Travis Knight Interview for Kubo and the Two Strings #KuboMovie

by - 8/18/2016 07:43:00 AM

From the first time I saw the trailer for KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, I knew it would be a different type of movie. In part because of the stop motion animation but also because of the storyline and characters.

Travis Knight Interview for Kubo and the Two Strings Movie

Note: I was invited as media to the movie screening and press junket interviews. Any personal views expressed are always 100% my own.

To learn more about the film, I had the chance to interview Travis Knight, Director for KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS.

When talking about characters in "Kubo and the Two Strings", I had to ask Travis, which one was his favorite?

I love them all. Even the baddies. When you’re developing these stories, one thing you learn as an artist and as a director, is that you have to approach these characters without judgment.

Even though some of them make horrible decisions and really, objectively, are horrible creatures, you’re got to try to find out what’s driving them. Usually, the way you figure that out is to say, “OK, where does their pain come from? What is driving them to make these decisions?” So you really start to try to understand them; even our villains.

Travis Knight Interview for Kubo and the Two Strings

Every single main character in this movie has suffered some kind of a loss and they respond to it in different ways. I think that is one of the things we explore, what loss and grief can do to us as people, how they can affect and change us, what’s the best way to try to handle these things; what should we aspire to do? Ultimately, that’s the path that Kubo takes. But his grandfather takes a different path, his aunts take a different path.

I really do love every character in this movie for a lot of different reasons. Kubo is kind of a feudal Japanese version of me.

Travis Knight Interview for Kubo and the Two Strings

But on another level, one of my favorite characters we’ve ever done at the studio is Monkey. She is fantastic. It’s interesting because in folklore tradition, typically a character’s guide or mentor is a man, and we purposely made Monkey a woman. I love her quality. She’s a maternal figure, there’s a lot of my mom in that character, there’s a lot of my wife in that character, I see a lot of my daughter in that character. I think that she’s just a interesting, layered, rich and powerful creature.

I think she’s animated beautifully. I love the design, and I think she’s brought to life extraordinarily by Charlize Theron, just a beautiful performance. I would have to say she’s my favorite character in the film, and definitely one of my favorite characters of anyone we’ve ever developed because of all those things.

When talking about how "Kubo and the Two Strings" develop, Travis shared

Around 5 years ago, I met with Shannon Tindle, who I had worked with on on Coraline. He mentioned he had a bunch of ideas he wanted to pitch to us. Over dinner he pitched me the bones of some of these ideas. But one idea in particular really got me excited. That idea ultimately became Kubo and the Two Strings.

Travis Knight Interview for Kubo and the Two Strings

Even in it's early raw state, there was something exciting about it. This sweeping stop motion Samurai epic. Something that we've never seen before. But as we started developing it, we had to figure out what was the heart of the story.

When I was a kid, I was an enormous, obsessive fan of epic fantasy. I devoured everything from C.S. Lewis, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, and I read tons of Norse mythology. But above all else, I loved J.R.R. Tolkien.

Travis Knight Interview for Kubo and the Two Strings

Then when I was about eight years old, my dad allowed me to tag along on his business trip to Japan. Absolutely everything about it was a revelation and I was completely enthralled by it. I came back home and I was changed by the experience. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair I’ve had with this great, beautiful culture.

This film is really the convergence of those two things. It’s the love of epic fantasy, that was a gift from my mother, and a love for the transcendent art of Japan, that I got from my father, all bound together with a movie about sustaining love of family, about what family means. So it’s a film about family, inspired by family, and that really resonated with me. That’s why I dove in and decided to make this movie.

When talking about the message he hopes viewers get from "Kubo and the Two Strings", Travis shared

The film is about the time in our lives when we begin that transition, and ultimately cross the road from childhood to adulthood. And the things that we gain and the things that we leave behind along the way.

Travis Knight Interview for Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo is something of a proxy for the director. While developing the story, I started seeing the qualities of how Kubo was evolving as a character. He's an artist, he's a storytller, he's a musician, he's an animator really when you think about how he brings these inert inanimate objects to life through his imagination and skill.

Kubo also has this incredible beautiful relationship with his mother, and she's the center of his world. And it was very much the same thing for me. My mom was my closet friend in the whole world. And this film explores that time in our lives when those things begin to shift for a variety of reasons. And then ultimately change as we move towards adulthood.

Travis Knight Interview for Kubo and the Two Strings

Fundamentally, it's a film that explores big ideas. It's a film that explores loss and grief. But it also explores healing, compassion, forgiveness and empathy. And I think above all else it's a joyous celebration of what it means to be human. In all it's beauty and all it's flaws. And I think with that kind prism, it reminds us that we're all connected. That we're all in this together.

I think that emphatic message, that thing that great stories can do, is what we tried to do with this movie.

After screening the film, which I will share more about in another post, I think that Travis and his team made a great story that will be enjoyed by. Make sure to go see KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS!

Kubo and the Two Strings poster


Kubo and the Two Strings is an epic action-adventure set in a fantastical Japan from acclaimed animation studio LAIKA.

Clever, kindhearted Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of “Game of Thrones”) ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town including Hosato (George Takei), Hashi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), and Kameyo (Academy Award nominee Brenda Vaccaro).

But his relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta.

Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey), and sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known.

With the help of his shamisen – a magical musical instrument – Kubo must battle gods and monsters, including the vengeful Moon King (Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes) and the evil twin Sisters (Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara), to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his family, and fulfill his heroic destiny.

Director: Travis Knight
Writers: Marc Haimes and Chris Butler (“ParaNorman”)

To learn more about KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, visit:

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To celebrate KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS opening in theaters, here's a great giveaway.

 photo kuboprizes.jpeg


Kubo Movie Prize Pack
  • 1 set of trading cards
  • 1 set of folders
  • 1 frisbee
  • 1 set of pins
  • 1 set of headbands
  • 1 sheet of temporary tattoos

Entries must be made on or before 11:59 p.m. August 26, 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Winner will be selected by Giveaway entry must be completed before extra entries will count. Winner will be contacted by email and must respond within 24 hours or a new winner will be selected. Open to residents of the U.S. with a valid street address.

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  1. This sounds like a great story with cool animation.
    pjames330 at aol dot com

  2. It seems like it has amazing visuals!

  3. my little niece will love to see this. thankyou, ken

  4. I think the characters seem interesting to my children.

  5. My daughter loves the monkey

  6. My kids would enjoy this movie. They would love the monkey.

  7. They would enjoy the storyline.

  8. I've liked the other movies made by Laika especially Coraline.

  9. It looks like a down to earth movie. I want my daughter to see that.

  10. The animations look awesome. It also looks like a good family movie!

  11. It seems like a good movie to watch with my grandkids.The story line is awesome.

  12. It looks like a good movie . I think my son will like it

  13. Sounds like a cute movie. I think my kids and I would enjoy it. Patricia

  14. The epic fantasy genre has introduced me to some wonderful movies through the years. This one sounds great.

  15. I just like the animation and the story sounds interesting! Thanks for the chance!

  16. My daughters loved films that are of anime origin or based in Japanese culture and they really loved the trailer

  17. I have heard that some people like it.. Hopefully I will also.

  18. My sons would love the animation in this.

  19. Our son wanted to see it because he is obsessed with Japan. I wanted to see it because it is different than most kids movies and I liked that. The animation is neat.

  20. The story looks very interesting! Thank you for the giveaway! :)

  21. The Kubo story is perfect yo bring my family together to enjoy a movie

  22. My kids and I love watching Studio Ghibli and I've heard the two studios are similar in style.

  23. It looks like an absolutely beautiful movie and who can resist an epic adventure with unlikely friends?

  24. This looks like an interesting movie. We can't wait to see it because we all love action-adventure movies
    Thank You

    Fiona N

  25. The animation is what got me interested, as well as the storyline

  26. I am excited to see this movie because it looks unique and adventurous.

  27. My son would like to see this film, He loves martial arts.

  28. My son would like to see this, he loves martial arts.

  29. i love Japanese animation plus I love Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey

  30. I just overall think it looks like a cute movie.

  31. I am excited about a highly rated wholesome family movie to share with my loved ones. (and Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey doesn't deter me! lol!

  32. I think the plot sounds wonderful - who doesn't love a movie about fulfilling your destiny and reuniting your family! We would all go to this movie as a family.

  33. I like this the most about kubo; thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known.