FYI.

This story is over 5 years old.

Interviews

We Asked the Voice of Pippi Longstocking About What She's Going to Do Today

We asked her about Arthur memes, too, since she's also Muffy.
19.9.16

When the earliest humans first became conscious, they felt the pull of higher thought wrench them from an animalistic state. Beyond the simple drive for survival, people suddenly felt they had purpose. The world was full of possibilities. With one mighty roar, humanity bellowed the song of its existential crisis, asking, pleading, "What Shall I Do Today?" That's the title of one the greatest songs ever written. It comes from the Canadian-made cartoon based off books by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking. The physically strong daughter of a sea captain spends her time going on adventures, not wanting to grow up, and picking up and throwing people. Pippi has four best friends: her horse, her monkey, Mr. Nilsson, and two neighbourhood children, Tommy and Annika. There are no greater heroes than Pippi. Canadian Millennials™ know the words to "What Shall I Do Today?" We live them every day.

Annoncering

Sing it with us: What. Shall. I. Do. Today?

In line with Noisey's goal to document the most important achievements in music, we needed to talk to Pippi Longstocking to truly understand "What Shall I Do Today?" To our shock, it turns out the strong girl with dual red flying braids, Pippi Longstocking, is in fact a fictional character. We'll give you a moment to let that sink in. The person masquerading as the character is named Melissa Altro, and she lives in Toronto.

Needing confirmation of this revelation, I called Altro to get answers. Apparently, she became Pippi after auditioning for the 1997 movie shown in select theatres. After that, the Pippi people came out with two seasons of the televised cartoon. Below is our conversation with Melissa Altro, who, as it turns out also voices Muffy Crosswire on the show Arthur. Hey, what a wonderful kind of day.

Noisey: How did you become Pippi Longstocking?
Melissa Altro (Pippi Longstocking and Muffy Crosswire): I think I was 14 years old at the time and I was living in Montreal. I was in high school and had an audition for the part … They couldn't seem to find anybody in Toronto. I think they told me they auditioned something like 500 girls or something crazy like that to find the right voice. I flew out to Toronto and met the director. That went super well. The rest is kinda history.

This was a breakout role. Fair statement?
No, it's not a fair statement! My first cartoon role was the role of Muffy Crosswire in Arthur. I started when I was 12 and I still do today. I'm still Muffy.

Annoncering

Whoa. Really?
Yeah. That's been going twenty plus years.

I feel like a really bad researcher now. I had a singular focus on Pippi Longstocking.

Well, that's a bonus!

Do you know about Arthur memes?
Definitely unaware. I'm still trying to understand how Twitter works.

Could I get your reaction to these photos?

Boss lady.

What a wonderful kind of day!

Knuckle sandwich?

This is exactly what we needed. The future of this country and the world thank you for your service. What's it like being Muffy versus Pippi?
Muffy is all about the sass and making things happen so it's a lot of fun to play that attitude. When it comes to Pippi, she's about finding new adventures and experiencing the joy of being in the moment. Bringing that optimism and energy to my performance comes pretty naturally for me since I think my personality falls somewhere in the middle of the two characters.

What's it like to be a voice actor? Do you get recognized in any way?
There is absolutely no celebrity in voice acting because you are not recognizable. For actors who are "in voice" there is no celebrity and you are so easily replaceable in many ways. Not to undermine what anyone can do—I'm not saying that—but they can just do something called a voice match. [Companies] just find someone who sounds alike. You can't get too excited about yourself.

I beg to differ, Melissa. How does it feel knowing that your work, particularly the Pippi Longstocking song, "What Shall I Do Today?" has transcended into Canadian icon status, entirely unforgettable?
It is?

Annoncering

I sing this song to my wife every time I wake up. I am a 28-year-old man.
[Laughs] I don't know if you're using it for good or for evil. That sounds like for good.

Oh, very good.
Very good? Sounds like she might beg to differ?

Uh, I sing it for love. You know what? Let's leave my wife out of this.
[Laughs] Okay.

This song is part of Canadian pop culture. You didn't know that?

I really didn't know that. When you contacted me about it, it was such a blast from my past. I'm so affectionate towards it, but my day-to-day does not involve any Pippi references. Arthur and Muffy, since that's something I just finished a season a month ago, that's more relevant in my life. To hear that [Pippi] means something to someone—I'm really proud of the work we did on there.

Wait, so you don't wake up and sing "What Shall I Do Today?" every day of your life?
I actually don't I tend to make up my own ridiculous songs. I assure you of that.

So Melissa—can I call you Pippi? So, Pippi—
Yes.

Pippi, when's the last time you jumped on a bed?
Like standing up on a bed? Hmm, well, I did have a crazy dance-off with my husband and baby to the Kanye song "Fade," his new one. I saw the video from the MTV Music Awards. That was the most insane video I've seen. This woman was sex incarnate. It made an impression. I did a ridiculous dance with baby and husband and filmed it on our iPad. I was making very unattractive faces, which is my version of sexy. There was definitely dancing, but no jumping this morning.

Annoncering

Does Kanye influence your work currently, Pippi?
[Laughs] No, not currently.

Huh. Which hip-hop artists do influence your work?
I love Drake. He's gorgeous. I'm very into the Drake and Rihanna "I'm Too Good For You" jam. [the song is actually "Too Much"]

Do you think Pippi Longstocking—I mean you—is a fan of Drake?
She's open to everything. That's what I love about Pippi. She's a free spirit. When I got the part when I was 14, I thought she was so much like me. I love animals and I'm dance-y and energetic and up for anything. It felt right.

Can you tell us about the last great adventure you had?
Well, nowadays I'm a mother of two. I just had my second baby.

Congratulations!
Thank you! My great adventure might be birthing that baby in my bedroom. I did it the first time and that was crazy and I did it again. People might say, 'Why would you do that?' But that's the Pippi spirit. They were awesome experiences. The parenthood adventure is taking up most of my energy.

How do you feel about horses and monkeys?
I love horses. We took my three-year-old and he was so bored, but I was riveted. I was sitting on the edge of my seat and my kid was so bored. I love horses, and I keep saying when I'm done having little people I will get back on the horse and start riding again. Monkeys? I haven't thought much about them these days. They seem a little erratic these days.

You and Mr. Nilsson haven't kept in touch then?
No. We kinda parted ways back then. He's pretty cute, but no I have not talked to.

I'm sorry. This is a dark period obviously.
[Laughs] The lost relationship with Mr. Nilsson? I'm sure he's fine. He's such a cutie. He's moved on.

Would you ever consider a power metal cover of "What Shall I Do Today?"
I would consider something a little more folky or acoustic. I don't think I could go power metal.

Devin Pacholik honestly doesn't remember much of Pippi Longstocking past the theme song. Follow him on Twitter.