action. That was the seed of the story and that there would be a father and Merida would be more eye to eye with her dad. The other elements of it were fleshed out over time as other Pixar stories are.”

But as you may have seen in the trailers, there are bears. “I think we are being careful not to give away too much about what happens later in the film, but I think we are teasing it when you see shots of bears and chases. There’s big action and we are trying to tease that, so people know that they are going to be getting a lot of different stuff,” she said, adding that we will see more trailers and TV spotsilers and TV spots. “We have another trailer coming out soon and then you will see more TV spots, but we are coming to the end of the trailer blitz.”

Merida is voiced in the film by Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald but it was Reese Witherspoon who originally had the role. /Film remarked that going with a Scot seemed like a no-brainer. “You would think so, but actually the character at her core, Merida, is less about being Scottish and more about being a willful teenager and Reese really knows how to play willful teenagers,” she said. “She’s got that great youthful quality and when you think about her body of work, you could probably think of ‘Oh, actually I can see it.’ Combined with a dialogue coach and an accent, then you could really get that teen spirit in there, but unfortunately it is a long haul and schedules are really hard to align, so she had to step out.”

Are you excited for Brave?

(via /Film)

Previously in Brave

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Jill Pantozzi
Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."