Photographer: Tenley Clark

Disney Pixar’s summer animated film Luca made its debut just over a month ago, and it’s a wonderful tale of adventure and friendship that we can’t get enough of. We caught up with Emma Berman, who stars as Giulia (pronounced like “Julia”) Marcovaldo, the determined young friend of Luca and Alberto spending summer break in Portorosso, to talk about all things voice-acting and Luca. Read the full interview below.

Showstopper Magazine Online: Tell us about yourself. How did you get into acting/voice acting?

Emma Berman: I got my start in acting when I took an interest in school plays. When I told my mom that I really liked acting, she signed me up for some theater camps and acting classes, and at one of those classes, I was scouted by Stars, the agency in San Francisco. My agent started sending me scripts for various auditions from which I was very lucky to book some super cool voice-over projects. My first VO job was voicing a toy for LeapFrog when I was 9 years old.  

SMO: What was the audition process for Luca?

Emma: I got the first audition for this role in the fall of 2019.  A couple weeks later, I went to Pixar Studio for an in-person callback. From the callback, I booked scratch recording in early 2020. Three months later, director Enrico Casarosa and producer Andrea Warren invited me onto a Zoom call and told me I got the part! It was the biggest surprise and the most exciting day of my life!

Photographer: Tenley Clark

SMO: Tell us about your character Giulia. What was it like to play her? How do you connect with her? Do you have a favorite moment from the film?

Emma: Giulia is about 12 years old and lives in Italy. What I love about her is that she is a wonderful friend who is free of judgments both of herself and others. Giulia is also kind of lonely when she comes to Portorosso for summer break, so she instantly bonds with Luca and Alberto over being kids who feel like the outsiders and who don’t belong.

Giulia is an open book; she is just this real kid without any superpowers, and her uncomplicated, honest, comfort character makes her very relatable. I definitely connect with Giulia in many ways. I think we are both very determined, open, passionate, and we both follow our dreams.

One of my favorite scenes from the film is when Giulia and Luca are talking about the universe and galaxies and they are both so excited about exploring and learning new things. It’s just mind-blowing to know that I have been chosen to bring the incredible Giulia’s character to life and that I voiced such an iconic Pixar character.

SMO: What has it been like seeing reactions to the film?

Emma: It makes me very proud to read all the amazing reviews, including a 91% Rotten Tomatoes rating for the film! It’s also super cool to see all the incredible, fun art Luca has inspired. I love that the story resonates with people from all generations and cultures, that viewers differently interpret what the film means to them and how they view the characters and relate to them. That is the power and magic of a perfect narrative when it is made to be open to the viewer when people can take from the film what is most close to their heart, and the story can be viewed through a very personal lens.  

Fanart of Giulia as a sea monster by Reddit user Paprika_Fruit.

SMO: You’re also a professional musical theatre performer. How do voice acting and on-stage acting complement one another in your experience?

Emma: I have found that my background in musical theatre has definitely helped me in the voice acting experience. In theatre, you have to make big movements and facial expressions, using lots of physicality, and you have to do the same in voiceover because everything you do with your body must come through in your vocal performance. Many voiceover auditions require me to sing and I often use the skills I learned through musical theatre in my voiceover projects. 

SMO: Did you record any lines or scenes that didn’t make it into the final cut of Luca? Do you have any favorite behind-the-scenes moments?

Emma: For the original audition, I recorded two scenes that did not make it to the movie, so I am very excited to see if they make it into the deleted scenes featured in the 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD digital home release that is coming out on August 3!  There were a lot of fun Italian alts in the scenes that I read during the callbacks and those were my favorite behind-the-scenes moments to record.  

Photographer: Tenley Clark

SMO: Do you have any upcoming projects you can share?

Emma: I am currently recording for an animated series regular role, and I can’t wait to share about it soon!

Luca is streaming now on Disney Plus! Don’t miss out on this film full of sea monsters (the good kind), bicycle races, and true friendship—and Emma as Giulia, of course!