Written by Judy Sloane Monday, 14 September 2009 20:11
September 18th sees the release of animation Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and we caught up with voice stars Bill Hader and Anna Faris.
Inspired by the childrens’ book by Judi and Ron Barrett, the film tells the story of a town where food falls from the sky. Year One star Bill Hader voices young inventor Flint Lockwood, who wants to create something to make everyone’s life easier, while Anna Faris (The House Bunny) is Sam Sparks, a weather girl who hides her intelligence. Other voice stars include James Caan, who plays Flint’s father, and Bruce Campbell who voices the town’s ambitious Mayor Shelbourne. But despite the great support of all involved, both Hader and Faris admit that making an animated movie aint a walk in the park.
BILL HADER I had done some animated stuff before, but I’d always done different voices. This was the first thing I had done, where they were like, ‘No, we want your normal voice’, and I was like, ‘How do I do that?’ We had to scrap my whole first day of work because they were like, ‘We want your voice’. That was really tough. And, also, it’s so insanely draining. If you watch it, we’re all at a 10, through the whole movie. You do that for four hours, just screaming and yelling into a microphone.
ANNA FARIS I thought it was just going to be a total cake-walk. I was like, ‘It’s an animated movie. It will be easy, easy, easy’. But, no. It was so hard. [And] early on, we didn’t have any animation to work with, so they would describe the scene and say something like, ‘She’s walking. Now, she’s hoping from one fry to the next, through a river of hot, boiling oil, so make that noise’.
Did you approach your animated characters in the same way you would for a live action movie?
HADER There is an emotional thing to it. There were scenes where I would approach it like an actor, it’s not all just going in and yelling and screaming. With other animated movies I’ve done, it’s a little character. But with this, you don’t just walk in. You really do have to think about it. For research, I read a couple of interviews with Tom Hanks about Toy Story, and how he approached that. And in one of those interviews, he said, ‘Oh, it’s really hard. It’s really exhausting’. And, I was like, ‘Oh good, I’m not a pussy. I’m just a wimp!’
FARIS Like with all movies, unless you’re directing it, you attempt to find the tone and balance. This one presented a different challenge. You just don’t know exactly what’s happening until you see more of the animation.
HADER They were really good at walking you through it and saying, ‘No, this is a real moment. This isn’t a funny moment. We want this to be a real moment’.
Did you get a chance to bring your own ideas to the character, to ad-lib any lines?
HADER I don’t remember doing a ton of ad-libbing. The script was really funny. You would just do stuff and then they would say, ‘Oh, that was good. Do you want to try anything?’ And, most of the time, I was like, ‘No, that was good!’
FARIS And their vision was so specific. A lot of time, as you go further along in the animated process, you’re locked into whatever your line is. But I felt a little bit like I was in over my head. I didn’t feel like, ‘Oh, I’m in complete control of this’. It’s not like I didn’t feel comfortable in front of [writer/directors] Chris [Miller] and Phil [Lord], in terms of ad-libbing, but I just felt like the whole process was like, ‘Oh man, I don’t know what I’m doing here!’
And what I also liked about playing [Sam] was that she’s feisty and frustrated. They really had a specific character. Sometimes you play a character and you have no idea what the character is like. But this was great – and I love the way she looks!
Another person who clearly likes the way Sam looks is Flint; did the two of you ever get to record in the same room with each other?
FARIS A journalist complimented us on our chemistry!
HADER She kind of wished that Flint and Sam had sex in the film. We were like, ‘Yeah, we don’t need to see that. Not in 3-D’.
Particularly as it’s a family film! Was there any message in the movie that you specifically liked?
FARIS I love the father-son relationship, it’s so moving! And I love the idea of embracing your passions and interests with pride. Especially right now, in this place that we’re at in the world, there is this idea of excess, greed and gluttony. I love that the movie has more than one theme to it.
HADER The thing I could relate to the most was that thing of having something that, in your little community, makes you weird and people don’t really get it and no-one is into the thing that you’re into. But that makes you unique, and you should just commit to it 100 percent and enjoy it because that makes you a unique person. I think that’s a cool message.
Did you learn anything from doing the project?
HADER I learned that I can gasp for two minutes. You have the ability in movies to splice takes together. You can make Gollum and you can make food fall from the sky, but apparently you can’t [fake] a gasp for two minutes! Phil and Chris were like, ‘Give it to us, for two minutes,’ and I was like, ‘I’ll die’. I had to sit there for awhile and then try to do it for as long as I possibly could. And then I’d be done, and I’d get all light-headed and they would say, ‘No, it’s not what we want. It’s more from the belly. It’s raining burgers’.