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Maya Rudolph talks about being mom in new film, real life

Maya Rudolph likes to get personal.

When she last hosted “Saturday Night Live,” Rudolph happily announced that her four children were in the audience.

“Heads up to my kids,” she said. “Mommy’s gonna put on a lot of wigs, OK? And do a lot of weird voices. So it’s just gonna be like a typical day at home. I’ll just be wearing a bra.”

The “Bridesmaids” actress didn’t have to get gussied up to do one of the lead voices in Pixar’s “Luca,” which debuted this weekend in theaters and on Disney+. Set on the Italian Riviera, the film traces the tight bond that grows between human beings and a young sea monster disguised as a human. Voice talent also includes Jacob Tremblay and Jim Gaffigan.

Rudolph, the daughter of the late music icon Minnie Riperton, grew up in California and started out singing in bands before deciding to pursue a career in comedy and acting. In 2000, she joined the cast of “SNL,” where she now plays Vice President Kamala Harris.

Rudolph, 48, lives in L.A. with her husband, director Paul Thomas Anderson, and children Pearl Minnie, 16; Lucille, 12; Minnie Ida, 8; and Jack, 10.

Review-Journal: What is your idea of an ideal summer Sunday?

Maya Rudolph: It’s anything close to what I loved doing during the summer as a kid. It’s all about having pool parties and trying to fry an egg on the sidewalk and jumping on your bike. You run around all day with your bathing suit on and eat ice cream and popsicles with your family.

Describe the mom you play in “Luca.”

She’s a very serious mom. She’s not messing around when it comes to the safety of her kids. Personally, I love the idea of love and protection that comes from this mom. She combines it with discipline. There are rules, which also mean love. In this case, her son is a sea monster who can morph into a boy. She wants him to stay in the sea to protect him from what she knows are the dangers of the world.

As a mom of four, do you understand being overprotective?

I can be very protective. Her vibe is basically, “You listen to your mama and do what you’re supposed to do.” That sounds good. But deep, deep down, all moms know that their kid is going to go out there and explore the world. You just try to delay it a bit.

Are you afraid of your kids going into the world?

Absolutely! It’s the scariest thing in the world to let your babies run out there. It’s terrifying to me as a mother. It’s less about “Is my child capable?” and more about the dangers of the world. In the movie, once little Luca is out there and Mama sees for herself that he’s getting it right, she figures that independence is good for him.

Do you get some props at home for doing a Pixar movie?

My kids are all excited to see it, but my oldest has lost her mind. I think if she had a child, she would name it Pixar. To my kids, basically, this is the coolest thing I will ever do. We even watched the film together and it’s pretty amazing. It does feel like a dream come true to me. It’s such a beautiful movie and they’re pretty stoked, as the kids say. They’re stoked their mom is in a Pixar movie.

What was recording like during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Sadly, I didn’t get to go to San Francisco (Pixar headquarters), but recording couldn’t have been more enjoyable. All the equipment was shipped to my house. We made this makeshift recording area in my closet, so it was pretty easy breezy. Basically, I was at home in a closet screaming, “Luca!” My kids were downstairs screaming up, “Why are you yelling so much? Is he a bad kid?” All they heard was me screaming.

Did you work on an Italian accent?

I actually did think I was going to be this Italian mama with a big old Italian accent, but that wasn’t the most important part. It was about the essence of her heart more than the accent.

Do you have a preference: TV sketch comedy or movies?

I love them all because I’ve had different experiences in all of them. Of course, one of my favorite places to work is “SNL” and variety shows because the work is so fast paced. You can’t compare it to anything else. Then I went to do films and thought, “This is so much slower and a little quiet.” But you get used to the different kinds of comedy. You love when the laugh is right there. That is the exhilaration of performing live. It’s something I always hope to keep in my life.

Your mom died of cancer when you were 7. What do you remember from your time with her?

I remember her love. There was also her fame. When I was a kid, people would come up to us and just stare. I didn’t really like it. I used to think, ‘Oh, they’re staring at my hair because it’s so big.” I didn’t get that people were staring at my mother and then me like, “Wow, there’s the daughter!”

On a far lighter subject, “Luca” is such a summer movie. What are your favorite summer memories?

Well, my birthday is in the summer (July 27) so I have memories of many fun celebrations. Also, some of my favorite summers when I was younger were spent away at camp. I have the most heavenly, sweet memories of those warm nights, my favorite. Those friendships you make during summers as a kid are some of the best in your life. There are friends I made at camp who don’t live in the same city as me now, but we still keep in touch. You just fall in love in the most lovely way possible with those people from your summers. It’s just so sweet.

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