Chrissy Metz on Making Her Voice Acting Debut in 'Kung Fu Panda' Series: 'It Was Sort of Magical' (Exclusive)
By Philiana Ng
DreamWorks Animation Television/Getty Images
Chrissy Metz is stepping into the recording booth for the first time.
The This Is Us star lends her voice in DreamWorks TV's Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny, a new animated adventure series on Amazon Prime Video that follows the shenanigans of four energetic panda kids: Nu Hai, Bao, Jing and Fan Tong, alongside Dragon Master Po from the popular film franchise. Her first foray into voice acting, Metz portrays the fan favorite Mei Mei, a character who was originally voiced by Kate Hudson in the third Kung Fu Panda movie.
"It's been something that I've always wanted to do, so I was really excited, really eager to do it and really grateful," " the 38-year-old actress told ET of the new chapter in her career. "There's so many talented voice actors that, to be chosen, is a really, really big deal and really important to me. I've been having such an amazing time."
Once Metz got the job, she chose not to copy Hudson's mannerisms from Kung Fu Panda 3. Instead, she made it a point to channel her inner child to get the job done.
"It's difficult to fill any actor's shoes. You can't really compare apples to oranges. I was very familiar with Kate and the franchise and the film, and I was just like I have to bring who I am to the character, just like she brought herself to her character. While I was very familiar, I thought, I have to make it my own. I think that's always a challenge for any actor," Metz shared.
To prepare, Metz took cues from the Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny directors Charlie Adler and Dan Forgione, and she revealed traits of Mei Mei's she was particularly excited to dig into. Metz shared that she did several facial exercises, tongue-twisters and vocal warm-ups before she stepped into the recording booth, depending on what was called for that day; in one episode, Mei Mei pretends to be an ambulance siren.
"It was really about the direction. As an actor, I'm always second-guessing myself, like, 'Wait, is this...?' Until I'm told it's not right, I'm going to continue," Metz said with a chuckle. "It was [about] really committing to her energy or her excitement or her interest in acting or her crush on Po, you just, as an actor, commit to whatever's on the page and then try to make it your own. With any character in any capacity, it evolves. Once you get a handle on who they are, then you can improv or stretch differently in your abilities. Not only is it really fun, but it was quicker than I imagined and it's sort magical."
Watch a clip of Metz in Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny below.
Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.