For streaming service Apple TV Plus, it has always been about quality over quantity, and their latest venture into the world of animated movies proves just that. Luck, a heartwarming tale of found family and fatalistic fantasies, is a film that puts character first, and it’s in these characters that it is guaranteed to win audiences over.
Luck is the story of Sam Greenfield (voiced by Eva Noblezada), a young lady who, having spent her life in a foster home, is about to age out and head into the world on her own. Leaving behind Hazel, a child who has essentially become her little sister, isn’t easy, and Sam’s inherent bad luck only makes life more difficult. That is until she stumbles upon a hidden world of magical monsters in the Land of Luck, and with the help of Bob the cat (Simon Pegg), Sam teaches everyone the value of teamwork and selflessness.
That might sound like your standard Pixar movie premise, but Luck excels thanks to the focus on its characters. The Digital Fix was lucky enough to attend a roundtable with two of the voice actors behind the movie, Eva Noblezada and Flula Borg.
Bringing this kids movie to life was a challenge in itself, with the obstacle of the Covid-19 pandemic forcing the filmmakers’ hands into doing most of their work remotely. As with many in the world now, video calls became the norm for Peggy Holmes (director) and her cast.
The creative team and the actors were kept apart for pretty much the entire production, a barrier the magic of animation is perfectly equipped to overcome. Eva Noblezada believes the process didn’t hinder the end result at all.
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“I have actually never met anybody except for Simon [Pegg] in real life. I didn’t do any work with anybody, and you can credit how wonderful it still sounds because of our director,” Noblezada explained. “Her energy and her direction is just out of this world. And it really allowed all of us to be in the moment as you experienced the movie. It was very strange to be by ourselves, but it turned out to be incredible.”
“Peggy had so much enthusiasm and gave us so much freedom. I felt like we could try things out and it was okay,” Flula Borg added. “In short, it was a very wonderful experience to do this with Peggy because she just let us do it.”
At the heart of Luck is a story of love and kindness, with Sam doing everything she can to help Hazel enjoy a better life than she has endured. Noblezada is particularly proud of the message this family movie puts out into the world.
“I think it’s very important because not only is it kind, it shows how much Sam is loving but also how much she wants to love. And she knows what the experience is like living growing up in foster care. She doesn’t want hazel to experience that same thing,” Noblezada said.
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“Sam really wants a forever family. And that’s how she lives and exists in order to attract who she wants in her family,” Noblezada continued. “Hazel is really lucky to have Sam, and Sam is definitely lucky to have Hazel. It’s a really beautiful relationship.”
This is not family in the traditional sense, of course. But in the modern world, the idea that a nuclear family is the only route to happiness is an archaic and irrelevant belief. Luck reinforces the idea that the family we choose is just as important as the family we are born into.
“I think having a community where you feel seen, where you feel heard, and feel respected is very important. Having a family of people that you know you would do anything for that person, and you know that’s reciprocated. It’s so beautiful,” Noblezada mused. “I don’t want to say it’s rare because I hope everybody has that group of people, but family is everything. It’s important to feel accepted.”
Preparing to take on such an emotional story posed a challenge to its performers, too, but it’s one they approached with positivity. Luckily, both Noblezada and Borg had their methods for getting into character for this feel-good movie.
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“When I do theatre, that involves the whole body being a vessel to tell something or to say something or to feel something, and I did struggle a little bit knowing that, even though my body was there in the studio, the only thing that was being captured was my voice,” Noblezada admitted. “So it almost was more energy to focus all of your acting into your voice, which was a very curious process. But I learned a lot, and I thought it was a great experience.”
“Sometimes they will show you a picture [of your character]. But sometimes I say don’t show me the picture. I didn’t want to get too in my head,” Borg added. “Just tell me. What is he? What does he feel like? What’s his essence? What’s his cologne, and then I just pretend that’s what I smell like, and I just go for it.”
Borg may be responsible for adding genuine comedy movie moments to Luck, but his character carries a certain legacy with him. Though his unicorn avatar may be called Jeff for the most part, his original name is actually Heimdall. We asked Borg about the mythical ties to his character.
“Oh, man, the best thing to do is ignore all legacies, stay hydrated, and perform,” Borg explained in his typical tongue-in-cheek manner. “If you start thinking about legacy [it makes things difficult]. Don’t worry, be happy, I say.”
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Borg is clearly more of an ‘it’ll be alright on the night’ performer, which makes sense given his roots in improvisational comedy. For Noblezada however, the approach to her role was far more pragmatic and precise.
“A construction worker is not going to just take one tool to their job, they will take their whole toolbox, and that’s how I feel about acting. Thankfully it doesn’t come as a physical thing, I have it all in my head,” Noblezada explained. “Anytime you play any kind of character there’s always a baseline of questions you ask yourself to inform what you bring to the stage.”