'Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny': Chrissy Metz on Mei Mei's Moment in the Spotlight & More
Amazon Prime Video's Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny is returning for Part 2 of Season 1 on July 5 and we have a special sneak peek at the new episodes.
The series which is inspired by the DreamWorks films follows Po and the now-famous Four Constellations — Nu Hai, Bao, Fan Tong and Jing — who are summoned by the Emperor to the Forbidden City. Things aren't as they appear when they discover a villain's evil plans to overthrow China. Along their journey, Po and the kids will learn from each other and interact with the other characters of the fun world they're living in. Among one of those characters are Mei Mei who is voiced by This Is Us star Chrissy Metz.
The actress reprises her role for Part 2, and TV Insider has your exclusive first look at a scene featuring a musical number from Mei Mei. Watch the showstopping clip below, and find out what Metz had to say about Mei Mei's moment in the spotlight.
Mei Mei is showing off her singing voice this season.
Chrissy Metz: I know, so cute. It's so fun. I remember when they approached me about it, I was like, "Really? Oh my goodness, this is so exciting." Voiceover has always been a dream of mine, [on my] bucket list. And then to sing — it's everything I wanted. So I was very surprised and very excited about it.
What was it like getting to play that side of Mei Mei this season? Because we already know that she's pretty sassy and confident.
It's funny because when you hear the demo, I'm like, "Wow! The demo singer is perfect. Why don't you have her sing it?" They're like, "No, Chrissy, she's not the character." And I'm like, "I know." I love music, so I can appreciate great music and talent. But I have to say, I was intimidated because... you aren't on camera, it's a character. You've got to really commit to it and go full on.
We've seen your voice on display in This Is Us and recently in Breakthrough with "I'm Standing With You." Did your approach change for Mei Mei's musical number?
I don't think necessarily the approach changed as much... so much of a way that I convey Kate's emotions, of course, even if there aren't words is by facial reactions and body language. And so, when I sing you have to sort of — not overcompensate with the animation, but you've definitely got to sell it in a way that you have to as if a camera is on you because that will translate through the animation. So I just always have to be cognizant of that.
And because I've been doing drama for so long and it's obviously very in the face and the close up shots, I have to remember I get to be the zany, crazy Chrissy that I really am because I thought comedy and all of that was going to be my thing. And then with drama... it was like, "Oh, Chrissy's great at crying. Okay, great. Let's have her do the dramatic stuff," which I love very much. But comedy and being over the top is something that I think I just am, so I just have to remember this is not dramatic.
What else should fans anticipate from Mei Mei this season?
Well, I think that we've seen how sassy and opinionated she is, but she does have that tender, soft side. She means well. So I think we might be, hopefully, tapping into some of that.
And you were saying that you can kind of relate to Mei Mei as a character just because she's a little bit more fun and comedic, is that something that drew you to this role when you were initially offered it?
I've always just wanted to play an animated character, but then to have a character who really has a big heart, but sometimes they overcompensate with whatever it is, our insecurities. And then what's also great is she's this complex character.... She does want to be liked and validated as we all do as humans, but she also does have an air of confidence and it doesn't matter where you're from or what you look like, it's about how you feel about yourself. And I think that that's so nice to see in any character, but especially ones that are geared towards younger audiences.
Obviously, lessons are a huge aspect of animated programs for children and in this show as well. Is that something that was important to you when you signed on?
I taught preschool for many years and I have a big family. And I think that the kids obviously are so impressionable, and they're looking for direction... And I think that a show like Kung Fu Panda particularly shows them that we really are capable of whatever we put our minds to and that we can feel confident about our accomplishments. And that's something that is super important because we don't have enough of that. And so, when you can access kids' attention through really subtle ways of living and maturing in their lives, I think it's really, really special.
Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny, Season 1 Part 2 Premiere, Friday, July 5, Amazon Prime Video