Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2: Cast Interviews!
By: Lynn Barker
What will weather reporter Sam (voice of Anna Faris) and her inventor guy Flint (voice of Bill Hader) do when Flint’s food machine, supposedly destroyed at the end of the first “Meatballs”, starts creating mutant and dangerous munchy-beasts like tacodiles, shrimpanzees and apple pie-thons? Rush back to Swallow Falls to clean up the mess of course. The new film story starts shortly after the last movie ends.
Kidzworld is at the Sony Animation Studios in Culver City, California sitting down for a chat with Anna, Bill and Benjamin (who voices Sam’s Guatemalan cameraman Manny).
First, the film’s producer helps us carve some crazy “foodimals” out of leeks, lemons bananas and add eyes and mouth to a tomato (these people have way too much fun). Then the film’s directors tell us how they developed the new story for the second “Meatballs” movie. Anna, Bill and Benjamin come in and notice our semi-lame food animals on the table.
- Bill: Oh, don’t touch those!
- Anna: I’m likin’ the tomato.
Kidzworld: Did they show you all drawings of the foodimals or your characters before you recorded the voices? And do you have a favorite foodimal?
- Anna: Yes. They would show us the storyboards as they were building them and I’m partial to the Tacodile and Berry because my character loves that little strawberry. He’s her type.
- Bill: I really like Berry too. I think Berry’s pretty great. I like Tomato. That’s my favorite.
- Benjamin: Who ever thought a taco could be menacing? I’m a fan of tacos so I’m gonna go with Tacodile.
Kidzworld: Benjamin, you are having a great animated summer (he is also the voice of baddie Eduardo/El Macho in Despicable Me 2). Are you excited about all this voice-over stuff you’ve been doing?
- Benjamin: It’s fun. The coolest part of it with my kids who are 10 (daughter) and 7 (son), is it’s an opportunity to have them participate in what I do at some level and they’re getting a big kick out of their old man being in some of their favorite movies. And this is a sequel to one of their favorites. Then Despicable Me 2 is also a sequel too so a pretty fun summer so far.
Kidzworld: So your kids make a connection (between the character on screen and his voice)?
- Benjamin: Oh yeah. This is the first time they’ve made a connection and my stock has gone up in the house. Dad is finally cool in their eyes.
Kidzworld: How does voice over work compare to your other acting.
- Benjamin: You just roll out of bed with your pajamas, unshowered and unshaven and…
- Bill: You’re just screaming all day, screaming for hours. You stand in one place and scream for four hours.
Kidzworld: So Anna and Bill, are your characters Flint and Sam married now in this new film?
- Bill: Naw, I think they’re living together. I’m joking (laughter).
- Benjamin: It’s a trial run.
- Bill: Yeah. He’s leaving stuff at her house. No. They are boyfriend/girlfriend maybe, going with each other.
- Benjamin: In the 60 seconds that lapsed between this one and the last one, he said to her “Will you go with me?” (laughter).
Kidzworld: So how has the relationship changed in this one then?
- Bill: Well Flint wants to get the girl in the first movie and in the second movie, he doesn’t know how to hold on to her.
- Anna: He sort of takes Samantha, Sam Sparks, I don’t think she’s ever referred to as Samantha.. for granted.
- Bill: Yeah, he takes her for granted immediately. They start dating and he immediately takes her for granted.
- Benjamin: As boys are wont to do.
- Bill: As us dummies are wont to do.
Kidzworld: How is it working with two new directors as opposed to the first film?
- Anna: They both have similar sensibilities in terms of enjoying bizarre humor and really living in an animated world. I think it’s so impressive how truly they immerse themselves in these stories and how they sort of live it for years.
- Bill: It takes them so long to do these movies and people work so hard to do them that it’s pretty insane when you think back on your first recording session and you’re still doing it. The movie is coming out and I’m still (recording) stuff.
Kidzworld When did you start recording the voice for this one?
- Anna: Maybe starting two years, maybe a year and a half ago. You tend to do a bunch of (recording sessions) right away. Your first sessions are pretty intense. You go through the whole script and then, as you go on, they want to tweak certain things or they’ve made a line change.
- Bill: Yeah, they rewrite a lot. Both movies the opening narration that Flint does, I’ve done maybe a thousand times (he laughs). That’s always the last thing. For the first movie, the opening narration, I was shooting a movie in Santa Fe and they called me and said, “This is the eleventh hour but we have to have you redo the whole thing because we rewrote the whole thing.” I was in this little recording studio in Santa Fe. It was this guy going “Whoa, this is a big movie” so they played the movie and I had to do ADR for that whole opening. So when I see the movie, I always think of being in this little cubby hole recording it.
- Anna: Most of the time you don’t see the movie (while you are recording) and the directors have to walk you through moment by moment. You have the script but even then you don’t really have a sense of what’s going on.
- Benjamin: (looking at drawings of characters on the wall) It’s like that.
- Bill: That’s what I was just thinking. They give you that (drawings) and that’s the best example and sometimes you get these little storyboards or story reels with some other person doing the voice, a scratch track of someone doing Flint and you watch that and go “Okay, I see what this scene is” then we do it. But (directors) Cody and Kris are really good at saying “Here is what just happened. Here is what’s about to happen and this scene is in the middle of that”.
- Anna: That must make them crazy having to do that for us all this time.
- Bill: Yeah, like having to explain a syrup “pancake bog” to these dumb actors. For the first movie they explained it to me and I’m like “Okay, cool”. Then, I went to the movie and saw it in 3-D and I was like “Whoa! Oh my God. The gummy bears are the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!”
Kidzworld: Each of you, from the script arriving on your doorstep to the red carpet or movie press day, what is your favorite and least favorite aspect of making animated movies?
- Benjamin: The challenge of this kind of performance is different than any other you’ll face whether you’re on stage in New York or on a film set or a television set. It’s a totally different process because, typically, in those situations, you are reliant on the chemistry or the electricity you build with another performer.
- In this case you don’t have any of that. It’s all manufactured out of thin air really. It’s off the page and with whatever enthusiasm of (the director) giving you readings of your cues as you (record). So, in that sense, there is so much uncertainty that you are going with your gut instinct and you try to “mine the funny”. We’re all always looking for the funny. You’re never really sure until they assemble it together and, if it gets laughs, then you know it rings true. It’s cool.
- Bill: Yeah. Ben said it really well. Not having any interaction with other actors is just part of the process so I’m not saying I don’t like it.
- Benjamin: That’s the unique challenge and I see it as one of the most interesting parts of the process. No offense but doing press is one of the things I most dislike.
- Anna: I think my favorite part (of the process) is seeing the end product (final film) because it’s unlike being in a regular, live-action film where you feel a little more in touch with everything. Doing a voice is huge of course but technically, we are such a small part of the process.
- Bill: For me, probably my least favorite thing is the drive to the recording studio. I’m so anxious. “What the (heck) am I gonna do? Do I have the energy for this?” Then I get there and I calm down a little bit. I get anxious before performing so I’ll be in the car and be looking at my iPad by in my head I’m like “You don’t have it. You’re washed up. You can’t bring it. This is gonna suck. They’re gonna fire you”. (Anna and Benjamin laugh). Then my favorite part is the drive back. Where I’m like “Good, I was all right. I was okay”.
Kidzworld: Would you all come back for “Meatballs 3”?
- Anna: Oh, I would in a heartbeat.
- Bill: Yeah.
- Benjamin: Yeah.
- Anna: I love playing Sam!
Kidzworld: If you could bring any of the characters you’ve played before into the “Cloudy” universe, which would they be?
- Anna: I’ve gotta do Jane from Smiley Face. She would freak out.
- Bill: I’d do Stefon. (His hilarious “Sat. Nite Live” character)
- Benjamin: Is there room for a gang-banger in this movie series? (laughter)
- Bill: That would be the best thing ever!
- Benjamin: El Gallo Negro! “Aye, esse, what the (heck) is goin’ on? There’s a bunch of Tacodiles tryin’ to eat me!” (laughter). “That berry’s talking, man!”
Kidzworld: Favorite animated movie ever?
- Benjamin: Finding Nemo is hard to beat. That’s a brilliant film.
- Bill: The last one that really got me and my wife was Up, especially the opening of Up. We were in the theater completely just crying our eyes out. “I F-n’ love you so much!” We were having a total existential crisis, “That’s gonna happen! Me and you, that’s gonna happen. I love you”.
- Anna: As a kid I loved Fox and Hound and Bambi but I think Eddie Murphy’s performance in Shrek was a total game changer. It really changed how people animate voices now.
- Benjamin: That was very well done. There was one called The Secret of Nimh. That was sweet and really messed up.
- Anna: The Last Unicorn.
- Bill: You and unicorns. So girlie.
- Anna: I like rainbows too.
- Bill: (in little boy voice) Go play with your rainbows and your Barbies. You’re gross.
Kidzworld: Are any of you reconsidering taking certain roles because you have kids now and they are too young to see the movies?
- Bill: No. My daughter doesn’t know. She’s three. She watches “Cloudy” and loves it and has no idea that’s me. I’m like “That’s daddy!” and she’s like (blank expression) “That’s a cartoon character. You’re weird”. If I make out with Ty Burrell in a movie. She might be confused. (laughs).
Kidzworld: What is everyone working on next?
- Anna: I’m doing a TV show for CBS called “Mom” and we just started, we just filmed our second episode outside of the pilot on Friday and we’re working again this week. It’s really terrifying. It premieres Sept. 23rd. I’m really excited about it.
- Bill: My wife (Maggie Carey) just did a movie called The To-Do List and I’m in that. I did a movie with Kristen Wiig called The Skeleton Twins. It’s a drama, a small movie. Then a movie with James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain called The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby. And I’m writing on “South Park”.
- Benjamin: I am gainfully unemployed enjoying coaching my kid’s baseball team but I’m really excited about a six hour, three night PBS documentary coming out in September called “Latino Americans” (he is interviewed on it) which is essentially a history of Latinos from 500 years ago till now.
Catch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 in theaters now!