In many ways, Pixar’s 13th feature-length movie Brave (out June 22, 2012) ventures into new territory for the animation studio: The Scotland-set adventure film will be Pixar’s first fairy tale, its first picture starring a female protagonist, and its first film co-directed by a woman. EW.com has the first look at some of the concept art for the project, and we can also confirm that Reese Witherspoon will no longer voice the movie’s heroine, a tomboyish princess named Merida, due to scheduling issues. Instead, the character will be played by the (appropriately) Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald (No Country for Old Men, Boardwalk Empire).
Brave is set in the mystical Scottish Highlands, where Merida is the princess of a kingdom ruled by King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). An unruly daughter and an accomplished archer, Merida one day defies a sacred custom of the land and inadvertently brings turmoil to the kingdom. In an attempt to set things right, Merida seeks out an eccentric old Wise Woman (Julie Walters) and is granted an ill-fated wish. Also figuring into Merida’s quest – and serving as comic relief – are the kingdom’s three lords: the enormous Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), the surly Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson), and the disagreeable Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane).
Brave is directed by Mark Andrews (the Oscar-nominated short One Man Band) and Brenda Chapman (The Prince of Egypt). Chapman conceived of the project, which was initially titled The Bear and the Bow, and was supposed to be its sole director – and Pixar’s first female director. But last October, it was reported that Pixar had replaced Chapman with Andrews. Now, although Andrews is presently in charge of guiding Brave across the finish line, both Andrews and Chapman will be credited as the movie’s directors, according to a Disney spokesman.