Clark Duke Talks Thunk in The Croods, available now on Blu-ray and DVD
A hit with audiences of all ages when it was released theatrically this past March, DreamWorks Animation's The Croods is finally coming home on Blu-ray and DVD today, October 1. This family animated adventure follows the world's first prehistoric brood as they set out on an inaugural road trip, where they discover a fantastical and uncharted world.
Comedic actor Clark Duke leads a voice cast that also includes Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds and Cloris Leachman, playing the caveman son of Grug and Ugga. Thunk is a 9-year-old middle child, who is not very bright and has bad coordination but a good heart. We recently caught up with Clark to talk with him about this role in the CGI animated hit, his love of WWE, and where Thunk might be headed next.
Here is our conversation.
Did I see you at Summer Slam?
Clark Duke: Yeah! Were you there?
Yes! I was walking down the street, after it was over, and you passed by on the sidewalk.
Clark Duke: That was me! I go whenever they are in town.
We got tickets, and my buddy's wife was really jealous that we were going to sit in one of the boxes with the Wrestlers, cause she thought we were hanging out with Michael Cera. She had the name mixed up with John Cena. So my buddy was determined to find Michael Cera and take a pic to taunt her with it. We saw you and thought it would be just as cool, but we decided we didn't want to bother you.
Clark Duke: I love it! After we shot Hot Tub Time Machine, Rob Corddry and I were guests on WWE Raw, and we met up with a couple of the guys. We became buddies with them. So whenever I hear that there is a house show, or a Raw, whatever it is, I'll go if it's in Los Angeles. The Miz actually lives about two minutes away from me in L.A.
Those shows are so much fun!
Clark Duke: Its great. I'm always trying to explain to people, it's not what they think it is live. It's like going to Cirque du Soleil, or something.
It's crazy. Now, I know you're originally from Glenwood Arkansas. Every summer, I am dragged out to Dierks, Arkansas, and I didn't realize, until we showed Hot Tub Time Machine on a sheet out at the lake, that you're kind of a hometown hero in that area...
Clark Duke: Well, that's good to know. I didn't even know that. That's good.
You don't get the hometown hero reception when you go back home?
Clark Duke: I don't know...I do, but I don't even get to go back a lot. Except for the holidays, for the most part. People seem excited...
It's a different attitude out that way.
Clark Duke: It's a slower pace of living. Yeah, people in the south are nice in general, too.
You play Thunk in The Croods. Here, you're not so tied to what you sound like, or your appearance, so it's an opportunity to really do something different. Yet, at the same time, I have to imagine they hired you because they want Clark Duke. How do you balance that fine act of creating something you wouldn't get to outside of animation, while still bringing your essence into it?
Clark Duke: I think a lot of time, with the animation, it's all about the quality of your voice to some extent. But, it's interesting, because you are creating this thing from scratch. They replicate every tick you have in your voice as a mannerism. It was fun to try and figure out how to make him seem like a big lug of a guy, and make him seem like a little kid, and you are doing that all alone in a booth.
They take a lot of your mannerisms, and your facial movements, and add those into the character. While it doesn't look just like you, it still looks like you on some level, almost as if you are wearing digital make-up. Your appearance is noticeable in the character.
Clark Duke: Right, and I didn't understand that at first. I did some of the recordings, and then they showed me that footage. Everyone had a specific lead animator for their character. So I met my animator, and he showed me my face moving, and how I would talk. That's when I realized...They have a camera on you at all times, so they really are matching...Not facial features, necessarily, but facial movements. To your recording. That really opened it up for me, because I realized you can do anything you want here. I don't know...At first, I think I was afraid of...Oh, hold on! My brother just set the alarm off in my house. My brother is over here, and he set off the security alarm. What was I talking about just now?
You were talking about how your facial movements and your mannerisms wound up in the character...
Clark Duke: Right, once I realized the animators are animating it to you, and its not the other way around, I realized I...I'd never made an animated movie before...I think I went into it with the impression that I was going to have to match some preexisting thing. I was afraid to go off book too much. Then, once you realize that they are tailoring it around each individual person, it became really fun for me. Because you are free to do anything.
Do they take you somewhere different when you have to record the stuff for toys and other things that will be using your voice?
Clark Duke: What do you mean? Like the video games?
Video games, toys, fast food commercials, anything that is tied into the movie that isn't the movie. Is that a different process? Or do you do it all in one go? You just mentioned your brother, I know sometimes actor's brothers will come in and stand-in for the voice..
Clark Duke: (Laughs) I wish I could send him into do stuff like that. I only did stuff for the movie. I didn't have to record anything extra or separate for the toys. They did send me a box of the toys. I got a little care package. I got a little figure of myself. It doesn't have my voice in it. Maybe they would of had to pay us more for that...I don't know.
Tom Hanks sends his brother into do a lot of that stuff. Like, if you pick up a Woody doll in Toys R Us, chances are its Tom Hanks' brother.
Clark Duke: His brother sounds just like him? My brother kind of sounds like me. I think we could get away with it. That's good to know. He gets out of school in May, I'll just start sending him places. Put some glasses on him, and he's good to go.
Do you know what is going on with the sequel for the Croods? They announced it was in production before the first movie even came out.
Clark Duke: Yeah! I don't know anything past that. Except that they want to make another one. I think it's too early. There isn't a script or anything. Not one they've shown me.
As an actor, do you even concern yourself with that? Do you sometimes think. 'Gosh, I hope Thunk gets to do this in the next one.' Or is it out of sight, out of mind when it comes to an animated movie?
Clark Duke: That is a pretty hypothetical situation. I haven't put a lot of thought into that! (Laughs) I mean, I'd like to do another one. But, yeah, it's a hard thing to think about or plan around, too much. Not until it's more real. You know?
On the reverse side of that, I am fascinated by these drunk lip syncs you have to do for Drunk History. What is that whole process like? You all nail the delivery, and it looks like it would be way to hard to learn...
I thought you were, but maybe I'm mixing them up in my head...
Clark Duke: I did one with Jack Black, but it was a few years ago. He had this audio, and we would just listen to it. We had the audio track, and we were trying to lip sync along. It never got too technical. We didn't even wear earpieces or anything.
I'm always amazed watching the actors on that show. It looks like that would be hard to do. You all nail it so perfectly. Maybe they reused your piece when it came to TV...
Clark Duke: Really?
Yeah. I remember seeing Jack Black on there too...