Sandra Oh celebrates Pixar’s ‘Turning Red’, Toronto and the end of ‘Killing Eve’


Hogtown takes center stage in new animated movie

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For an actress who has mostly played it serious as one of the stars of TV’s killing eveSandra Oh found herself with a constant smile making Turning Redthe newest animated film from Pixar.

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“It was an entire Pixar film that focused on the inner-life of a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian girl going through puberty. I wanted to be part of that story,” Oh emphasizes in a video call. “But in addition to that I was working with Oscar winner Domee Shi. That was a super bonus.”

Ottawa-born Oh was also thrilled to be a part of Pixar’s first Canadian-set animated film, with Toronto taking center stage.

“I cheered at every single moment where I recognized something,” the Golden Globe winner says.

“I used to live near a Daisy Mart, and I don’t even know if there are Daisy Marts outside of Toronto, but I lived near one on Harbord St., when I lived in Kensington Market.”

Before captivating TV audiences with her portrayal of Eve Polastri on killing eve (the latest season is currently airing on CTV Drama), Oh, who has been living in Los Angeles for the past 20 years, was best known for playing Cristina Yang for 10 seasons on Grey’s Anatomy.

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But getting to participate in a Pixar film was “thrilling,” she says.

“It’s a great canon of films and to be a part of one of them is an honor,” Oh, 50, says. “Deep into my career getting to do something like this is just so satisfying.”

Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri in Killing Eve.
Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri in Killing Eve. Photo by Anika Molnar /BBC America

Turning Red tells the story of Meilin Lee (Rosalie Chiang), a Toronto teen coping with her demanding parents (voiced by Oh and Orion Lee) and battling the onset of puberty, who ‘poofs’ into a giant red panda whenever she feels overwhelmed.

Adding to the Canadianness of Toronto-raised Shi’s first feature length film is Mississauga’s Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (who voices Meilin’s friend Priya).

“The panda is many things. It’s puberty, it’s messiness, it’s change, but it’s also about choosing yourself,” Oh says. “For me, I related to Meilin because I think that early on in my life, I made the choice to become an artist and that’s not necessarily something that my parents could understand. So, the fact that I was able to make a career by making friends with my panda has really been my journey.”

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Ahead of the film’s Canadian premiere earlier this week, Oh spoke to the Sun about her experience making Turning Red as well as wrapping up her final season on killing eve.

We spoke to Domee for her Pixar short Beam and that film went on to great success. What impressed you the most about working with her as a storyteller and filmmaker?

“Domee knows what she wants. That’s an extremely important thing for a filmmaker. She has a very unique and particular voice and she knows what that is. I always trusted her voice from her. ”

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

What is the most quintessentially Canadian thing about Turning Red?

“It’s the authenticity of the diversity of Torontonians. That felt like home to me. Even though I have made Los Angeles my home for the past 20 years, an extremely formative time in my life was spent in Toronto; and I think that’s the thing I feel is most representative of the city — it’s diversity.”

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In Disney and Pixar's all-new original feature film Turning Red, 13-year-old Meilin Lee is happy with her friends, school and, well, most of the time her family—until the day when she begins to “poof” into a giant red panda at decidedly inconvenient times.
In Disney and Pixar’s all-new original feature film Turning Red, 13-year-old Meilin Lee is happy with her friends, school and, well, most of the time her family—until the day when she begins to “poof” into a giant red panda at decidedly inconvenient times. Photo by Disney/Pixar

We’ve seen how much representation matters. What does it mean to you to see that come to fruition after working in the film industry for so long?

“I could caution you when you say fruition because that implies that it’s done, and it’s not. I’m so happy to be apart of the growth. We can point to many films people would be familiar with — Shang Chi, Crazy Rich Asians, Minari — those are films from the past three years that have come to the forefront and I’m happy to be a part of that growth. But we still need to develop (more) storytellers because that’s what is going to last. It doesn’t matter how many we have, it’s what we’re saying that matters and how we’re saying it that matters.”

What kind of teenager were you?

“A lot like Meilin. I had such a nice group of friends—people I’m still friends with 40-plus years on. I was an extremely emotional girl, but I made a career out of it.”

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A scene from Turning Red.
A scene from Turning Red. Photo by Disney/Pixar

In this movie, Meilin desperately wants to see her favorite band—much to the disapproval of her parents. What was the most rebellious thing you did as a teenager?

(Laughs) “I became an artist.”

What do you miss the most about home and what’s the first thing you do when you are back?

Seeing family and friends. That’s the most important thing. But I was walking down Queen (Street) and it was very nostalgic for me to see how much Toronto has changed. But it’s the city itself; the people, the sites and smells. It’s my history.”

so many people love killing eve. What is it like seeing that show come to an end this year?

“It’s emotional and sad and challenging. But it’s satisfying that it has come to an end. It was a great opportunity and challenge to play that character for four years, so I’m glad to have been a part of that.”

Turning Red is streaming now on Disney+

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