Although “Kubo and the Two Strings” marks Matthew McConaughey‘s first animated film, the actor admitted that his interest in voice acting preceded his involvement in Laika’s latest stop-motion fantasy.

“I’d been looking for a voice acting role for years. When this came along — it’s a quality production, Laika’s quality, the story’s good — I was in,” McConaughey told Variety at the film’s Los Angeles premiere. “I haven’t made many films lately, in the last 15 years, that are children-friendly so it was nice to make something that [my kids] can go to.”

The Oscar-winning actor plays a light-hearted human-turned-insect in the fantasy epic, which follows a young Japanese storyteller’s mystical quest to defeat evil and protect his family’s legacy. Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, and George Takei also lend their voices to the film, which marks Laika CEO Travis Knight‘s directorial debut.

For “Kubo” screenwriter Marc Haimes, the goal was to spark imaginative, boundless thinking in young viewers — an effect he recalled experiencing while watching classics like “The Empire Strikes Back” during his childhood. “It was my ambition to create those moments that really challenge a kid and expand their definition of how stories and storytelling works,” he said.

The “Kubo” premiere, held at of Universal Studios Hollywood, kicked off with a carnival-style pre-party, complete with cookie decorating, cotton candy, snow cones, and mini donuts. Party guests were also in close proximity to Laika’s “From Coraline to Kubo” interactive exhibit and a showcase of Nike’s special edition “Kubo”-inspired sneakers.

“Kubo and the Two Strings” hits theaters Aug. 19.

Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski with star Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa, producer Arianne Sutner, director and Laika CEO Travis Knight and star Art Parkinson. Chelsea Lauren/Variety/REX/Shutterstock