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MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE

It Takes A Ponyville to Make Magic
As the My Little Pony team brought this iconic franchise to bigger and bolder visual landscapes, the story needed to reflect what the My Little Pony world has always been about.

"These characters and their adventures have always been about making friends, and about how important friends are," explains Thiessen. "We told that story so many times on the series, we did wonder, how do you tell that again? The answer is, in a bigger way. And so that's why we had to get outside of our comfort zone of Equestria, and go beyond, to places where people and creatures don't know about friendship. They have to learn from scratch.

"And that's what felt like 'the next level' of My Little Pony," says Thiessen. "Because the ponies live in this sort of utopian landscape, and all their problems are really pretty minor. But if we want to go to a feature, then we want to make everything have higher stakes. So, leaving their comfort zone, and bringing the message of friendship to people who've never heard of it before, felt like the right thing to do. And it's a bigger challenge for Twilight as a character, specifically. She's being faced with all these things that just don't work the same way she's used to."

Says Tara Strong, who has given voice to the purple-and-pink, horned hoofer for over seven years, "I love Twilight because she is such a well-rounded character. She's not perfect. She's adorable, smart, and brave, but she can also be vulnerable. In this film, we really see Twilight stepping back and owning that she's made some mistakes."

"When I found out they were making My Little Pony into a movie I was extremely happy and excited and recognized that the timing's really great, it has a huge worldwide fandom and I think they're all ready for it," adds Strong. "When I first read the script, I was excited because it was really worthy of being a feature. It's an epic story, with all kinds of twists and turns and new characters and new worlds, and things that will really excite fans when they realize how epic this film is."

Notes creative consultant Kevin Munroe, "There are quite a few themes going on in the film. One of the main ones is about reliance - how a character's decisions are not based on, 'It's all just me.' You're the sum of the friends you choose to keep, as well as all the strength that comes from that."

"During this adventure, Twilight has a lot of weight on her shoulders," adds Munroe. "So there are things there that adults can relate to in there. Normally, Twilight has a lot to worry about, and now she's been tasked with saving Equestria in a way she never had to before. It's one of those times in life when you either turn to your friends for help, or wrongly think you have to shoulder the burden all by yourself." To fans' delight, the cast of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic all make the leap to MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE. Joining them are an amazing lineup of stars eager to be part of the Pony world.

Emily Blunt, who has wowed audiences in thrillers (Sicario, The Girl on the Train), comedies and musicals (Into the Woods, The Devil Wears Prada) and action-adventures (Edge of Tomorrow, Looper), voices Tempest Shadow, a pony trying to find her place among the friends in Equestria but winds up causing trouble beyond her control.

"I was thrilled to join MY LITTLE PONY THE MOVIE," says Blunt. "It's really about female empowerment and that there are many different ways to be a girl. You've got these incredibly emboldened characters in the Mane 6. There is this huge fantastical journey that you go on with the ponies, and that idea of going beyond the borders was really exciting to me. I'm glad to be joining or leading the charge for the pony and the Brony fans."

Screenwriter Michael Vogel, a part of the Friendship is Magic TV show since its beginning, loved welcoming Blunt and her costars into the Pony world.

"One of the great things about working on My Little Pony through the years is we've had so many amazing actresses and so many amazing people be a part of the show," says Vogel. "Those women and men have totally personified these characters and brought them to life. So, to have someone like Emily come in and be part of the team, it's one of those like dream-come-true, pinch yourself moments."

Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth is Princess Skystar, a pony whose kingdom is underwater, and who discovers friendship for the first time thanks to the Mane 6.

"I loved the script," says Chenoweth, who's starred on stage (You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Wicked) on TV (Hairspray Live!, Glee, The West Wing) and on film (The Peanuts Movie, Rio 2). "First of all, I get to introduce a new princess. She's the daughter of Queen Novo, and she's been alone - her mother's been loving but also a little too strict and stern. There's a part of me that relates to that. The story has very important themes about life, friendship, and love."

Zoe Saldana, who's rocketed to fame in blockbusters including the new Star Trek films, the Guardians of the Galaxy films, and Avatar, helps MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE take flight as Captain Celaeno, a strong-willed bird buccaneer who, with her ragtag crew, helps the Mane 6 on their adventure.

"I'm a kid of the '80s, so My Little Pony was the most exciting thing at one point in my life," says Saldana. "Now, as a parent, I like knowing that I'm a part of something here that has a really beautiful message for kids. It feels good to be able to be part of something that reminded me of what it was like to be a child. I'm sure this movie will be as special for viewers today as the show was for me as a kid."

"What I liked about Capt. Celaeno is that she cares for her crew," Saldana continues. "She's a responsible, thoughtful, and empathetic leader. That's a terrific, very poignant message to give to children about leadership - that it's okay for you to want to be a leader as long as you know that the responsibilities that come along with it. Leadership means caring for all of your staff, your crew, your team, being thoughtful, considerate and leading by example."

Uzo Aduba, renowned for playing Suzanne 'Crazy Eyes' Warren on Orange is the New Black, voices Queen Novo, mother of Princess Skystar and a leader in her own right. "Queen Novo was a hippogriff, and after escaping the Storm King, she took her pony tribe to a land underwater," says Aduba. "She wanted to protect her group to the best of her ability, and wanted to create a life of peace and stability. She doesn't take any nonsense, and will do everything in her power to protect her family." Aduba was excited to have her first voice work be for the My Little Pony world.

"I am very familiar with My Little Pony," Aduba adds. "I grew up with them. So when I was asked to do the movie, I said, absolutely! I could sing the theme song from my childhood - I used to brush their tails and hair and collect them! There's just a magic and a sense of wonder. There's also always been a message of belief and striving to be better inside of the world of My Little Pony."

Stage and screen star Taye Diggs, who plays Capper, a streetwise feline who helps the Mane 6 navigate the topsy-turvy city of Klugetown, was also a newcomer to animated films. "When I found out they were doing this film, it was something I wanted to be a part of," says Diggs. "As far as getting into the character, being in an animated film almost gives you a little bit more freedom. In a live-action film, you just have your own body. But when you're given a sketch for an animated film, you can take ideas from the drawing and from the artwork. ''I'm very movement-oriented, so just looking at the way Capper is positioned, the expressions on his face, all enhances my performance. It's really cool."

To play the villain, known as the Storm King, Tony Award winner Liev Schreiber (Spotlight, TV's Ray Donovan) found inspiration in a classic movie bad guy. "He's sort of a little bit like Basil Rathbone (The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Mark of Zorro), just a sort of insane, maniacal, crazy goat-man," says Schreiber, who was happy to do a movie his young kids could see. "The Storm King is prone to temper tantrums, and he's a little crazy. He has a wide range of behaviors." Schreiber says he approached his portrayal as he would a live-action character.

"With any kind of creativity, you have to push the envelope," says Schreiber. "You have to explore, you have to improvise. I think we all love, as audiences, to see performers out on a tightrope, to see people creating and being in the moment, coming up with something that we didn't think they could do. I think especially with this kind of work, animated films, you're sort of flying blind. So, you have to have that thing that I think is the key to all great acting, which is, you can't be afraid."

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