There are millions of adults who recognize Mae Whitman from her roles on TV (Parenthood, Arrested Development) or in movies (The Perks of Being a Wallflower). But there are also millions of young fans who know her voice, adore her, and may have no any idea what she looks like thanks to her popular alter ego Tinker Bell of the Disney movie franchise. With the fifth movie Tinker Bell and the Secret of the Wings out next week (10/23), we caught up with the busy fairy… er, Whitman.
“I love playing Tinker Bell. She’s great. So smart and independent and funny,” says Whitman. “I’m so happy and excited that I get to play someone like her. She’s a great role model.”
Whitman’s been onscreen since she was a youngster (Independence Day, One Fine Day, Hope Floats), but she’s been just as busy as a voice actor, recently taking on another pop culture favorite, April, in the newest Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles reboot. In fact, voice acting is almost a family business.
“It’s a huge part of my life. My mom [Pat Musick] was a voice-over actress, who has done millions of projects. I was sort of born into the world of voice-acting and knew everybody who was in this universe. I just love it so much. It’s such an incredibly fun world.”
Meanwhile, things seem to be looking up for her Parenthood character Amber, who in the last episode had a moment of spark and interest with Ryan (Matt Lauria), the troubled war vet that Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) has sort of adopted. Will these two be getting together soon?
“It’d be hard not to. He’s so adorable. I’m excited for where Amber is this season. It’s one of the first times we’ve seen her really happy. Working in music. Doing her own thing. Feeling a sense of confidence and doing well,” she says. “That’s the state of mind you’re in when something like real love comes along and you’re often caught off guard. She’s starting to understand what she has to offer to the world. And Ryan’s very different from the guys she’s been with. He could teach her a lot and she could teach him a lot.”
The show’s 15-episode order has fans worried this season will be it’s last. “You never know,” says Whitman. “I would hope that it stays on for 100 years and that I could be a part of it for that long. I love the stories. I’m sending every single ounce of good energy and support to it.”
For those other fans who are wondering if they’ll see her bland Ann Veal join the Bluth clan in the upcoming Netflix run of the beloved show, she wouldn’t say whether the Arrested Development folk have reached out to her, but there does seem to be reason to hope.
“I absolutely would not let this opportunity go by without doing everything I can to get a slice of Ann in there. I’m a huge fan of Arrested Development. And I still can’t get over the fact that I got to be a part of it.”
But for now her focus is on all things Tinker Bell and staying with the series she loves.
“I would do anything I could to stay with them. I believe in and want to promote the sort of things these movies stand for. I love being connected with it,” says a content Whitman. “Every project that I’m doing feels good. I would love to do some theater and am thinking about that. But I’m enjoying the space I’m in right now.”