This Thanksgiving, Walt Disney Animation Studios is rolling out its latest visual extravaganza, Strange World. Set in the fictional world of Avalonia, Strange World follows three generations of explorers, the Clade family, as they embark on a mission into a mysterious, subterranean world. Inspired by the pulp stories of the early 20th century, Strange World will take the Clades to a “hidden world…heretofore unknown to them or anybody else” and examine the relationships between fathers and sons.
Directed by Disney vets Dan Hall and Qui Nguyen, Strange World boasts a heavy-hitting cast of stars lending their voices to the characters. Ahead of the film’s release, let’s get to know who’s who in Strange World!
Jake Gyllenhaal as Searcher Clade
Voiced by Jake Gyllenhaal, Searcher Clade is described by Disney as “a treasured member of the Avalonia community having discovered a revolutionary plant-based power source called pando.” While his father, Jaeger, was a legend among the people of Avalonia, Searcher chose to blaze his own trail after his father disappeared decades ago. Because he spent so much time without a father, Searcher has dedicated his life to his family, even though his son, Ethan, may have a bit more of Jaeger’s adventurous spirit in him than his father.
Their relationship is central to the film’s plot and, according to director Dan Hall, is modeled in part on his own experiences. “I have teenage sons and an older father,” said Hall. “I understand Searcher’s point of view because that’s where I am right now in my life.” Hall continues, explaining that it was Jaeger’s absence from Searcher’s life that has driven him to become the family man he is.
Searcher is caught between the legacy of the greatest explorer of all time and his own legacy he established almost in contrast to that of his father, who he sees as a rambling, intrepid explorer who was never home. Searcher set out to be the opposite. He’s rooted in his family.Dan Hall
Dennis Quaid as Jaeger Clade
That “rambling, intrepid explorer”, Jaeger Clade, will be voiced by Dennis Quaid, who director Qui Nguyen called “a legend” and the kind of personality that can rock a crowd.” To that end, Jaeger’s legacy as a larger-than-life explorer has made him a legend in Avalonia even though his obsession ultimately took him from his family.
Strange World is heavily inspired by pulp fiction and according to Nguyen,“Jaeger is our pulp hero.” Nguyen went on to describe Jaeger as “one of those guys on the covers (of pulp magazines) who wear white shirts that were ripped fighting an alligator. He is an awesome character. But what if that guy was your dad? That seems way less awesome.” But what if that guy was your grandfather?
Jaboukie Young-White as Ethan Clade
Searcher’s devotion to his family has resulted in a strong, healthy relationship with his 16-year-old son Ethan, voiced by Jaboukie Young-White. However, as producer Roy Conli explains, as much as Ethan loves his father, he’s not quite as content living a safe life on the farm as Searcher is…or would like for Ethan to be. “He certainly embraces his father and can feel the love that Searcher has for him, but something is missing for him in the quiet farm life he’s living.” Ethan’s curiosity gets the best of him and he ends up as a surprise stowaway on the adventure to the “strange world.”
Gabrielle Union as Meridian Clade
Gabrielle Union voices the “funny and fierce” Meridian Clade. As Searcher’s wife and Ethan’s mother, she serves as the anchor of the family. Meridian is an integral part of Searcher’s farming operations and becomes part of the journey to the strange world when she realizes that Ethan may have joined it, unbeknownst to Searcher.
Lucy Liu as Callisto Mal
The final piece of the expedition’s cast of characters is Lucy Liu’s Callisto Mal. Mal cut her teeth as an explorer as part of Jaeger’s crew, but now serves as the president of Avalonia. As the mystery of the plague affecting Searcher’s pando crops deepens, Mal makes the decision to take on the expedition to the subterranean land where the fun really begins.
Walt Disney Animation Studio’s Strange World debuts in theaters on November 23rd, 2022.