We recently got to sit down with the stars of Flora and Ulysses. Ben Schwartz who plays George Buckman, an out of work comic book creator who is struggling to get his comic book going. And Matilda Lawler the star of the film. She plays Flora, a 10 year old cynic who discovers a squirrel with super powers and hopes her new friend can bring her family back together.
Ben Schwartz best known from his work on Parks and Rec, Duck Tales and Sonic The Hedgehog. He discusses how he learned everything he could from his young co-star through her master acting class. He also discusses how amazing it was to be part of the Disney Universe.
Matilda Lawler is an amazing actor and this film coincidentally is one of her first films. But after watching and speaking to her, you would never know this. She is truly a unicorn and she steals the film. Matilda discusses learning improv from Ben Schwartz and even shows some interest in coming back if they were ever to make a sequel.
You can watch this amazing family movie on Disney+ available to stream on February 19.
You guys. This movie was amazing. Ben, as always. You’re perfect, but Matilda. Oh my God it’s so amazing to think that this is your first film. What did you guys learn from each other? And how did you guys develop this chemistry that you guys had?
Ben Schwartz: Before I started the movie Matilda made me take something. She called her master class. I went to her house with her mom and dad who were lovely and talented people. And she said, “This is how you act” and for an hour every day for the first month. But it would be, it was like a masterclass. And then if I did something wrong, she looked at me like, “you’re better than that” You’re right. So I learned everything I know from that masterclass in Matilda. I don’t know what Matildas learned from me. I can’t imagine anything, but thank goodness for that masterclass that got me prepared and I really appreciate it. Sensei, she makes me call her sensei. I really appreciate it, sensei. But thank you very much for your gifts and Matilda. What did, what did you learn? I guess.
Matilda Lawler: What did I learn?
Ben Schwartz: From each other you see exactly. I’m so sorry, Jezzer. There’s nothing she could possibly learn at the top of the mountain looking down. Do you know what I mean?
Matilda Lawler: Well, I mean the big thing I guess, was improv because Ben’s such a big improv and onset. We did a lot of that and I’d never really done that before. So it was really cool he taught me a lot about that. And also he taught me a lot about what it’s like to be on a set and kind of helped me through all that.
Now this film is great and it’s like, it really brings you back to those for me, those family films that I enjoyed as a kid. What were some of your favorite things about this movie and what do you hope viewers take away from it?
Matilda Lawler: Well, I mean, the message is so great. It’s, especially during this time, people have been bringing this up, you know, we, we need hope during this time and we need to try and keep trying and have hope. So I think that it’s definitely important during this time to remember the message of the film.
Ben Schwartz: I think this movie also has a perfect answer. Matilda. I think also the movie has all the things that I loved growing up, watching Disney movies, like it has that heart. It has that comedy, it put in like its time in CG. Because Ulysses looks amazing. These superhero sequences look amazing. So it kind of encompasses all those things that really make me want to go see films and it can be shared with the entire family, which is really exciting for Matilda to do her first G-rated movie, because she has been doing the hard, R classic action movies for years. So it, that, that part as well has been very exciting.
Ben, you’ve voiced a lot of my favorite characters. You take a different role in this film. What stood out to you about the film that sets it apart?
Ben Schwartz: Yeah. You know what? The script was awesome. Brad Copeland, who wrote on Arrested Development and wrote a movie, I was in a while back, wrote the script off of Kate’s book. Who’s a genius? Matilda had read the book even before getting the script. So the words that’s kinda, what I always do is if the words get me then I get interested in, then I start learning about who else is involved in seeing something I want to play with. So the words really got me, but I did love that theme of hope. I did love the idea of being in a Disney movie, man, seeing that logo before it comes on, it’s something I’ve seen my entire life. Whether it’s like live action movies like Honey, I shrunk the kids or whether it’s like Aladdin or something like that. I’ve seen that logo my entire life. And I go to Disneyland. to be a part of that world, no pun intended, a little mermaid to be a part of that world was something I always wanted to do. So the idea that I could be a lead right next to Matilda starring in this movie is a joy sensei.
Now, Matilda, there are so many things that Flora does to help her kind of deal with her parents’ separation. Why was it so important for her to become a cynic?
Matilda Lawler: Kids have coping mechanisms and I think that she was doing that to protect herself because you know, she was so hurt over her family, not being together anymore and kind of, it felt like she was broken. So to deal with that, she kind of closed yourself off from the world and stopped hoping that something good would happen to her. And yeah, so that was, that’s pretty sad. But then you get to see her kind of gain hope throughout the movie, which is great.
That’s amazing. I guess my last question, would you guys be up for a sequel to this film?
Ben Schwartz: Tilly, you want to do it? Do you want to give Jezzer the scoop?
Matilda Lawler: Yes, I think I would probably.