Bill Hader talks about returning as Flint Lockwood in Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, debuting in theaters September 27
While he is best known for his eight-year stint on Saturday Night Live that ended earlier this year, Bill Hader is truly a man of many diverse talents. Along with his incredible repertoire of impressions and numerous side-splitting performances in movies such as Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Paul, he has also won an Emmy for his work as a writer and producer on the long-running Comedy Central hit series South Park.
The talented performer returns as Flint Lockwood from 2009's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in the upcoming sequel Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, arriving in theaters September 27. I recently had the chance to speak with the actor over the phone about this animated follow-up, where Flint learns that his powerful invention, the FLDSMDFR, has been churning out food-beast hybrids known as "foodimals," while getting the chance to work with his idol, the brilliant Chester V. (Will Forte). Take a look at what he had to say about returning for the sequel and much more.
At the end of the first Cloudy movie, we actually got an early glimpse of the foodimals. Did you know they were planning on expanding on that as much as they did in the sequel?
Bill Hader: No, not at all, actually. I had no idea, but when I read it, I was like, 'Oh, yeah, obviously' (Laughs).
Flint gets to meet his idol, Chester V., and I thought that adoration really came through in the voice performance. Were there any particular idols of yours that you would think about meeting, to get yourself into that mindset?
Bill Hader: Not necessarily, in terms of the movie, no. Knowing that Will Forte was doing the voice helped. He was always one of the funniest dudes, when I was at SNL, so that helped. I didn't know what voice he was doing, though, until I saw the movie.
There is some really great stuff about Flint and the relationship with his dad, voiced by James Caan. After seeing the first one, did you kind of have that voice in your head, and think about how he would deliver the next line?
Bill Hader: Kind of, yeah. That's the thing. The directors really have you do every permutation of a line, so then they build your performance, really, in post-production. You record stuff constantly, and the majority of your job when recording these movies, is re-recording. They'll say, 'OK, we looked at the scene that you did, and we feel it's not really working that much. Maybe just add a different emotion to it or a different tone to it.' That's usually how it works.
I read that the directors were going out and buying all of this food and carving their own replica foodimals. Did they have any of that on the set, when you would go in to record, to get a visual of what these things look like?
Bill Hader: Sometimes. They're just really good at describing things. They're very visual. It was very clear that (directors) Kris (Pearn) and Cody (Cameron) had it in their head, the way that everything was going to work. They did a really good job of conveying that. We're such a small piece of the puzzle. What really makes these movies so good is the animation and the sound design and the spectacle of it. You sit there and record these things for a year and a half, just constantly recording, so it's interesting when you see it and you go, 'Oh man, look at all the amazing voices these guys did.'
The schedule for an actor in an animated film is so much different than in a live-action feature, where you're on a set, in character, for weeks on end. Since you go back and forth, is that difficult to maintain the continuity of that character?
Bill Hader: It's not that hard, and the Flint voice is just my voice in a higher register, pretty much. Just making my voice higher and screaming. Sometimes they would say to me, 'Hey man, that was a little bit gruff and mature, more of your voice in there. Put a little more Flint into it.' That was usually just when I was tired, towards the end of the session.
I really enjoyed both of these films, and I have to imagine that this sequel will be just as successful as the first. With that being said, is there anything in particular you'd like to see Flint tackle in Cloudy 3, which I would imagine is inevitable?
Bill Hader: I don't know. It'd be funny if he came back in Cloudy 3 and he was just super-jacked. They never mention it. You see movies like that where they come back and they've aged a bit and filled out. They just look different, like Anthony Michael Hall or something. It'd be funny if they did that.
Like that one season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, where Mac is just completely fat?
Bill Hader: Yeah. He's just big, for one movie, and they animated him big. If they did a fourth one, he would go back. Like if he saw the third one, he would go, 'Oh, man, I've got to lose weight.'
That's awesome. In looking through your filmography, there is quite the balance between animation and live-action. Has that always been your approach, or is that important for you to achieve that balance?
Bill Hader: It really is that I just love all different types of movies. I never really think about it in those terms. It's just whatever I read or I'm presented with. I never consciously go, 'How do I do my career?'
I think it's awesome that you're on the South Park writing staff this season. Aside from the NSA episode ("Let Go, Let Gov"), are there any other stories you can tease?
Bill Hader: I don't know what we're going to do, but we have ideas for other episodes or ideas that are partially-written. That's what we're going to talk about on Thursday, what we are doing for next week, so we don't know. I asked (series co-creator) Trey (Parker) that yesterday, because I'm in New York doing press. After our writer's meeting on Tuesday, I said, 'What episode are we doing next week?' He said, 'I dunno' (Laughs).
Is there a possibility that you may voice a character this season?
Bill Hader: I don't know. We'll see if they want me to. It's up to them. I never vie for that kind of stuff, I never ask. It's up to them. I approach it as, 'You're helping them with their show.' If they said, 'Hey man, do you want to do this?' I'd say, 'Yeah, sure.'
Is there anything you can say about how this season of South Park is being approached? You're going straight through with 10 episodes instead of splitting the season up. Do you think that approach is beneficial to run through like that?
Bill Hader: Yeah, it's nice because you get a nice groove going. This, to be honest, is my first time being a writer for a full season on the show, so it's the only thing I know how to do, I guess (Laughs).
You also voice Fear in the Pixar movie Inside Out, which sound really intriguing. Is that character represent what makes this little girl scared, or is it actually her being frightened?
Bill Hader: Oh, I think it's just the interpretation of fear, the emotion of fear in her heard. It's nothing that's scaring her, but more of an interpretation of that.
You also have a role in The Good Dinosaur. I was curious if your voice work has been affected by the director's departure at all?
Bill Hader: Oh, no. To be honest, I just did my first session for that a month ago, and I'm hearing about all that stuff the same as you guys are. The last time I heard, the movie isn't going to come out until a little bit later, so they can make it right. Instead of rushing this in and making something not up to their standards, they wait to make sure they do it right.
Is there anything that you're working on now or planning to shoot this fall that you can talk about?
Bill Hader: No, I'm just working at South Park, and I did The Skeleton Twins with Kristen Wiig, which is a drama that will be playing in festivals and stuff. That was a lot of fun working on that.
Yeah, that story sounds really intriguing, about these two siblings. It was something I've never quite heard of before.
Bill Hader: Yeah, we're two twins and I'm her gay brother and I end up moving in with her and her husband, played by Luke Wilson.
What would you like to say to the fans of Cloudy about why they should come back for the sequel?
Bill Hader: I think a lot of the stuff they liked from the first movie is there, the irreverent sense of humor and stuff like that, but this one definitely has a bigger scope to it. It's very much its own movie, which is cool. It's one of those sequels where if you like the first movie, you will like this one, but it's definitely it's own thing.
Great. That's all I have. Thanks so much, Bill. It was great talking to you.
Bill Hader: Thanks.
Bill Hader returns as the voice of Flint Lockwood in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, arriving in theaters September 27.