We met 16-year-old actress Harley Bird, who does the voice of Peppa in the animated show “Peppa Pig,” when she was visiting Manhattan recently. We were so lucky to talk to her because the visit to New York City was a surprise to celebrate Harley’s 16th birthday. After chatting with us, she was heading off to see the Broadway show “Hamilton.”
Are you “voice recognized” when you are walking down the street?
Not really, because Peppa is a 4-year-old pig, and I just turned 16 today! I have to put the voice on to be recognized.
Is it hard to transition from your regular voice to the voice of Peppa Pig?
Not really. I do Peppa so normally now, and it is just fine!
Were you forced to try out for the part, or did you want to when you were just a kid?
I was quite young — I was 5 at the time — so I have done Peppa for 11 years now. I can’t really remember that much, but I have always been into acting. It was the first job I went up for, and so I was quite lucky.
Do you like bacon?
Actually, I have two pet pigs back at my house, and I could never eat them! Pigs are just the cutest animals. So, no, not really.
Do you have a favorite memory of filming?
So, with “Peppa,” we all share the same scripts. When we get them, we personalize them and make all sorts of doodles on them and messages, and it is fun to see all the messages and notes on them. Morwenna Banks, who plays Mummy Pig, always leaves funny notes like: “Ha! I got here before you!” and then she scribbles all over the script.
What was the funniest lines you have had to say?
It was probably in one of the newer episodes, which is Wendy Wolf’s birthday, and Mr. Wolf slips in the line: “Is your house still made out of bricks?” And he is linking it to “The Three Little Pigs” and the houses that they had. It was a pretty funny line and a pretty funny episode.
Are your friends jealous of you?
Not really. I go to performing arts school back in England, and everyone else does things like this too. We have the “Billy Elliot” people and “Matilda.” And people there aren’t just actors, there are dancers and singers who are performing everywhere.
Does it hurt to make the snorting noise?
No, it’s actually fun. When I was younger I couldn’t snort and I couldn’t whistle. So I think it was Nev [Neville Astley], one of the creators and writers on the show, who was the professional Peppa snorter. So you’ve got Nev doing a 4-year-old’s pig snort.
What is the most challenging part about being Peppa Pig?
None of it is really challenging, but I do have to catch up on schoolwork. I do Peppa in the morning and so I am quite flexible with my schedule. I really, really enjoy it.
What is the coolest thing about being Peppa?
Probably just going to meet everyone. Like, I will meet a celebrity and I will be completely fangirl, and they are like, why?! They are saying things like, “Why are you getting excited about meeting me? I am meeting you!”
What got you into acting? Did you ever think you were going to be this famous?
I was 5 and I have always been quite dramatic. It was just something I got into. “Peppa” was my first job, and that set me off on it! And, no, when I first started, they didn’t know it was going to be such a big thing as it is now. Now it is in almost every country. It just started with a few guys who created a cartoon, and now it is just massive.
How did you come up with the voice for Peppa?
When I was 5, it was my natural voice, but now that I am older I just manage to flick back into my 5-year-old voice.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I think I have always wanted to be an actress. I know I wanted to be a princess, but I don’t think that is going to work anymore. I think if I am not an actress, then a costume director. I know the industry quite well now. I have done other things — I have been in movies, TV shows. I have been on Disney Channel. I kind of know what to look for now.