Jillian Bell, Isla Fisher & Jillian Shea Spaeder Interview: Godmothered
Stars Jillian Bell, Isla Fisher, and Jillian Shea Spaeder talk Disney tropes and family bonds in their new Disney+ film, Godmothered.
True love isn’t always what it seems and fairytales aren’t what they’re cracked up to be in Godmothered, coming to Disney+’s streaming service on December 4. Perfect for the holiday season, the film follows a naive but spirited rookie godmother (played by Jillian Bell from Bill & Ted Face The Music) who visits Earth on a mission to give a little girl named Mackenzie her happily ever after.
Unfortunately, she’s a few years too late and Mac (Isla Fisher, Arrested Development) is now a single mother who barely believes in happiness – let alone happy endings. Though she has a lot to learn about the real world, Eleanor is determined to use her admittedly unstable magic to give Mac’s family the boost they need. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the outcome of her efforts will determine the fate of her entire fairy godmother academy.
Bell and Fisher joined Jillian Shea Spaeder, who plays Mac’s eldest daughter Jane, in a conversation with Screen Rant about the themes and tropes of the film. They discussed how familial love and relationships can be viewed from different angles, as well as which Disney trope they’d personally like to see dissected.
Eleanor is every bit the plucky and determined heroine we expect from Disney movies, but she’s coming from a totally unexpected angle. How do you think that her time at the fairy godmother academy has really shaped her perspective and outlook on life?
Jillian Bell: I think she is a true believer in fairy tales, and she wants to follow all the rules and get it all perfectly right. I can relate to that. When I was younger, that’s all I wanted to do: get all my homework done, get straight A’s, never be a problem. But life is messy, and I think it’s fun to show that even if you have a plan to come and try to help a little girl – with what we know of normal fairy tales, of the princess and the gown and the castle – that sometimes people don’t want that.
It’s a real modern take on a classic fairy tale. I think that it’s good and important to show, even me as an adult, but also young kids that happily ever after can look different to everybody.
When Mac starts out, she and her daughters have a kind of a strained relationship, even though clearly there is a lot of love there. Why is a fairy godmother just the right ingredient for that family recipe?
Isla Fisher: I think for a character like Mac, she hasn’t really been able to process the death of her husband because she had to be in Mom Mode and keep modeling getting on with life and working hard. She’s all alone in the world really, at least as a parent, and she’d forgotten to sort of fall in love with life.
What Eleanor does is give her the tools, or at least open her eyes to all the blessings she can count if she just stops focusing on the things she’s not doing. I think Mac’s incredibly hard on herself and believes that she should be doing something else work-wise, or have done more for her goals in some way. As a result, she limits her eldest daughter, who has this fantastic singing voice. She forgets to say the most obvious thing, which is, “I believe in you, and you can do this,” because she’s so afraid that she’ll get hurt. Because that’s obviously what she’s been through.
I think it’s something that all parents relate to, in varying degrees. This journey as a parent, half the time, is like, “Oh, I wish I could have done this differently.” Everything we do is just a work in progress.
Speaking of that voice, Jillian, you have such an amazing voice. How do you even sing in a way that’s unprepared? How do you ever make it sound like Jane is not confident?
Jillian Shea Spaeder: That was biggest struggle for me I think during the entire filming process. Everybody always has those moments in the film where you’re struggling and you stop, and you’re awkwardly standing there. I watched Demi Lovato’s performance [where] she stopped because she was so emotional, and it was so raw and so perfect. I watched it and I analyzed it, because it was a really weird thing to do. I didn’t want to make it seem unnatural, but it was a big moment for Jane. Obviously taking that breath, and taking a pause and being like, “I’m gonna come at this from a different headspace,” was something that was really important for the character.
So, that was a little hard, but it was fun.
I really love how Disney has lately been turning all of its own tropes on their heads. In honor of that, which Disney trope would you love to explore further or to modernize?
Jillian Bell: I was gonna steal one from you, [Isla]. You might say it, so you say it first.
Isla Fisher: No, you go.
Jillian Bell: I actually think it’s good. It’s the whole “woman is sleeping and a prince wakes her up with a kiss.”
Isla Fisher: Oh, yeah! That whole inappropriate, no consent smooch. I’d love it if we could just add consent into the romance.
Jillian Shea Spaeder: She comes up from the dead. She’s like, “Yes, you may kiss me!”
Godmothered is available to stream on Disney+ starting December 4.