Chloe Bennet can be heard lending her voice in Rally Road Racers as well as be seen portraying Robyn in FX’s Dave, which you can stream on Hulu. I spoke with the actress about why she enjoys voice acting, the importance of choosing projects that promote diversity, what she hopes her character in Dave represents for women, and more.
You’re absolutely killing it right now. I want to start with Rally Road Racers. I’m a huge family person and I really love that this is a movie that the whole family can enjoy together. How does it make you feel to put a project like that out there?
Chloe Bennet: I mean, it’s so special. I think it’s always important for me as just — I have a really soft spot for animation and for content that is for kids. The animation projects I’ve done always kind of… the center theme is definitely race and empowered female characters. I, obviously, think it’s important just for young kids of all races and genders, and to see strong Asian characters, like that’s important, or stories that center around a culture that my childhood was centered on. I think it’s just important to see that, not my culture but in the Asian American culture. This project came to me during the pandemic and it was such an easy yes and it’s such a cute little likable story. To ingratiate kids with diversity is always something I’m a fan of.
I think while growing up, those kind of movies are the most pivotal time for kids to really relate to characters, see how diverse the world is, and not feel excluded. You also had Abominable, which did that. Incorporating diversity is so important, especially for that age.
Absolutely, especially with how much media kids are intaking at such a young age now. I feel like it’s important to be a part of, at least always — you know, even if I’m really busy with other things, having a project like that in the Rolodex of things I’m working on will always be of utmost importance because those are important stories and that content is important to be intentional with.
Voice acting is so interesting to me. I feel like it must be very challenging since you’re doing it by yourself, in your own environment, and in your own little bubble. Is there anything that you feel like viewers might be interested to learn about the process? And how does it feel for you seeing it all come to life on the big screen? I feel like it must almost be an out-of-body experience to hear your voice coming out of an animated character.
Yeah, it’s way harder than what people think. It requires a lot more imagination and logistical understanding of space actually, which is interesting. It exercises a different part of your brain creatively, one that I actually had a lot of work with on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. You know, so much of my scenes and so many moments, I have a lot of experience with green screen and working with things that weren’t in front of me and pretending like something looked a certain way when really it was a guy covered in tennis balls or something weird for the VFX. So that actually helped me a lot in animation.
But for animation, you have to fully imagine it and kind of direct yourself in that way or work really closely with the director, go, “Okay, do you imagine that this is something where she’s walking away because she needs some space or would she get closer to him?” Like, the same things you would work out in live-action, you kind of have to work out ten times more in animation or at least I do and it’s a fun process to kind of get very involved in that way.
Obviously, working with DreamWorks, my first steps into animation was with one of the most incredible studios where I had a lot of time and the best in the business to work with on Abominable. But if you’re doing a scene and you have no reference for like, “Okay, on this line, this character bends over and picks up a rock and she’s talking about the rock, and then she walks away and then she’s 10 ft from that person,” like the way that you would say something when you’re bending down to grab it and then pick it up, and then you’re walking away and all of a sudden someone’s 10 ft away from you, those are things to think about that you don’t really when you’re acting for live action. Obviously, you’re doing it and that’s in front of you and you work that out in rehearsals.
It sounds like a hard task, but it must be so rewarding to see it come to life at the end.
Extremely rewarding and so exciting because you’re working with incredible artists, designers, and animators, who are so deeply talented and so creative. It’s such a fun part of the industry and one that I think is exciting to take a step back from certain big projects and just kind of do something like that. It’s always a fun challenge.
We also have to talk about Dave. You two are friends in real life and I want to ask about how that affects the experience. How does your relationship in your real life inform your dynamic on the show? Do you go out of your way to put little things in that you two could personally relate to in your own relationship or try to make it completely different since you’re playing characters? Also, is it a different experience walking onto a set and knowing you’re going to be working with your friends than it is to be walking on a set and not knowing anyone and almost having to create those bonds fresh?
Great question. It’s actually just so different. I think, when you don’t know anybody, there’s, in a way, very little expectation. So, it’s a clean canvas and there’s a freedom to that, certainly, and there’s a lot of ways that is beneficial and there’s a lot of ways that that can be more difficult, and then the same goes to working with your friends because so many of my friends do work on the show. Episode nine was written by my dear friend, Vanessa McGee, who’s extremely talented and wonderful. But you are very understanding of how these people’s minds work and what their expectations of you are, and you just have so much information. You know how the sauce is made, so you want to do better, so there’s more pressure.
But then, with Dave and I, and with Vanessa and I, there is such an understanding of what we all wanted to accomplish with Dave’s arc and how Robyn can be a vessel for Dave. Also, we knew how we wanted to honor kind of Robyn’s storyline and the bigger meaning of what she represents in women and young women dating, and kind of the position that they’re put in often, or we’re put in often. And so, it was a really special space to kind of navigate that and, you know, we’re all friends, so we all in our own lives have experienced romantic ups and downs and been there to support each other while we’ve navigated those things in our real life.
So there’s obviously a shorthand and being like, “Remember that time when you called me and you were really upset about this? Remember that?” Like, we can use that shorthand to help kind of get each other there for the scenes.
I like what you said about what Robyn represents. Do you have a favorite aspect of getting to explore her character or portraying something in particular with her storyline?
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think for me, it was really important to toe the line with the breakup. The show highlights this very specific in-between, which is that point where you’re falling in love and it’s clear that there is something very deep; there’s chemistry, that they love each other, but it’s that decision that you always have to make, you’re like, “Are we gonna do this or are we not ready? Is one of us not ready?” That kind of in-between place that I think a lot of young people find themselves in, especially these days. I really wanted to acknowledge that these are real feelings that she has and that she really does care and also, make sure that she was empowered in her decision to say with respect and still with vulnerability that she deserves more, you know?
She says, “I don’t want to be this backup thing to this great version of love.” I think that’s like such a relatable — I’ve certainly felt that in my own personal relationships, I think with social media and with people having options everywhere, that’s more in play in certain relationships, that idea of like, “Could I get something better? Could I do more? What’s better than this?” People are always looking for more. So, I think this touches on that idea and that issue that a lot of young people feel these days, the pressure of going like, “Well, I’m in this thing but I have access to seeing all of these people all around the world.” So I think her standing up for herself and going, “I don’t want to be the backup. I want to be the thing that excites you and I deserve that,” and her knowing that and also acknowledging that it wasn’t about her shortcomings, which I think a lot of women can certainly find themselves in where they can feel like they’re not enough.
I love that the scene was written where she says, “This doesn’t have to do with me. This actually has to do with you.” And so, toeing the line between that being like an empowering moment, but also, being one that is heartbreaking for her. But she’s choosing to have more for herself. That’s something that I was pretty focused on during those scenes because the emotion, the chemistry, and the feeling that kind of follow suit because Dave is such a great scene partner in that way and our friendship makes it easier to kind of navigate those scenes and have more empathy for the other person.