Thursday, February 27, 2014

On the Campaign Bus:
Steve Carell, Pharrell Williams, And Chris Meledandri
Prepare to Get Lucky

In mid-February, the star, composer and producer of the hilarious hit film "Despicable Me 2" – nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song (the infectious "Happy") – talked to Oscar voters and other guild members at the Directors Guild about their experiences making the movie. Here are a few of their comments in response to the moderator's questions.

Carell and friend at "Despicable Me 2" premiere
Q (for Steve Carrell): Did you identify with your character, his challenges as being a parent and having career [as a villain]?

SC: I’m exactly that character, especially the idea of being a new father who is discovering all of these things for the first time. It’s a universal feeling when you become a parent. You feel that part of your identity has been taken away and has been replaced with something else. That’s scary. You feel like you’re losing control of what had defined you up to that point. [He paused, then:] I can’t believe I’m talking like this about an animated film.

All hat and lots of talent: Pharrell Williams at the
Grammys with Daft Punk and Nigel Rogers
Q (for Pharrell Williams): Tell us about your process and how you interacted with the talent going through it.

PW: It’s been amazing... One of the things that I learned is that you don’t make your art just for you and your crew. That’s what I used to think… That doesn’t matter [to the audience or filmmakers]. I had to learn that… I learned that I needed to harmonize with the writers, Chris, the actors.

Williams on writing the Oscar-nominated song "Happy": Happy speaks to human beings, my other songs speak to people who want to look at booty… This allows me to rise to the occasion of working with humans. And I’ve never done that. This has been the most humbling of [not just] situations, opportunities, but moments of my life, period.
Williams was asked if he found it hard to write "Happy": No. [He then launched into a lengthy depiction of the difficulties of writing the song.]

Q (for Chris Meledandri): Did you grow up watching animated films?

CM: No, I wasn’t allowed to watch television, and my parents hated Disney. But they loved movies. While other kids were being taken to “The Black Cauldron,” I was being taken to “Easy Rider.” The fist animation that I started to watch was [from Japanese director] Miyazaki.

Q (for Steve Carrell): Were you an animation fan, Steve?

SC: I liked Looney Tunes.

Despicable Me 2: Gru in drag voiced by Steve Carrell
Q (for Steve Carrell): How many voices did you do before you settled on the one that ultimately became [your character] Gru?

SC: We all had in mind that it should be vaguely scary, but more stupid than anything else, and also vaguely Eastern European. It shouldn’t be a good Eastern European accent. I think I really nailed that.

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