Drew Carey, Amanda Bynes and Jennifer Coolidge talk about becoming Robots
Robots features many voice actors in their first ever animated feature film. Drew Carey, Amanda Bynes and Jennifer Coolidge had all done some TV cartoons, but nothing that took 10 sessions over the course of two years. Carey recalled the simplicity of his assignment.
"They just asked me to do it and I said yes," Carey said. "There was really nothing to it. Early on they showed me drawings. I already knew I was going to do it, but they showed me artist sketches of what the backgrounds would look like and different characters would look like. They looked really great. I knew since they did Ice Age, it wasn't like they were amateurs and this was their first thing. I just wanted to be part of a big, huge animated movie because I thought it would be fun."
Carey was not sure why he had not done an animated movie until now. "Nobody asked me. You're asking the wrong guy. It was easy. I liked that everybody was nice and easy to work with."
Used to the ensemble of his sitcom and the improvisational comedy groups he works with, Carey was still able to acclimate himself to the solitary world of the recording studio. "Because I've done, like, voiceover commercial stuff and that kind of stuff, that wasn't a problem."
Making a film about robots made Carey lament that we do not yet live in a world populated by artificial intelligence. "We haven't come that far, have we? There was the promise of The Jetsons and everything. We get [roomba?], that's our big robot. Robosapien, which I'm not a big fan of. Didn't you think robots were going to be [everywhere?] I always wanted to get one of those little dogs. I actually looked for one lately and I couldn't find one. When you were a kid, didn't you think robots were going to be a bigger thing? I think that the way cars are, they are kind of robotic, because GPS tells you wear to go and the voice comes on, that's kind of a robot thing."
And he wants one. "I'd buy one if they had a robot that did cool things and was actually smart and would cook and get my drinks and stuff. In the movies it was always like a servant robot thing. Here's a robot, you say bring me my martini, and the robot shows up when you get home from work. ‘Nice to have you home again.' I guess it would be fun. I think the robot world they made for this movie was really cool looking. It was really well observed and I believed everything in the robot world, like the guy buffing his lawn, you know? And the woman with the birds, she lined them up and launched them all around the bench. And Amanda Bynes buffing her face in her room, all that stuff I thought, ‘Wow. That's really good, they really brought a robot world to life.' I thought that was really cool, the stuff they did."
Amanda Bynes began working on Robots when she was 15 and now she is 18. Despite doing some Rugrats episodes, she had to get used to working without other actors.
"It's definitely odd especially because whenever you are acting in a scene in someone, you are standing next to them," Bynes said. "And when you are doing a voice over, you are acting with the director more than the other actor so it's definitely an interesting thing but its different. Sometimes they give you clips of what the other person has done and you're constantly doing things over. I did some lines, I had no idea which ones they'd pick when I went in, I'd do it again. They like to have options."
While some actors simply read all of their lines in a row, Bynes asked her director for some reciprocation. "Initially, I sort of just started to do it by myself. Then I said, ‘Do you mind playing the other part?' and we'd talk back and forth and that really helped me. Because it's odd just to do one line at a time. It helps me to have a rhythm and be acting with someone as opposed to just saying a line."
Bynes actually saw her character change after she began recording the voice. "Before I started they actually had a rough image of what it was going to be, but once I got the part and I started doing it, they gave the character green eyes because I have green eyes and they started saw how I move and they added that to the character."
Now she sees herself in the robot. "She has a joy of life and she's happy and excited to be alive. I think that I tried to instill a lot of my own excitement for life in the character."
After finally getting to see the film, Bynes was amazed by the final product. "It was very exciting because, like I said, it was a long process. So having taken so much time, it's exciting to see it all put together. What I imagine having a child is like. You're proud and tired and exciting. The whole time I was watching this movie, I had a nervous stomach. You get nervous and it's like you and your heart are put out there so its scary but I'm very proud of the movie. What's special about doing a movie like this is you sort of forget all the different things you've done so watching it, its like ‘oh yeah.' It really is like an old sweater that you forgot that you love and it's exciting."
Jennifer Coolidge also noticed her character adapt to her own mannerisms. "They might have been changing it to match me," She said. I think that's how the process goes, but I thought that the very first drawing that's sent to your house is what all the characters are going to look like, and then of course I hear they have to go through many meetings and all that. But I think that the best stuff happened from [when] they put the video camera on you when you're doing all the voice stuff, and you never meet any of these people. I thought Ewan McGregor and I'd be hanging out, I didn't know I would be alone in a dark room. But the put the video camera on you, when you're saying, ‘Big Weld,' then when your eyes get big, they manage to make the animated creature's eyes get big, so they have your facial expressions."
Having only done a few King of the Hill episodes, Coolidge did not even know how she was cast in Robots. "You don't really know sometimes how you get these jobs. My agent said he got it for me, but then I heard, or I asked Chris Wedge how I got in on this, and he said, ‘Well, the casting director had some tapes of your voice from Legally Blonde,' and you just don't know how you get the job."
Now she loves voice work. "There's nothing to dislike about it. It is the best gig because the animation people are much nicer than the other facets of show business, I really mean it. Animated people are just on a whole different level, they're incredibly friendly and nice, they treat you really well and you don't have that feeling of being fired like you have on other jobs."
The work schedule was a relief as well. "We did it over at Fox in those sound edit rooms, and of course we did it over a couple of years. You'd come in every once in a while and do a little thing and they'd video tape, and then you'd leave and then next year you'd get another call to come in."
On the downside, such an infrequent work commitment made character consistency a challenge. "I can't remember how many times I was like, ‘You guys, I haven't done this for a year, can you guys playback anything I've done?' I had no idea what I had done. You try doing it, and you sound like a completely different character, and then they would have to send the footage over."
Robots opens Friday.