Movies Roundtable

In ‘Christopher Robin,’ Jim Cummings Wants Pooh to Remind You of Your Inner Child

Everyone has their own memory of Winnie-the-Pooh, aka Pooh bear. Whether it was hearing him ask for honey or the sweet cries of ‘oh bother’ when he was unsure of what to do, we all have memories of A.A.Milne’s beloved creation. The story of Pooh has been around for almost 95 years, so it’s no surprise that many adaptations have been made to tell the story of the darling bear.

In Disney’s Christopher Robin, we see Christopher Robin (played by Ewan McGregor) all grown up and away from the Hundred Acre Wood, struggling to balance his busy job and his family. Christopher must cancel a family trip to work overtime, leaving his wife (Hayley Atwell) and daughter (Bronte Carmichael) disappointed. Christopher Robin soon finds himself back with Pooh and the gang at the Hundred Acre Wood.

Voice actor Jim Cummings returned to voice Pooh and Tigger for the film, having been the voice of the duo since 1988. Even though it has been four years since we last heard Cummings as Pooh and Tigger in Disney’s Mini-Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, the characters’ voices and personas are never too far from the 65-year-old actor.

“It’s like yesterday,” said Cummings during a round-table interview at Disney headquarters. “It’s in my DNA now. Pooh and Tigger are never too far away from me. I live in the Hundred Acre Wood.”

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Cummings, who has voiced over 400 different characters during his long career, always kept a special place in his heart for Pooh and Tigger. “These guys are extremely special,” he said. “I don’t have a [favorite]. If I had two, it would be Pooh and Tigger. They are kinda in their own class. Their own shelf. Everybody else isn’t.”

He shared that he learned a lot from the stories of Winnie-the-Pooh and the characters actually calmed him down and kept him out of trouble. He also advised us, in his Pooh voice, to “save your honey for a rainy day.”

In Christopher Robin, Cummings explained that this version of Pooh is a lot calmer and more zen than his previous versions. Cummings credited director Marc Forster for the new approach for Pooh bear.

“It was great. He’s very gentle. Very wise. Very zen-like approach too. He had a Pooh-like approach,” said Cummings. “He walked the line between nostalgia and bringing you into Christopher’s world that wasn’t in the Acre Wood anymore. You had to be serious but also bring him back into the Hundred Acre world.”

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In the film, Pooh Bear shows up when Christopher Robin needed him the most — to remind him what really matters in this world.

“I’d like to say [Pooh] looks at the world with honey-colored glasses,” joked Cummings.

With every Winnie-the-Pooh story, there is a life lesson. Ultimately, Cummings wants the audience to feel the nostalgia of their version of Winnie-the-Pooh, but he wants them to also learn something.

“Go back to the Hundred Acre Wood wherever that is in your life,” said Cummings. “Christopher’s problem is that he got caught up in the day to day world and was taken from the timeline. He went through World War II and everything. He came back and had to get a job — the whole bit. He lost with his inner child and Pooh is there to save him. I think there is a little lesson in there for all of us. You don’t want to take it all too seriously.”

Disney’s Christopher Robin opens in theaters on August 3.