Imagine walking out of your hotel room and almost running right into Jason Bateman! That is exactly what happened to me during the Zootopia Press Event at Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge. I was on my way to interview Jason Bateman and there he was right outside my door.
I took a deep breath and tried not to fangirl like crazy as I walked behind him towards the interview. It was really fun watching the staffs reaction as he walked by and they realized who it was. Disney staff are so good they simply smiled and nodded to him and went on with their work.
Going into a celebrity interview is interesting. You never really know what it is going to be like. Will they be friendly? Will they answer your questions and give you a real look into their experience with the movie? Will you get so tongue tied that you can’t speak and just blubber away? All of these are questions that race through my mind as we get ready for interviews.
I was early to the interview and managed to grab a seat in the front row. This is always an amazing experience but yet a little terrifying. You can’t hide in the group and not be seen when you are in the front row. You get the full experience of eye contact and talking with the person you are interviewing.
Jason Bateman was an easy interview. He was funny, open, happy, and engaging during our time with him!
The time we spent with Jason Bateman literally flew by and went way to quickly. He is the type of guy you could easily sit with and talk too for hours. So funny and engaging!
Q. How was it filming an animated movie compared to animated TV shows?
The other animation work was really so quick. This is for all intents and purposes my first, it’s a really interesting process because you know, as an actor you can say your line and then you’ve got your face and your body language and everything to kind of contribute to the whole thing. With this, obviously you just have your voice to use and then you hope that the animators that you pass that line reading off to are going to make the character do something that either supports what you’ve done or offset it or juxtapose it.
Cause it’s kind of a cocktail to make somebody laugh with something. You don’t realize how many little components there are. I mean, I don’t mean to sound like some kind of a comedy scientist but I mean we all do it, you know. When you tell a joke or a story there’s inflection and then there’s facial gestures and it’s a pretty strange thing to just hope that the rest of the recipe gets cooked in the right way. And there’s not much of a fear that that sounding like Disney animation.
So it’s an exciting thing to be a part of.
Q: As a Dad did you go into this movie with a different mindset since your daughters can see the movie?
Yeah, it’s very, very cool to be leaving home to do a job that I can prove that I was actually doing. It didn’t show that way with the other stuff, knowing that they are going to see it. I have two little girls, nine and four, knowing that they are going to see it, it gives you pride. First of all, it’s the only movies that I see now, you know, that we all know, like a kid movie comes out, like you have to take them and you just hope that it’s good.
And if it’s not good, you are still buying a ticket to it. You still have to sit there. You just might catch a little nap, you know? But with this one there won’t be any napping cause this company is so good at bringing some stuff in there for us that whether it be thematic or, or just with the jokes, there’s always kind of that parallel lane of satisfaction for the adults.
And in this one, there are some really great issues and teams that, you know, I don’t know if my nine-year-old really picks up on some of the nuance and sophistication of kind of these heady, highbrow issues in here yet, but I’ll bet you some of it kind of permeates, and when the coin finally does drop maybe when she’s another year older or something when we’re watching it for the 20th time at home, as we all buy it again when it comes on.
It’s a nice tool for me as a dad to talk about like in this film racism or xenophobia or fear mongering or bullying. It’s when I have a character that I can, I can pause and I can say okay, you see how that, you know, hippopotamus kind of like gave a look to the — so it kind of makes the medicine go down a little bit easier and it makes it a little less ominous for them to kind of broach these subjects.
It’s a nice tool for me as a parent, you know, I like that
Q. What is Nick Wilde’s favorite color?
Nick Wilde’s favorite color, probably Green, right, because he’s a scam artist, he likes the cash. That’s a great answer.
Q. As a parent do find yourself ever relating to Mr. and Mrs. Hopps?
Can I relate to those parents? Well, if you mean the fact that they’re concerned about their daughter going to the big city, yeah, I mean of course. If you’re like me, you hope and pray that you’re not going to be the kind of parent that when they are allowed to and should leave the house that you are going to be paralyzed with this fear that ugh.
I’ve got, what do I have, I have another nine years left, at least with Francesca, to get myself ready to be confident that she’s got a good enough decision maker on her shoulders to go out there and navigate, you know, the inevitable challenges. I mean, think about all the stuff that you guys have been exposed to that your parents never dreamed that you would be and you being good people didn’t really willingly get into dangerous situations but it just happens.
I’m really trying to be okay with the fact that I can’t keep her in a bubble, and I can’t control her whole life. And so, the only kind of peace that I can give myself is I’m confident that she knows how to make good decisions, so that’s my job. So, I will keep working hard to, you know, build her as good a car as possible so she can drive through it.
Q: Does any of your personality go into your character?
Yeah, I mean, I’m not a big fan of seeing a lot of acting, you know? Like I mean, I think that’s the goal, is to not act, to look natural so I try to use as much of me as possible in any part that I play plus that I’m also pretty lazy, so any character I play is always inside my skillset, sort of my goal post.
If I read a script and there’s a character that is so far from me that I would have to do a lot of acting to play that character, then just kind of by definition I probably shouldn’t play that character because then you are going to see acting, you know? So yes, there is quite a conniving, sarcastic fatigued part of me. My mother is British so she kind of taught me that kind of sense of humor, that dry, reactive sort of sense of humor.
So hopefully, I know how to kind of, you know, use it in a good way.
Q: How long was the process for you shooting Zootopia?
The call first came in about a little over three years ago and we started sessions right around then, so about three years of recording sessions and those happened like once every couple of months and each one would take two hours, so about 20-25 sessions, two hours a piece, and with each session you do about two or three scenes, which are anywhere from three to five pages each.
And the way you do it usually is you just kind of record you reading through top to bottom and the director will kind of read the other part. You’ve got to make sure you don’t overlap because his voice would be on my track then. They record that a couple of times and then you go in and you record each line individually about six to 10 times a bunch of different ways. You do one kind of fast, one kind of slow, one kind of angry, one kind of happy, and just give them a bunch of choices because they don’t know what the other actor is going to do that’s actually reading the line that follows you, you know, in this kind of conversation.
So, there’s just an immense amount of work that they have to do to cobble it all together and blend that cocktail, you know? Um, it’s a neat process, it really is.
Here is more info about Jason Batemans Character – Nick Wilde from Disney
Nick Wilde is a very charming and very sly small-time, con-artist fox with a big mouth and a lot of opinions. “He’s a complete cynic,” says Howard. “He’s the opposite of Judy. She grew up in the country—he grew up in the city. He is very much a pragmatist. He doesn’t care what the city motto is, he does not think anyone can be anything.” Adds Moore, “Nick believes that we are what we are and that’s all we’ll ever be. He believes deep down that no one will ever trust him because he’s a fox.”
Animators ensured that the character maintained animal qualities—paying careful attention to his elbows and shoulders to ensure they didn’t appear too human-like. But in Nick’s case, filmmakers found that real-life foxes played against the character’s personality. Says co-head of animation Tony Smeed, “We use the curl of his tail to push the fox silhouette on Nick. But unlike a real fox, who’s timid and skittish, Nick is very casual and laid back.” Nick’s career as a con artist played into his overall look. Says Loftis, “While Hopps’ fur is well maintained, we wanted to make Nick a little rough around the edges and raggedy— like maybe he doesn’t brush his fur very often. Then we dressed him in a Hawaiian shirt with slacks and a tie that we’re guessing he tied once and just slips it on and off.” Smeed, who headed up Nick’s animation, says that artists also used the character’s facial features to showcase his personality—adding controls to create signature expressions and appealing shapes. “The eyes are the gateway to the soul,” says Smeed. “Playing with the shape of his eyes and the angle of his mouth can do so much—Nick always has that half-lid thing going on and a smirk on his face, which is his way of taking control of a situation—without looking like he’s trying too hard. He’s a quick thinker. “His ears convey what he’s feeling,” Smeed continues. “If he’s alert or on his heels, his ears are up. If he’s playing it cool, his ears hang lower in the back. And if he’s scared or in trouble, they’re down and pinned back.”
Jason Bateman was called on to give voice to the sly fox. “Nick isn’t exactly a nice guy,” says Bush. “But Jason Bateman somehow makes him likable, appealing and oddly charming. Nick is cynical and hilarious in a Jason Bateman kind of way.” “Nick is sarcastic with a lot of dry wit,” says Bateman. “I’ve done a bit of that kind of acting before so I guess that’s why they called me.” According to producer Clark Spencer, it was Bateman’s ability to be simultaneously sarcastic and likable that drew filmmakers to him. “He’s charming as a person and that really comes across in his voice,” says Spencer. “He can deliver the harshest line—Nick likes to put Judy in her place—but do it in a way that doesn’t alienate the character from the audience. It’s extraordinary.” Bateman says acting in an animated film was a unique experience. “It’s a completely different process,” he says. “I just tried to give them as many options as I could dream up—different ways to say each line. The filmmakers make the cocktail later. “It’s honestly an honor to be a part of a Disney film,” continues Bateman. “They’re the only films I get to see nowadays because I’ve got two little girls, 8 and 3, so I’ve become a big fan. I’ve enjoyed watching the evolution of animation.”
ABOUT THE MOVIE
The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together—a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But when rookie Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin) arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman), to solve the mystery. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Zootopia,” a comedy-adventure directed by Byron Howard (“Tangled,” “Bolt”) and Rich Moore (“Wreck-It Ralph,” “The Simpsons”), and produced by Clark Spencer (“Wreck-It Ralph,” “Lilo & Stitch”) opens in theaters on March 4, 2016.
For more information, check out the website at http://movies.disney.com/zootopia
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