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An Interview with
Jason Scott Lee & Tia Carrere
("Lilo & Stitch")

StudioLA's Jim Ferguson chats with Tia Carrere and Jason Scott Lee of the Disney's hit animated movie "Lilo and Stitch." Foregoing 3D animation in lieu of natural watercolors, "Lilo and Stitch" tells the story of an orphaned Hawaiian girl named Lilo who happens to befriend a destructive little alien monster named Stitch. Is the power of ohana ("family" in Hawaiian) enough to save this fractured family?

Jim: Congratulations to both of you on the voice work that you did in Lilo and Stitch, it's very, very good, and I really do mean that. I have an eight year old granddaughter; I can't wait till I take her to see this movie, I know she's going to love it.

Tia: She could purchase some of the plush toys out in the lobby! (laughter)

Jim: Oh, I already have!

Tia: She's going to love them!

Jim: She will. I want to get technical at the beginning, just to start with. When I interviewed Tom Hanks for Toy Story, and Mr. Hanks has won a few Oscars, and he's a very good actor, but he said getting in that booth, doing the voice work for Toy Story, was the most difficult thing he ever had to do as an actor. Do you guys know where he's coming from or why he's saying something like that?

The lovely and talented Tia Carrere as Nani

Tia: Well, absolutely. I mean, you're in a sterile environment. You're called upon to just imagine everything. You don't know what the world looks like around you. I hadn't met my little sister, Daveigh [Chase, voice of Lilo], I hadn't met her until last night, so everything is taking place in your head. And it's - I dunno - it kinda sucks the energy out of you. So you really have to amp yourself up even more so for something like this, where you're not on camera.

Jim: Yeah, that's exactly what David [Ogden Stiers] and Kevin [McDonald] both said, who played Jamba and…

Tia: Pleakley.

Jim: Pleakley, that they just met! And they're a comedy team, in the film! Do you find it difficult to do the voice stuff, Jason?

Jason: Yeah, definitely. You know, it's not easy. I think, you can - like you said - you kinda gotta pump yourself up. There's nothing to play off of, you're imagination's kind of feeling around, and groping in the dark about this and that, and about your relationship to who and how you're gonna sound.

Click to read more movie reviews about Lilo and Stitch!

Jim: Yeah, I think the first time we met was Map of the Human Heart, and here you had an ensemble cast to work with, you know, other actors. But, it had to be wonderful, being both of you, being from Hawaii, and living there, and growing up, to play voices of characters from Hawaii. That had to be fun for you to do.

Tia: Well, the question of a Disney animated feature had come up previously. The casting director was looking for me for Mulan, and for some reason I was working in Eastern Europe, and my agent at the time kinda dropped the ball, and I was really upset about it because I wanted to be a part of the Disney, you know, the history.

So I was really disappointed, and then when Lilo and Stitch came up, being that it's based in Hawaii, I'm from Hawaii, it was just a perfect fit, and how they say 'Things happen for a reason.' It certainly happened for a reason, because with this one, I felt like I could put my fingerprints on it. And we're both from Hawaii, he still lives there! So they couldn't have hired two better people for the job, I think.

Jim: Jason, would you agree with me, your characters, being both of you from Hawaii, gives it a sense of credibility?

Jason: Absolutely. Absolutely. Cause, there's something you can't duplicate about the way. Even if you got someone say, you know who wasn't from Hawaii, and they said, "Okay, I want you to speak English, and it sounds like this," I would know, as someone from Hawaii, hey, that, that does not ring true. That's not really true. And the customs, the culture, the rhythms, and the tempo, and… I think, yeah when you talk about things, or when they ask you to improvise a certain something, it just comes naturally.

Tia: Yeah, yeah. I came up with a lot of different improvisations, too.

The handsome and talented Jason Scott Lee as David Kawena

Jason: Yeah, some stuff that she came up, I couldn't believe I remember that from elementary school!

Tia: Right! (laughter)

Jason: (laughter) Oh my god, you actually said that! (laughter)

Jim: A comment to both of you on a theme that I love: ohana. That's what this animated, wonderful film, Lilo and Stitch, is all about, would you agree?

Jason: Yes.

Tia: I think that's always at the heart and soul of Disney's features, is the feeling of a family, family values. But I think, putting it in Hawaii, and ohana, and it's… See, it's a very modern and complex story because it's… mother and father are missing. The sister's raising the sister, you know? Social Services is going to take the sister away. So these are very heavy issues. And I think, by putting it in Hawaii, and adding that whole element to it, and having the Stitch character, the villain that becomes a hero, coming from outer space, it took a very difficult and complex story and put it into a simpler, kinder time and made it easier to digest, the heart and soul of the family.

Jim: Of the family, yeah. Your character's so important, and I like what Jason does with David. He's always positive.

Jason: He's very accepting. He's very sort of like, "Yeah… let's… okay," you know? And I think to have that sort of a character standing by like that, is really sort of a nice stronghold for everything that's chaotic that's going on. 'Cause it's sort of something they can always fall back on.

Tia Carrere
Tia Carrere
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Tia: That's also very Hawaii, too.

Jason: Yeah, it's very Hawaiian.

Jim: Yes it is.

Jason: Through thick and thin, and that whole thing.

Tia: "Positive energy." (laughter)

Jim: Well, thanks to the work that you did and your talents, I believe this is going to be a classic that's going to be around a long time.

Tia: Knocking on wood. (knocks on wood and laughs)

Jim: Yeah. (laughter) And I want to thank you both so much, it's good to see you. And I want to tell our viewers, do not miss Lilo and Stitch, you're going to have a wonderful time. Take the kids. Thank you so much.

Jason and Tia: Thank you.

AsianConnections wishes to thank Disney, Tia Carrere, Jason Scott Lee, Jim Ferguson, and AC's Charles Min for making this interview possible.


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