Who would have guessed that the most fun I'd have at the "Cars 2" press day would be with Larry The Cable Guy?
I'm no snob. I don't spend my time sneering at Larry or at his audience. I am perfectly happy accepting that not all entertainment is manufactured for me, and that not every audience is going to want the same things I want. I think some critics find it necessary to dismiss anything they don't personally enjoy, but that's silly. Nobody is the ideal audience for everything.
When I was getting settled in, just before the cameras rolled, I asked Larry if he would ever make the same sort of professional switch that Dwayne Johnson did when he stopped going by "The Rock" and just became "Dwayne Johnson" on a full-time basis, and Larry responded with a quick and confident, "Nope."
He says he is very happy with his audience, and as long as they seem happy with him, he doesn't see any need to change his persona. He pointed out that his History Channel TV show, "Only In America," allows room for the Dan Whitney side of his personality to shine through a little more than his stage show does, but he seems pretty content doing what he's doing.
And why not? After all, he got a promotion in "Cars 2," with Tow Mater, his character, moving to center-stage for this one. And to be fair, I think his work here is strong and even occasionally nuanced. He does exactly what he was hired to do, and he does it with a real passion. He loves Mater, clearly, and I would certainly hope so. This character has changed his life, opening him up to an audience so much larger than he could have ever reached as "just" a comedian, and I'm sure the merchandising money has made him stupid rich beyond his wildest dreams.
Even so, he was energetic, excited, and engaged for our interview, and his co-star Emily Mortimer was just as adorable and sweet as I would have hoped. She's such a gifted performer, easily moving back and forth between demanding drama and silly comedy, and she seems at home with both. I think the chemistry between them was on full display, and more than that, they worked hard to keep the time we had to talk fun and light and entertaining.
Did they succeed? Well, you be the judge.
"Cars 2" opens everywhere in 2D, 3D, and IMAX on June 24, 2011.
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