Often, when actors sign on to do animated films, it's an amusing lark, an opportunity to do a silly voice for a few weeks, not a chance to expand their acting range.
That doesn't seem to have been the case for Anna Faris and Bill Hader on the new 3-D animated romp "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs." In addition to being pelted by gigantic steaks, engorged hot dogs and juicy burgers, the two leads actually had character arcs and emotional journeys to navigate.
"What I... liked about playing her was that she’s feisty and frustrated," Faris tells reporters of her turn as aspiring weathergirl Sam Sparks. "They really had a specific character. Sometimes you play a character and you have no idea what the character is like, and the character is just serving other characters softballs, or something. But, this was great, and I love the way she looks."
But Sam's looks are standing in her way, forcing her to dumb down her own meteorological interests. In a reverse of the "She's All That" formula, Sam only self-actualizes when she puts her hair up and dons glasses.
"It was really fun to have that reversal" says Faris. "Normally, you have the nerdy girl become hot and cool, and it was fun to flip that on its head, a little bit. Thematically, I guess it’s a little sad that she feels the need to suppress that. But, I had a blast doing it. 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."
Hader, playing the film's hero Flint Lockwood, a bumbling, but well-meaning inventor, had a different challenge. In his time on "Saturday Night Live" and in animated features like "Doogal" and "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs," Hader has proven to be a master mimic, but he's avoided doing one voice over the years.
"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?'" says Hader, whose character is driven by a yearning for the affection of his emotionally reserved father (James Caan). "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, just doing this work. If you watch it, we’re all at a 10, through the whole movie."
Hader adds, "There is an emotional thing to it. There were scenes in it 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 was like, 'You’re a British guy,' or whatever, and you just do that and it’s a little character. But, with this, I remember doing the scene when Flint’s in the trash can, and they were really talking me through it. They were like, 'You’re really sad.' And then, I saw that scene in the movie and my wife got really sad during it. She was like, 'Aw, you’re in a trash can.'"
Yes, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" is grounded in human moments. Or maybe the human moments are grounded in absurdity, as Flint's most successful invention awash in delicious and oversized edibles. Either way, Hader and Faris credit writer-directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord with maintaining the balance.
"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.' They’d be like, 'Okay, the spaghetti twister is coming toward you. This is a real moment,'" Hader cracks.
While most animated films usually record actors separately, Hader and Faris got to record together. For about two days. However brief that collaboration was, though, it appears to have worked.
"A journalist complimented us on our chemistry," Faris laughs.
Hader adds, "She kinda 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.'"
"Cloud with a Chance of Meatballs" hits theaters in 3-D on Friday, Sept. 18.
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
Let Streaming Genie help you.