When you watch Cars 3, one of the new stand out characters is Miss Fritter – the larger than life demolition derby running school bus. Similar to her character, Lea DeLaria fills a room with her personality. With Cars 3 coming to Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD we sat down with Lea to talk about the new movie, and her role as Miss Fritter. DeLaria is known for her larger than life personality, and she brings that to this new role.
Our talk with Lea covers everything from the new bonus feature animated short featuring Miss Fritter (only available on the DVD and Blu-Ray releases), her words of inspiration for young girls and why she loves Cars 3 so much. Throughout our talk, DeLaria reinforces her love for the movie and the positive, feminist messages throughout the whole movie.
Cars 3 is a return to the feeling of the original Cars movie, and brings with it positive messaging that all kids can enjoy and understand. With messages of equality made throughout the whole movie, DeLaria loves the movie, the messaging and of course – being Miss Fritter.
We spent last night at the Nascar Hall of Fame and saw the short – it was amazing!
It’s so good. I shouldn’t say that, it’s my own short. But Oh my God. It’s so good though.
When did you get the call that there was gonna they were going to give you your own animated short?
The racing school? I think it was in June. The movie hadn’t been released yet when they called us and said “we’ve got this idea we want to do this DVD extra” And we’re like, really? I mean, that was exciting, right? Then we went in and recorded it. Making any Pixar movie, I imagine, is probably very akin to what my experience has been.
And my experience has been awesome and fun-loving. I mean, what a great place to work. Honestly, if this acting thing doesn’t work out for me I’m going to Pixar. It’s just so kind and there’s so much fun, and everybody’s having a good time. I think my work was done in about two hours. Yeah, I do work fast. I mean, people generally say that to me.
So we did it in about two hours, but then extra… So, they recorded it at Oprah’s studio, so I was in OWN studio, and I was running around going, where’s Oprah? Where’s Oprah? Because, I love her. So everything about that day was just so great. When they sent it to us maybe two weeks ago; three weeks ago? And they sent it to us, we sat in that office, and I swear to you we watched it like three, four times in a row, just laughing and laughing and laughing. Of course you’re watching her, but then it’s like okay the taxi, you know what I mean? Look at this guy’s face. Are you kidding me with this one? Like, it’s so funny.
How much of it is script and how much is improv?
It’s kind of a combination of all of that. The entire thing is filmed like that. They hand me a script but they have, generally ten alternate lines that they want to do. And then the writers, directors, producers they’ll go, “try this, try this, try this. Hey, Lea, do you have any ideas?” And then I’ll do it, and it’s often that line ends up being a combination of all of it.
Do you prefer; on screen or the voice acting, and what are the differences?
I prefer to pay my rent. Whatever’s gonna pay my rent and put food in my mouth is gonna- you know, because I like my food. That’s it. I think what I like about voice acting is how big it can be. I was in Saved by the Bell, the New Class, so I used to do Saturday morning television. And when you do Saturday morning television, you get to be really big.
But television has turned into, especially with single camera shoots like Orange that I’m on, you have to be real. You have to be real, you have to be honest, you have to sit there, and as you can see, that’s not my personality. I’m kinda big, so that’s probably what I like best about the voice acting is that I can make the big choices that I would make. For example, on stage, like when I do a musical, I’m making those big choices all the time. It’s acceptable there, you know? Those are fun choices.
What goes through your head when you get were, Pixar called?
Oh, what went through my head? I’m buying a house! No- oh honey, I jumped up and down, just- I can’t even tell you. We were so excited when they called. I mean, I love Pixar. I love cartoons, I’m a big fan of animation, and I’m a huge fan of Pixar’s. Always have been. I’ve seen all of their movies. So, when we got the call it was like- that’s like bucket list stuff for any actor. There’s not an actor on the planet that doesn’t want to do that, you know what I mean? So, yeah, I was excited.
When you’re acting, you’re working with people. When you were doing the voice of Miss Fritter for Cars III, were you in a booth by yourself?
You’re never in a booth by yourself, okay? You’re not with the other actors, but you’re not by yourself, either. You’re with the animators; they’re all there while you’re recording, and they’re filming you. And they’re drawing you while you’re recording. That’s what they use, they institute that into the character’s face. So, the facial expressions that Miss Fritter makes, the facial expression that I was making when I said the line. That’s why, that’s one of the reasons why their characters are so real. And the writers are in the room.
The director are in the room. The producers are in the room. They’ll throw you a line. They’ll say: “here’s what the character says” and you say it. So you are working with people. Just not the other actors.
Is it harder than working with an actor?
Have you ever met an actor? No, no, it’s not tougher. You only have to be on the set once and hear the actor go, “oh my character wouldn’t do that.” Oh, I want to kill myself, please don’t slow this shoot up anymore.
What did you think of Miss Fritter when they came to you with that character?
Oh, well, this is the actual drawing that they came to me with (pointing to shirt). Now, they made a little t-shirt for me of the actual original drawing of Miss Fritter. And, when I saw it, I was laughing, we were all laughing. I was like, well of course they came to me for this; look at her. You know? So, when I saw the character, and I knew she was demolition derby, and I grew up where there’s demolition derby and went to demolition derby as a kid, I kinda knew exactly who she was.
So I’m gonna be honest, I’m not going to make a joke. I went; “perfect casting. If this is anybody, it’s definitely me.”
Did you have any influence in changing the character, or shaping the character a little bit?
It’s not really my influences, they went out of their way, I think, to personalize her for me. In a very lovely way. I mean, I was very flattered. You know, they called up and said, you know, what year are you born? That’s the license plate. Where did you go to school? Bellville, and they have the name of my school on the side of my bus. They even have a rainbow bumper sticker. Right? You know what I mean? So, that’s was something else.
Those are my eyes. You know what I mean? They paid very very close attention to my eyes and made those eyes her eyes. So that’s kind of cool too.
The school district in the town you grew up in, I’m sure they’ve seen it? What has their reaction been?
Oh, they’re so excited.There’s been a lot of great people reaching out to me on social media and my family’s been calling me, and people are really excited. Yeah, they got a shout out, and they love it. They love it.
Is there a role in either theater or movies that you are just dying to grab a hold of?
A role that I’m dying to grab a hold of? Any role where I get to kiss Angelina Jolie, is the role for me. No, I’m still waiting for somebody to write that musical for me. That’s the one thing that I’m waiting for. I’ve actually had someone just write a play for me, so I will probably be doing off Broadway next fall. It’s called Innocence, written by a guy named Aaron Mark.
It’s an amazing play. But, I’m still waiting for somebody to write that musical. I want that. I want it. I want it. I’m hoping it will happen sometime.
Did you have a love for cars? You said you went to demolition derby, but I always grew up going to that and races and stuff, too. But, outside of watching that, did you have a love for cars growing up?
I will answer that this way – When I went to school, like I said, I’m, I’m fifty-nine, so when I went to school in the tiny little town of Illinois that I went to school in, it was a requirement for girls to take typing, right? And home ec. You were required by your gender to do those things. I didn’t want to take home ec, and I didn’t want to take typing, so I brought my parents in, and we sat down, and I took auto mechanics.
I used to be an assistant manager at a gas station, and I actually taught a course of basic auto mechanics for women. And I mean basic, like, this is how you change an oil filter. This is how you change your oil. This is how you check to make sure your battery, stuff like that. So I love cars, I work on their engines, if they are anything before the computers came in. Pretty much anything until nineteen-seventy, say, six, I can, I can roll my sleeves up and fix that car.
If I’ve got a manual with me. I’m desperate to own a nineteen sixty-six Ford Mustang, convertible. But, if not that, then the seventy-nine Ford hatchback Mustang is a beauty of a car. It’s a beautiful car.
I love cars, and I love vintage cars. I’m big into vintage.
Were you excited to see the ending with Cruz Ramirez winning the race?
To me is the best part of the movie. When they explained the story to me – because that’s what happens. You don’t really see a script. You see some drawings, you go to Pixar, you get this tour of Pixar, which is crazy. It’s so much fun. But, you go into a room, you see the drawings of kind of what it’s going to be. And those are just the beginning drawings. In my case it was the director; it was Brian Fee who explained the story to me from beginning to end.
Starting out, we’re trying to return to what it was like in Cars One, you know, there’s always that pitch. And then, the story. And, as he spoke more and more, I went, this is a feminist movie. This is a girl power movie. This is a movie that’s teaching young girls that they can live their dreams and be whatever they want to be, and we don’t have that many movies that say that to little girls. In fact I can’t think of another one. If somebody else can, shout it out. And I, I was jumping up and down about it. I thought it was amazing.
You never realized how hard that was to find until you have a daughter. And you look for the movie. And you’re noticing the messages and, like, God, I hope she doesn’t pick up on that.
That’s a bad message, yeah, I know. And this is like good message after good message. That moment where Cruz has that breakthrough, that moment, is so great. Man, what I loved about it was; the kids at the premiere, watching the little kids; the little boys and girls go, “yay” and like, cheering for her. It was, like, thank you, thank you. So good.
What is your favorite line in the movie?
I’m gonna fritterize ya. That’s a great line. I tweeted about that last night, actually.
Yes, can we get that in a ringtone, actually?
That’s a simple reach out to Pixar, I’m pretty sure that can happen.
Who’s your biggest inspiration?
I have a lot of people that are inspirations. I wouldn’t say I have, like, automatically I can’t shout out a name, but I can say a whole lot of names, you know I mean? People that I feel have made a difference – from, from politics to entertainment, if you know what I mean? Lucille Ball is someone that I, I admire greatly as a woman who was able to start her own studio. And she had to carry that ball and chain husband of hers. She started- started her own studio and had this huge sitcom, and was- and is immensely talented.
And not afraid of her talent, and not afraid. I feel the same way about Barbra Streisand and Lily Tomlin when it comes to that kind of stuff. I think that’s amazing. And, I think there are politicians that have been out there of course Harvey Milk is someone I greatly admire, and thank, you know. These are people that make a difference. Those are the people that, have influenced me more than anyone. And then you go right to the Rat Pack, because I’m from that school where if you have talent and you have a lot of things you can do, then you should do all of them.
Just do them, you know? Again, that’s something we should teach. People are just weird about that. They’re like, “oh, she thinks she can sing.” Oh, no honey, I know I can sing. I don’t think I can sing. In fact, singing is what I did first. Oh, she’s, oh well, she’s a stand up, so now she thinks she can act. I know I can act. So they get that way. They tend to get that way with women way more than they do with men. But then every actor always gets; oh so now they want to direct.
If people can do things, let them do things. Why do we stand in people’s way and tell them you can’t do that? That’s crazy. People should be encouraged to be the best person that they are. That’s Oprah. That’s right out of Oprah’s mouth, I’m telling you. That is, that is Oprah.
What if there is a Cars Four, because there probably will be. Where would you want Miss Fritter to be?
Fritter. Fritter. In the movie, that’s where I want, I want Fritter in Cars Four.
Would you want her backstory, or would you want to see her story go forward?
I want whatever Pixar wants. Someone please pass that message along to Pixar. Pixar is fully aware that I want to hang around.
What about, what about a standalone Miss Fritter movie?
Make a Miss Fritter movie, I want my own movie. It’s Fritter time.
Would you do another character in other Pixar movie? You just say, if Pixar calls you’ll say yes.
If Pixar calls, I’ll say yes. That’s no problem, I’m an actor and this is not my first animation, and I’m good with accents, voices and characters. They know that, so if they called me to do something else, of course I’d do something else.
Do you have any pet projects that you would like to get done?
Well, right now, the pet project is the off Broadway show that I mentioned, called Innocence. I have about, I would say, ten ideas for different television shows that I will be taking around, and I’ve got a new record I’ve got to make. It’s been two years since my last one was released. So, that’s gotta happen. I’ve got a lot on my plate. Buddy don’t remind me. I got too much to do.
We have a vinyl of my last record, House of Davis. You can order it on my website I believe. It’s a double record and vinyl is making a huge comeback. If you’re gonna be in the music industry you’re just stupid if you don’t do it, I mean, ‘cause people buy it, and, and mine, mine is good vinyl, too. It’s a hundred and eighty grams, you know? It’s, it’s really well done. If you like vinyl, you should order that right now, it’s good. Right now.
Any words of inspiration for young girls coming out of their shell?
Coming out of their shell. I think the words for inspiration to give anyone in that sort of situation is, you know, first of all, you’re absolutely perfect as you are, and by that, I mean, you don’t have to do anything that you don’t want to do, you don’t have to say anything that you don’t want to say, and if you feel like you want to say something, when you know what it is that you want to say, you’ll say it, you know? I think it’s a good thing, ‘cause kids are always pushed to do things in your own time and your own way, and that’s good enough. Yeah.
In the movie we see a lot with Cruz’s character being put down, and people told her she couldn’t do things. Have you had anybody specifically tell you, you can’t do something?
Look at me, My entire life. Always. And, you know, everyone from, from the nuns in Catholic school, you know, on. I’ve heard nothing my entire life except, you can’t do that, which just makes me want to do it more. I mean, but that’s my personality. But, I also was blessed with amazing parents. Amazing parents, who encouraged us, each, all of the five sibling; my, my four siblings and I, to be who we were and to speak our mind, and to think for ourselves.
And, you know, and not be afraid to say what you think. I mean, that’s a part of my upbringing, so I have to say that’s them. And, yeah, my entire life, all I’ve ever been told is you can’t do that, you know? And, uh, oh yeah? Watch me. And has always been my response.
That’s why, that’s what I like about this movie. This is something that we’re teaching young girls, you know? And when I was a kid, it was- I was taught that ladies don’t spit and holler and ladies sit with their legs crossed, and you know what I mean? I was told constantly what it was I wasn’t supposed to do, rather than, you can do anything you want, you can be who you are, you can get your dreams, you can have any of that. You can be president of the United States. You know, my mom used to say that: you could be president of the United States.
My mom would say that to me in the sixties, you know what I mean? As a young girl, under the age of ten in the sixties, so I think I was lucky to have that mother, because, I know that the girl next door’s mother was not saying that. She was saying, you’re never get a boy if you eat that cookie, you know what I mean?
You should meet the rest of my sibling, because I’m not the trouble maker. He’s mad at me now. I might be the quietest one, in fact.
Your parents must be very patient.
Well, they’re dead now, so… I know they really are, but it is sort of funny that I said it. No, my parents were right in there with the, you know, we’re Sicilian, they were right in there.
What do you drive?
What do I drive? I don’t have a car currently. I don’t. My last car was when the new Mustangs came out; the ninety, the ninety-three Mustangs, that was my last car. Because I live in New York. I live in Brooklyn, So, I don’t have to drive. When I lived in LA I had that Mustang, and I would still have that Mustang except it was stolen and taken for a joy ride and totaled. And don’t want to talk about it. She was beautiful. Her name was Eartha, I named her after Eartha Kitt. She was sleek and black and gorgeous and sexy, and of course I named her after the Kitt, right?
Cars 3 Trailer:
About the Cars 3 at home release:
In honor of world-champion racer #95 on his date-sake 9/5, Disney•Pixar is proud to announce the in-home arrival of Disney•Pixar’s “Cars 3”! “Cars 3” surged to the front of the pack opening weekend with audiences racing to see the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and spirited trainer Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo) team up to beat the new generation of blazing-fast racers. Now, this summer’s high-octane hit cruises home—loaded with bonus features like the all new mini-movie starring the demolition derby legend Miss Fritter— Digitally in HD and 4K Ultra HD™ on Oct. 24, and on Blu-ray 4K Ultra HD™ and Blu-ray™ on Nov. 7.
Race fans of all ages are invited to ride along with the “Cars 3” crew for hilarious and heartfelt extras, including an exclusive new mini-movie, “Miss Fritter’s Racing Skoool,” taught by the queen of the Crazy 8; a feature detailing how real-world race training influenced filmmakers; the journey taken by voice actor Cristela Alonzo and team while shaping tech-savvy trainer Cruz Ramirez; behind-the-scenes access to the story team who crafted Lightning McQueen’s third chapter; deleted scenes; and much more.
“Cars 3” is Disney•Pixar’s first in-home title released in stunning 4K Ultra HD format, the next-generation viewing format with four times the resolution of HD and exceptional high dynamic range (HDR), resulting in brilliant highlights, vibrant colors and greater contrast on compatible displays than ever before. With 4K Ultra HD, viewers will feel like they’re at the center of the action—holding their breath during the dramatic crash that launches Lightning’s journey, feeling the pulse-pounding action at the Florida International Super Speedway, and getting down and dirty at the Crazy 8 demolition derby.