Turning Red Stars Preview the Pixar Film's Unique Mother-Daughter Relationship

This weekend will see the Disney+ debut of Turning Red, the newest blockbuster film from Pixar to arrive on the streaming service. The film introduces Mei Lee (voiced by Rosalie Chiang), a confident, dorky 13-year-old torn between staying her mother’s dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. Her protective, if not slightly overbearing mother, Ming (voiced by Sandra Oh), is never far from her daughter-an unfortunate reality for the teenager. And as if changes to her interests, relationships and body weren’t enough, whenever she gets too excited — which is practically always — she “poofs” into a giant red panda.

The film has already become a hit amongst critics, and its balance of nostalgia for the 2000s, boy band references, and heartfelt moments are sure to resonate with general audiences once the film debuts. At the heart of the ambitious and entertaining project are Oh and Chiang’s performances, which craft a mother-daughter dynamic that is complex and earnest, to a degree that will undoubtedly pull on the heartstrings of viewers. ComicBook.com recently got a chance to chat with Oh and Chiang about their work on the film, crafting that mother-daughter relationship, 00s nostalgia, and more!

ComicBook.com: For Sandra, you have an amazing filmography, including a lot of animated roles. But what made Ming stand out to you, as a role that you knew you wanted to play?

Sandra Oh: It was the subject matter. It was the fact that there’s an entire Pixar film focused on a 13-year-old Chinese Canadian girl, and her inner life, and her struggle to go through puberty and adolescence and change. I wanted to be a part of telling that story.

And for Rosalie, this is your first role, and it is such a major one. What would you say has surprised you the most about the experience?

Rosalie Chiang: I think it’s the different messages that people picked up on. I feel like, when I first saw the movie, I thought, “Oh yeah, this is just about change. This is about messiness.” However, we’ve talked to many people, and I feel like they’ve all kind of picked up their own thing. That just shows how universal this movie is, and how anyone can enjoy it and pick up their own thing from it.

That ties perfectly into my next question — what are you both excited to see audiences respond to once the film comes out?

Oh: I think we probably have different perspectives on it. Clearly. I have the perspective of parents. Anyone who’s a parent will come up to me and they’re saying, “As a mother, as a parent, I cried.” Because that’s a beauty also, I’ll say, of many Pixar films. They speak to the adult, or the parent in the room watching the film with the child. And there’s a place for that, of the beautiful, nuanced, bittersweet, painful part. It’s true of [what] a parent has to go through, where you have to let go of your child, and let them change into the person that they’re going to become. That’s the perspective that, I think, I hold.

And Rosalie, what about you?

Chiang: Ooh. I mean, as Sandra takes the parents, I take the kids’ side, because I’m still a kid. And I went through what Mei went through — besides turning into a giant red panda. But I think in both sides, either side is well intentioned. There’s no malice. There’s [not] any malicious intent behind any of the characters’ actions. I think that’s really important to understand, that the kid isn’t trying to rebel. It’s not like when we have a difference in opinion, it doesn’t mean that we’re trying to argue or…

Oh: To hurt the the other person.

Chiang: …hurt, yes. Yes, yes.

Oh: It’s just something that each of the characters actually just need to go through.

For Sandra, did this movie make you nostalgic for anything from the 2000s?

Oh: Oh my gosh! I feel like the 2000s were not that far away. Terrible, it’s true. It’s true.

I agree.

Oh: Honestly, I love the way that they animated Toronto from 2002. That was close to the time where I used to live there, so it was nice to see the streets, and the SkyDome being the SkyDome, and all that familiarity. That was really great for me to see.

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Turning Red will be available to stream on Friday, March 11th, exclusively on Disney+.

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