Ten Things You May Not Know About Merida
1. Merida was coronated as Disney’s 11th Princess, though she is the first Pixar princess to be so honored. Curiously though, she is not the first Pixar princess; that honor goes to both Dot and Atta, who were the princesses in the ant colony in A Bug’s Life. (Well, technically, Dot is second in line to the throne behind Atta, but don’t tell her that!) Merida, though, is Pixar’s first human princess, and Pixar’s first female protagonist.
2. Although Merida is from Scotland, her name is actually Latin in origin, and means “one who has achieved a high place of honor.”
3. Merida was voiced by actress Kelly Macdonald, who was born in Glasgow, Scotland. Harry Potter fans may remember her from the final film in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows–Part 2. She played the part of the Grey Lady, Helena Ravenclaw. Reese Witherspoon was originally considered for the part of Merida, but had to decline due to scheduling conflicts.
4. Like Ariel, Merida is known for her red hair, though her curls set her apart from her aquatic counterpart. If straightened out, her hair would just about reach her feet, though admittedly that’s a far cry from Rapunzel’s 70 feet of tresses. However, both of these CGI-generated characters boast over 100,000 strands of hair!
5. As is typical for a Pixar film, new computer technology was developed in order to fulfill the ambitions of the animators. In this case, Merida’s curly locks posed a considerable challenge for the technical crew, and the solution was a new simulation program nicknamed “Taz,” after the Looney Tunes character the Tasmanian Devil (so named because, in the words of simulation supervisor Claudia Chung, it was “crazy fast”).
6. In the film Brave, Merida boasted 22 different costumes, including five dresses that were each comprised of 17 different computerized patterns. Speaking of hair, Merida also sported five different hair styles throughout the film.
7. Pixar has a tradition of inserting a sneak peek of an upcoming character into their films. For instance, you can spot a Nemo toy in Monsters, Inc., the shadow of Dug, the dog from Up, lurking in the old lady’s house in the beginning of Ratatouille, and Toy Story 3’s Lotso in a child’s bedroom in Up. Merida was no exception, as she (along with her family) could be spotted on a tapestry inside a London bar toward the end of Cars 2 (well, their automotive likenesses anyway).
8. Merida is the first Disney Princess to have a brother, three of them in fact. Previously, the only Princess with a sibling was Ariel, who had several sisters. We won’t talk about Cinderella’s evil step-sisters…
9. In some of the earliest concept sketches for Merida, she had green eyes. This was a natural decision based on the color of her hair, as red and green are complementary colors (opposites on the color wheel), and thus would provide the most contrast. However, it was soon decided that the color combo had been done to death, so her eyes were changed to blue.
10. Merida is the first Disney Princess not to have a love interest, with the main relationship in the film focusing on Merida and her mother, Queen Elinor. The character of Merida was partly inspired by the daughter of original director Brenda Chapman.