While Benedict Cumberbatch grumbles it up in Illumination’s take on Dr. Seuss’s Christmas-hating The Grinch, young Cindy Lou Who brings some light into his world. We chatted with Cameron Seely, who gives voice to the young Whovillian.
Most of us first encountered Cameron Seely as the 11-year-old Helen Barnum in The Greatest Showman, but providing a voice for an animated character is quite different to appearing onscreen.
For starters, Cameron tells us that she recorded completely separately from Benedict Cumberbatch. Wouldn’t that make it all a bit of an odd experience?
“It makes it a little bit harder, because I don’t know his voice,” says Cameron. “His voice isn’t there with me – usually the director will be with me, but having The Grinch’s voice there would have made it… not easier, but it would have made more sense.”
So, which came first, recording the voices, or the animation?
“Well, they kind of did them at the same time,” Cameron tells us, “but usually I would record first, and I’m pretty sure they’d already know what they were going to animate and then I would record it and they would animate it.”
Cameron adds that she did eventually get to meet Cumberbatch.
“I did a couple of other interviews, and we were both there and when we were taking a break, we got to meet each other and it was really cool. He was very nice.”
They may have recorded separately, but Cameron definitely has a favourite thing about Cumberbatch’s performance as the fuzzy green curmudgeon.
“I like the way his voice sounds,” she tells us. “It’s just like a really good Grinch voice. I don’t know why, I just feel like if they’d picked someone else it just wouldn’t fit. I feel like his voice just really fit.”
The Grinch was far from an introduction to Dr. Seuss for Cameron, who’s grown up with his stories. But does she have a favourite?
“Yeah, I loved reading the Dr. Seuss books, and my favourite one was definitely Fox in Socks,” she says. “Because when I was at kindergarten, when my dad was the mystery reader he would come in and he’d bring the book and read it to everybody, and it was really fun.”
Ah, but did Cameron know all about the Grinch before this movie came along?
“Yeah, I definitely did know the story of the Grinch, and I really liked the original cartoon and the book.”
Cameron has lots of great memories from recording as Cindy Lou Who, but there’s one that sticks out as a favourite.
“There was one point when my face was in snow. I was trying to get out of the snow and I was messing around, I just did some like, “Mmm-mmm-mmmm!” in fake snow and that was really fun to do – and it was kind of funny.”
While The Grinch is often quite silly, like all good Christmas movies it also has a deeper meaning. Cindy Lou Who’s kindness is shared by Cameron in her favourite message from the film.
“I think the most important thing is that it’s all about kindness, and being inclusive to everybody,” she says. “If you see somebody who doesn’t have anybody to hang out with, or if you see somebody who’s really lonely and doesn’t really have many friends, include them, be their friend. Don’t just kind of ignore them, like ‘Oh somebody else will hang out with them’. Try to be inclusive, and be kind to everybody.”
This sweetness carries through to Cameron’s reply when we asked her what she’d say or do if she met somebody Grinchy.
“If they were all Grinchy and just grumpy all the time, I’d be a little mad at them at first if they did something mean to me, but then if I found out – like Cindy Lou did – that he was just a lonely man who didn’t have anybody to hang out with, I’d try to be nice to him. I wouldn’t be too unhappy with him. I’d try to be really nice to him, to do good things for him.”