Old School Lane’s Nickelodeon Tribute: Interview with Kristin Fairlie
What better way to conclude our review ofÂ Little BearÂ than to talk to Little Bear himself…or herself. Wow! Deja vu! Little Bear’s voice was done by Canadian actress Kristin Fairlie. She’s started her acting career when she was 8-years-old debuting in the 1995 filmÂ The Scarlet LetterÂ as Faith Stonehall. She had won her first Young Artist of Hollywood in the Showtime movieÂ The Sweetest GiftÂ at 14.
But she’s mostly known for her voice acting in shows such asÂ Madeline, Babar: The King of Elephants,Â and theÂ Total DramaÂ series. But she’ll always be known as the sweet innocent Little Bear. Nowadays, she’s been in a few indie movies such asÂ MoonpointÂ andÂ Jesus Henry ChristÂ and she’s the founder of a website named Hate and Heartbreak. Hope that you enjoy this amazing interview with Kristin Fairlie.
Patricia- What were your favorite shows/TV shows growing up?
Kristin- My favorite shows when I was really little wereÂ Road to Avonlea, Fresh Prince, The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show, Jem, Rainbow Brite, My Pet MonsterÂ andÂ Full House.
Kevin- At what age did you decide that you wanted to pursue your life into acting?
Kristin- I was eight years old when I started in the industry, but I began making short films with the my siblings and the kids on my street when I was 6 : ) I always wanted to be an actor.
Patricia- Who are your influences?
Kristin- A lot of people inspire me in my life. I love Kate Moss’ style, I love Julianne Moore, Joan Allen and Fiona Apple. Anne Heche is someone who’s friendship, strength and advice had an incredible impact on me, I admire her lot as an actress and a person. Sarah Polley is someone I have looked up to since I was a little girl. And I love Frank Ocean. Just want that to be known lol.
Patricia- What was the audition process like forÂ The Scarlet Letter, The Sweetest Gift, andÂ The Virgin Suicides?
Kristin- I auditioned forÂ The Scarlet LetterÂ when I was 12, for director Roland Joffe. He was incredibly kind and so inspiring to work with. I remember being at the callback with him and him asking me if I’d like to go to BC and Nova Scotia to shoot the film. My parents were excited that I would be working with Robert Duvall, Gary Oldman and Demi Moore and I was too young to know who they were! Stuart Margolin, the director of The Sweetest Gift was a guiding light for me on that film. And meeting Sofia Coppola was inspiring and a little overwhelming! I am a huge fan of hers.
Kevin- What was it like working alongside actors such as Demi Moore, Robert Duvall, Gary Oldman, Anne Heche, and Laura Dern?
Kristin- These were some of the greatest experiences of my life. Anne became a dear friend to me while filmingÂ Gracie’s ChoiceÂ and gave me advice I will cherish for the rest of my life. Demi Moore is one of the strongest and coolest women I have ever met. Robert Duvall and Gary Oldman were so sweet to me and so talented, and Laura Dern is incredible, I took a lot away from acting opposite her. She truly has a gift. And she’s inÂ Jurassic Park! Favourite trilogy of all time 🙂
Patricia- What funny memories can you tell us while working on the set for those movies?
Kristin- OnÂ The Virgin Suicides, there was this boy on set that was one of the most handsome guys I’ve ever seen. He was really nice, and I wanted to get a picture of him just because I couldn’t believe how cute he was, so I asked him to take a picture of me and Sofia Coppola, and then I was like we might as well get aÂ picture too and Sofia took a picture of the two of us. I went to school and showed my girlfriends the picture like look how hot this guy is! About a month laterÂ The FacultyÂ andÂ Halloween H20Â came out and the boy in my photo was suddenly one of the biggest stars in the world. It was Josh Hartnett.
The Sweetest GiftÂ was jokes and laughter for the entire shoot. Marc Donato (Degrassi) and Dylan Provencher (Wind at my Back) played my brothers and we bonded over a summer of playing with the animals on set and learning Southern accents together. The entire cast and crew were amazing, working with Helen Shaver, Tisha Cambell and legend Diahann Carroll was a great learning experience to be working opposite such strong and talented women.
OnÂ The Scarlet Letter, there were two oxen meant to pull a cart. They had different white patches of fur on their faces, and production wanted their faces to be matching. They (safely) dyed the oxen’s faces brown to match and their fur turned purple so they had to be replaced! I hope those oxen got their chance at stardom on another movie.
Patricia- What was your reaction when you won the Young Artist of Hollywood Award Winner forÂ The Sweetest Gift?
Kristin- I was so honoured. Showtime flew me to Los Angeles to attend the ceremony and when my name was called I almost didn’t hear it it was so surreal. I barely remember accepting the award, I was vibrating with excitement and nerves. Afterwards I stood onstage with the other winners, and I looked to my left and right and realized I was standing in between Jena Malone and Dominique Swain and I felt really proud to be in such fantastic actresses company. Also Leonardo DiCaprio who I love had previously won a YAA so I felt like that might lead me to work with him one day lol fingers crossed.
Kevin- What made you decide to go into voice acting?
Kristin- I have always wanted to be a Disney princess, and I didn’t know that it was even possible to be a voice on a cartoon series. Who doesn’t love cartoons? It never occurred to me that I could be a cartoon. When I got my first voice audition, I walked into the studio and though you’re kidding me. I just talk and you record it and make me a cartoon?? It was mind-blowing. My first cartoon voice was Nicole on the cartoonÂ Madeline. I got to speak in a French accent and sing songs with the other girls in the studio. I was very small so I had to stand on a milk crate to be able to sing at the mic with the other girls. It was too much fun.
Patricia- What was the audition process like forÂ Little Bear?
Kristin- Originally, I auditioned for the roles of Duck and Hen. I read the same voice for both of them. Casting told me the show was for preschool kids, so I thought of the voice I heard in my head when I was learning to read and I guess Little Bear is what it sounded like lol. The casting director came into the vocal booth and said the producers would like me to read for Little Bear. And I was like for sure, which one is Little Bear? And they told me the show was calledÂ Little Bear. I think I used the same voice. Afterwards they gave me 4 Little Bear books and said they would see me soon. When I began recording the show, Maurice Sendak came to visit the studio, and he drew a Little Bear picture in each one of my books which are some of my most treasured possessions.
Patricia- Did you read the books before auditioning for the show?
Kristin- I had never heard ofÂ Little BearÂ when I auditioned for the show. I had no idea the impactÂ Little BearÂ would have on people and it’s something I am so proud to have been a part of. I am continuously surprised by the variety of people I meet at Fan Expo and Comic Con that hug me and tell me that they loveLittle Bear. He is loved by all ages 🙂
Patricia- What characteristics do you share with Little Bear?
Kristin- Little Bear is kind and he has integrity. He always stays true to himself and he cares about his friends and family very much. He has an amazing imagination and always tries his best. I like to think those are the characteristics we share.
Kevin- What was it like working with Maurice Sendak and Else Holmelund Minarik?
Kristin- I unfortunately never had the opportunity to meet Else Holmelund Minarik, but I did get to spend some time with the wonderful Maurice Sendak when he came to a recording session. He was so interesting and he was very pleased with the series and how it turned out. He said my Little Bear voice was just right 🙂
Kevin- What would a typical day be like for voicing an episode?
Kristin- My mom would pick me up from school at lunch time, and we would head down to the city to the studio.Â Little BearÂ was almost always recorded as an ensemble, so I would be in the studio all afternoon while different characters joined me and others left. Usually about 4-6 hours per record. There was a lot of jokes and laughter. Sometimes I would record pick up lines for episodes already completed, so I would get to watch a screen and see a snippet of the episode and record my lines along with Little Bear’s mouth movements. That was fun.
Kevin- What was your favorite episode?
Kristin- I wouldn’t even know where to begin I have so many favorites. I loved “The Puddle Jumper” episode. Zen frog was so funny to listen to. I love when Little Bear goes to the moon. The first three episodes are so dear to me, especially “What Will Little Bear Wear”? as they were my first ever and set the tone for the five seasons of the series.
Patricia- Do you still keep in contact with the creators or the voice actors fromÂ Little Bear?
Kristin- I still work often with Director Merle Anne Ridley, and I’m in touch with Tracy Ryan (Duck), Amos Crawley (Owl) and Janet Laine Green (Mother Bear)
Patricia- What was it like doing The Little Bear Movie?
Kristin- It was incredible. I recorded the film with my brother Kyle Fairlie, who was the voice of Cub, the bear cub that Little Bear helps to find his family. Afterwards I got to record the voice for the plush Little Bear that sold at Target so that was a pretty amazing experience.
Patricia- How did it feel that you were doing this movie alongside your younger brother?
Kristin- It is one of my proudest moments and something we both cherish.
Kevin- When was the last time you watched an episode ofÂ Little Bear?
Kristin- I see it all the time flipping channels.
Patricia- After over 12 years afterÂ Little BearÂ was on air, do you think that the show has held up well?
Kristin- I thinkÂ Little BearÂ is hands down the best cartoon for young children on television.Â Little BearÂ is about friendship, family, nature and using your imagination. It teaches people to be kind and I think that is an important lesson at any age.
Kevin- What was the audition process like for theÂ Total DramaÂ series?
Kristin- Just like every voice audition, you go to the studio, read the character description, look at the sketch of the character, and then interpret their voice how you feel it should sound.
Patricia- What characteristics do you share with Bridgette?
Kristin- Bridgette is kind, friendly, determined, she loves to sing, she loves animals and she’s clumsy. I constantly bang my elbows off everything.
Kevin- Do you enjoy singing or acting more?
Kristin- I don’t think I could live without either. It’s a toss up.
Patricia- What was it like doingÂ MoonpointÂ andÂ Jesus Henry Christ?
Kristin-Â MoonpointÂ was hilarious fun.Â Jesus Henry ChristÂ was one of my proudest moments in my career so far.
Patricia- What was it like working with Julia Roberts, Toni Collette, and Michael Sheen?
Kristin- I didn’t have scenes with Toni or Michael, but I met Toni who is lovely. Julia Roberts. What can I say? She is an angel among us. She was so sweet, and flattering. She told me she had everything to do with me being cast in the film. I squeezed her arm when I thanked her for having me in the movie and afterwards I thought, Richard Gere touched those arms! Ha ha.
Patricia- Can you tell us what made you come up with the idea for Hate and Heartbreak?
Kristin- I have always wanted my own label and clothing store. When we began building the website, I wanted the name to be universal and something that everyone could relate to. I was trying to think of a positive name but I had lost someone in my life to cancer and I was so consumed with anger and heartbreak. And then I realized that everyone can relate to that. We all experience those emotions at some point in our lives and they are inescapable. Even if you ignore them, they will bubble up in some way at some point in your life, and it is only when you embrace those emotions that you are able to break free and move forward from them. And I want to support people through that darkness and be a symbol of strength in the face of hate and heartbreak. I want to let people know that it’s okay to feel those things and that they are never alone in feeling that way and it’s okay to move forward. You will come through it stronger than you knew was possible.
Kevin- When people approach you, what voice do they demand that you do the most?
Kristin- Little Bear.
Patricia- What are your reactions of people approaching you and saying that they watchedÂ Little BearÂ growing up and they loved your character portrayal?
Kristin- It makes my heart full. People tell me I was a huge part of their childhood, or their children’s, and I’m so honoured to have touched so many lives.
Patricia- What are your upcoming projects?
I have several projects in the works, but I have just completed a guest star on the CTV /Fox International SeriesÂ The Listener. I am very excited for everyone to see the episode! It is episode 2 of Season 4 🙂
Patricia- Alright then. Kristin, thank you so much for the interview.
Kristin- Thank you!
For more information about Kristin, visit her website at hateandheartbreak.com. Follow her on FaceBook and Twitter @kristinfairlie. That’s all for now. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. Thanks for reading.
-Patricia and Kevin