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Holley Shiftwell and June Brownbill: English Girls in Cars 2
November 6, 2011

One of the major new characters in Cars 2 is the female spy car Holley Shiftwell, voiced by Emily Mortimer. Shiftwell is new to field work, but she takes to it quickly, even rescuing herself and boss Finn McMissile (Michael Kaine) from a deathtrap, as shown in this clip.

I was surprised to find that a bunch of Holley’s shots were done by a female animator, June Brownbill. (Given the industry and Pixar’s typical stories, I figured most of their workers were male.) In an interview provided by the marketing company for Cars 2, Brownbill says:

When I get a new scene to work on, I spend a lot of time reviewing the reference material, usually a video recording of Emily Mortimer recording her dialogue in the sound booth. Emily was great because she really expressed her emotion in her face as she worked and she really got into the role. A lot of Holley Shiftwell’s facial expressions came from how Emily acted in the sound booth, but if I have an idea for something new, I go into the acting room at Pixar and videotape myself reading the lines. I do a few different versions and watch them to see which is the best. I also have a mirror on my desk, so I act into the mirror and pull faces for inspiration….

Holley is a British spy car with lot of cool gadgets and gizmos. She’s strong-minded, career driven and intelligent…. I’m English, just like Holley, and I’m also a girl, so I think that’s why I was given a lot of Holley scenes to sink my teeth into. It was great to try and find her appeal and add a bit of British-ness to the movie.

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