STACK chats with Ruby Rose about her new animated role in Cranston Academy: Monster Zone.

There’s something to be said about spooky kids’ movies and the role they play in informing young minds. As well as being entertaining, they often provide lessons for impressionable minds and help build resilience and determination against adversity. While creepy animated movies like Paranorman and Coraline, for example, may make parents nervous, their value can be immeasurable.

The latest spooktacular movie on the scene is Cranston Academy: Monster Zone, a family-friendly animated adventure starring Ruby Rose and Jamie Bell. Taking its cues from Goosebumps and Jumanji, the story follows a 15-year-old brainiac named Danny, who attends an elite boarding school for geniuses. With the help of his roommate, Liz, he unwittingly opens a portal to another dimension, unleashing a menagerie of monsters upon the university.

Cranston Academy: Monster Zone hails from the Mexican animation studio ÁNiMA, which has been steadily establishing itself as a Spanish Dreamworks. And with a string of successful titles already under its belt (including Top Cat, Monster Island, Guardians of Oz), Cranston Academy is the studio’s most polished and astute feature to date.

Hollywood hotshot – and proud Aussie – Ruby Rose caught up with STACK over Zoom to discuss the making of the film and what drew her to the project.

“I love animation, and also I have a lot of younger cousins who are maybe not ready to watch John Wick and all of the scarier kinds of films that I’ve done,” she says. “So any opportunity to do something like Pitch Perfect, or a film I’ve got coming out called One Up … I’ve done two animations now, I just find them really fun. You get to explore different parts of what you’re doing and the [Cranston] story was so beautiful; I can relate to the idea of kids watching this.

“It’s about bullying and finding you place and being an outcast – a beautiful story about how you can be different and unique, but that’s what makes you special,” she continues. “I love really simply stories like that for young people to watch and understand.”

Although ÁNiMA are making waves within the industry itself, it’s fair to say that few people would be able to distinguish them from their Hollywood counterparts, and Ruby admits she was unaware of the studio at first.

“When I found out about the role, I got into the background of it all and thought, ‘this is really incredible’; it was a really fantastic opportunity and I’m so glad that I got to do it. I loved working with these guys so much, and when I went back and looked, I didn’t realise how rich and deep their history was – and award-winning and amazing.”

Cranston Academy was initially released in Spanish before casting for the English voice performers began, and Ruby sheds some light on how it all came together and how she managed to squeeze it in to her busy schedule.

“I was shooting this during my one day off every ten days while I was shooting Batwoman. So I was doing Batwoman and I was doing this as well when I could, and it was all back-and-forth.”

Of her characterisation of Liz, she explains: “They wanted her to be either British or Australian, and with a lot of animations you’ll get the privilege, and it’s a luxury, when you get to be animating as they’re creating it. So you’re not just matching the moving lips all the time. So when I tried it in Australian, it worked a lot better. Whereas in British, because you have to match the mouths, I was having to elongate British words that shouldn’t be elongated. So it sounded like I didn’t know how to speak properly.”

When it comes to her own taste in animated movies, Ruby throws back to some favourites of her youth. “I was obsessed with the Ninja Turtles, I like the cartoons from way back when, before they got too weird and realistic and started looking really freaky. And I loved Archie comics, that was my big thing.

“And Tank Girl was by number one – I have a tattoo of that on my back,” she adds, pulling up a sleeve to reveal her impressive collection of ink. “Oh and I have Astro Boy on my arm, and other anime as well as the Turtles and Polyester Cat. So yeah, I love all of that stuff.”

Cranston Academy: Monster Zone is in cinemas now – read our review