Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph Interview – SHREK THE THIRD

     May 8, 2007



This interview is with two of the leading ladies from “Saturday Night Live” – Maya Rudolf and Amy Poehler. Both of them play princesses in the new “Shrek” movie and both are quite funny to talk with. This is one of those interviews that you should listen to rather than read as the way they answer questions is a lot better when you hear it…



The highlight for me was getting to talk with Maya about a recent episode of “SNL”, it was the one that had Shia LaBeouf as a host. During that episode there was a great skit called Sofa King and the joke were the words sofa king. Try saying sofa king out loud a few times. Did you notice it sounds a lot like so fucking. That’s the joke.



With all the fines that the FCC has dished out recently I wanted to know the behind the scenes of that skit and was she more nervous than usual when delivering the lines… here is what I asked:



Maya, you were in a sketch on SNL like a week ago with Shia LaBeouf which was called “Sofa King” which I found quite funny. Is that something that, with the censors, you have to be very specific when saying these words?



Maya: Yeah, that was actually one of those weeks at work that was really fun because we got called into Lorne’s office and he was like ‘alright, look, if you guys don’t say sofa king as two words, we’re gonna get fined a million dollars every time’ so it was really scary and I guess standards and practices didn’t want us to do it and Lorne really wanted to do the sketch. It was really fun and very scary like Bill got called in, then I came in and Andy and Fred and we’re like ‘what’s going on’. We knew what it was but I was genuinely nervous that I might say what I wasn’t supposed to say because that’s all you can think about.



There are a lot of other great stories from the two of them and it’s a great interview. Once again I recommend listening to it rather than reading it… so you can download and listen to the interview as an MP3 here.



“Shrek the Third” gets released on May 18th.





Was there some kind of application process that maybe you needed to be part of SNL to be in this movie?



Amy: Oh yeah, there’s a there’s a lot of ex-SNLers, Meyers and Murphy.



Maya: Because it’s a comedy farm.



Amy: It’s the best place for comedy.



Maya: It’s the top banana.



Amy: It is. It’s comedy camp.



Maya: But Sedaris is a powerhouse without it.



Amy: And a lot of people don’t know that Julie Andrews was the original conehead. [laughter]



Amy, when they first told you Snow White, did you think of chirpy little birds and forest animals and not much fun? Did you know that she gets to kick butt?



Amy: Yeah. That was exciting. We were saying that she’s such an iconic figure that I wanted to try to do some new take on her and I thought it would be fun for her to be real bossy because she has a lot of people and animals that she takes care of. She’s always played so sweetly that I thought she could be a real type “A”.



Did you get to do a little interpretation of your characters? It wasn’t just ‘do it this way’?



Maya: We did. I guess I feel that everybody knows these characters. These characters are obviously established already so it was the movie’s job to give their funny, tongue-in-cheek idea of what everybody is. For Rapunzel, I really don’t remember much other than the tower and the hair but then you get the other side of her. She’s kind of like betraying her friends. Playing a little dirty and maybe her hair is not her own. [laughter]



When you got the script originally was it in there that she didn’t have her own hair or was that a Britney thing that came in later?



Maya: I think that actually happened pre-Britney.



Amy: A lot of things happened pre-Britney. People lived and died even before.



Maya: Tennis was invented.



Amy: But it was funs to play friends of Fiona. Cameron is great and we’ve worked with her on the show and she’s really a great lady, friendly girl. So, it was really nice to be part of her kind of gang. And, with the pregnancy storyline comes a lot of… the ladies kind of… I’ve been told. The ladies gather around and do baby showers and there are a lot of opinions.



But didn’t you all work separately doing the recording?



Amy: Oh yeah. Maya and I refused to be in the same room.. [kidding]. We were in solid gold booths that we recorded in four different parts of the world.



You are both very physical comics. Was it freeing or a challenge to just use your voice?



Maya: They tell you that there’s a little camera up in the corner watching your every move but I think they are studying your facial gestures and your movement. You’re sort of hoping that, when you see it, you’ll see some sort of thing that you do. I don’t really know how it works but it’s really incredible. The amount of time from the first time I recorded to when I saw the baby shower scene, we were all talking to each other and it was like ‘that’s what we did’?



Amy: [explaining to Maya] Animation is amazing. What they do is they take all this stuff and they throw it up in the air and it falls back down and it’s done.



Maya: Is it called ‘magic’?



Amy: Yeah, it’s called magic.



So, when you finally saw your character, did you notice anything and say ‘oh, that’s me’?



Amy: Maybe, there was a physical thing or two that I noticed but I’ve been lucky enough to do a little more animated stuff recently and it is a bit of a challenge. The fun thing is you can go really big and get kind of pulled back which I’ve never…. I’ve always been ‘go big or go home’.



Maya: Do you say that at home though? [big laughter]



[Lots of overlapping laughter]



Maya: it’s not like soap opera acting where you..



Did you look at other animated movies?



Amy: No, I didn’t do any research. Didn’t even read the script.



Maya: I don’t ever do research.



But some animated voice performances are better than others.



Amy: Every character is this film is amazing; really funny, really great, beautiful voices match really interesting, complex characters, I think. You kind of have to watch the film to see the best performances of the people doing it. I think you just try to be funny, right?



Maya: I tried to be really serious but they didn’t go for it which was weird.



Amy: That’s weird.



Was there something you tried and they said ‘pull it back’?



Maya: Because my character ends up being kind of a bitch to her friend, I didn’t know how to go so we did everything different ways. It was interesting to see, ‘okay, this is what they stuck with’ and then went from there. It actually sounded like me. But there was an idea that it was going to be more of a vixeny… because she’s trying to get her friends away and get to the guy. We just stuck with the old Rudolph.



Amy: You had some tweakage.



What did you do to give your characters a little more edge sometimes?



Amy: Snow White, in this film, she’s really bossy and she acts like she’s got it all together and then when things fall apart, she’s the first to freak out. She’s on edge a little bit. She’s the arm folder of the group [notices that she is sitting there with her arms folded and laughs]. So, there you go!



You did your own singing of course.



Amy: I did. But, I know if must have been sweetened because it sounded way too good. The Zeppelin stuff I got to sing and I can hear myself on there and I think that’s the first time Zeppelin’s ever let anything be used. I’ve been asking them every year if I can sing the Immigrant Song. It’s something I do and they finally said ‘yes’. [laughter] This happened to fit. They were like ‘fine’, ‘fine’. Then that thing [sings Snow White soprano, ‘ha, ha, ha ha’] that thing, I did do it but I think it must have been sweetened because it sounded really nice.



Maya: Maybe they sweetened my stuff.



Amy: Maya sings her song really well and I don’t think any of those songs are on the sound track.



Maya: That sucks.



Maybe on the DVD you could all comment over that baby shower scene and finally all be in the same room together.



Maya: Yeah. That would fun.



Amy: That would be fun. Todays kind of like the baby shower where were all in the same room together talking over each other but there’s no baby.



Maya, you were in a sketch on SNL like a week ago with Shia LaBeouf which was called “Sofa King” which I personally found quite funny. Is that something that, with the censors, you have to be very specific when saying these words?



Maya: Yeah, that was actually one of those weeks at work that was really fun because we got called into Lorne’s office and he was like ‘alright, look, if you guys don’t say sofa king as two words, we’re gonna get fined a million dollars every time’ so it was really scary and I guess standards and practices didn’t want us to do it and Lorne really wanted to do the sketch. It was really fun and very scary like Bill got called in, then I came in and Andy and Fred and we’re like ‘what’s going on’. We knew what it was but I was genuinely nervous that I might say what I wasn’t supposed to say because that’s all you can think about.



Like the cork soaking?



Maya: Yes, but this was much, much harder.



I’m sure you’re nervous doing live TV anyway, but were you more nervous?



Amy: You were giddy.



Maya: I was giddy but it was a little scary. Lorne started giving us examples, ‘when Charles Rocket said that thing’. Then so-in-so said ‘flogging’ and then just started saying ‘fucking’.



Amy: I’m always surprised we don’t’ do that on the show.



Maya: I’m always surprised myself because we don’t have a delay or anything. The way they had started the sketching they wanted us to say ‘sofa king’ and then ‘so fucking’ and then ‘no, no. Pull back’. ‘What do I do. God I’m scared’. It was really fun.



So Maya, has all the success of Blades of Glory made Amy a diva?



Maya: Misserus Poehler. (Amy starts to whisper and telling Maya what to say) No, she’s the same lady I know and love. She hasn’t changed. Everything’s great.



Amy: Charity kids. I still love ‘um. Still love my charity kids.



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I have a follow up to that episode… The Maya and Shia skit. At the end it looked like you totally got him to crack up.



Maya: I think I scared him. We had to cut fifteen seconds out of it fifteen seconds before I was supposed to go out there. Lorne walked by and said ‘we’re gonna do that sketch. We’re gonna cut fifteen seconds’. Then he walked off and I was ‘uhhhh’. They I had to find the writer ‘okay what should we cut’. We made if go faster because we didn’t want to lose a couple of things and I think when I threw the salad bowl, that scared him.



For both of you, do you ever try to get the host to laugh?



Maya: No. That’s cheatin’.



Amy: You usually like the host. It’s too nerve-wracking. Maybe other people do. You’ve got so much stuff going on. You’re thinking about what you just did. You’re running from scene to scene so to really throw people off like that would almost be not cool.



Maya: It would be mean. What comes with that job is the host gets thrown into it and we, I have to say, as a lady who has been there for seven years and Amy’s really good at this, is sort of part of the job is to make the host feel comfortable because they really don’t know what’s going on. They’re being whisked around. I find us kind of going like ‘are you doin’ okay?’. I don’t want to be the one going ‘wha wha’, really mean. They’re nervous.



Is there any thought of doing a sketch to poke fun at the season finale? Doing a season finale type sketch and working it into the next season.



Amy: You mean like ‘who shot J.R.’?



Maya: They did that in the ‘80’s. You remember that?



Amy: That’s when Charlie Rocket said the wrong word.



More about doing a sketch that would tie into the next season.



Amy: I think somebody wants a writing job.



No. Just the aspect of poking fun of every show doing a season finale.



Maya: If I had that much control over what got on the show, I’d probably get paid a lot more money.



You’ve been on seven years and you’ve been on six so are you still as excited now about doing it each week as you were when you started? How long do you think you’ll want to continue doing it?



Maya: Probably 45 more years. It’s amazing how you feel like you have nothing left. Especially if you do like a few shows in a row and Sunday you’re like ‘oh, I’ve gotta order Chinese food. I can’t move’. But somehow you manage to come in on Monday and meet the new host. You have no ideas but you just end up figuring something out because it always changes. It’s always fresh in that was and changes, literally, until the last minute. So, that part about it never goes away and that’s what’s made it so amazing and kept people going at it for so long.



Amy: And, to bring it back to Shrek, you get time to go and do other stuff which is really great; time to go and work on films and do other stuff. That schedule, as an actor, is a really nice schedule to have. You can have your job there and it’s an exciting and unique job.



When you two were little girls, what fairy tale princess or fairy tale story did you like most?



Maya: Well, it’s not fairy tale but the only princess I remember is Princess Leia. My brother was really into Star Wars and there weren’t really a lot of girls to play. I wasn’t gonna be like a wookie.



Amy: I think I related more to boys in fairy tales at the time like ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’, I really liked that story. I remember relating to Jack at the time. Sometimes the ladies in fairy tales are being rescued or they are tired or sleeping or they’re in some kind of beauty mirror where they’re trapped or whatever.



Maya: Cinderella I like because she’s an underdog.



Amy: Yeah. She was. I was always more of a little Muppets gal myself. Miss Piggy was one of the first like bossy characters. Maya’s daughter Pearl loves her.



Maya: She loves Miss Piggy but she’s in love with Kermit in this crazy way. It’s really funny and cute. I was watching recently and was like oh yeah, Miss Piggy and Kermit were marred and somebody was like ‘uh, she liked him but he didn’t go for her. They were never a couple’. And my whole life I thought they were married. What’s wrong with me?



What are each of you doing on your summer break?



Amy: I’m going to work in a film with Tina Fey called ‘Baby Mama’ that’s shooting in New York starting soon.



Maya: I’m going to be working on a film with a woman called Lena May… no, I’m going to try to go somewhere with my family and not work and spend some time with my daughter because I feel crazy. I never imagined what it would be like to do ‘Saturday Night Live’ and have an infant and it’s been incredible but I have two fulltime jobs. It’s been really gnarly.



What that part of the draw of this project, having a child.



Maya: I did this until I was pregnant with her. All of it’s been so great and that way and then she can enjoy it.



Amy: It’s really cool to be in a film that your kids can eventually watch. We watched it with her watching Maya which is really cool. We don’t do a lot of stuff for children.



Was she saying ‘that doesn’t look like you, mommy’?



Maya: She did point to the screen and say ‘momma’ but she was pointing to Fiona. [laughter] But she knew I was in there somewhere. She heard me.



How old is she?



Maya: A year and a half.



So will there be a ‘Blades of Glory 2’?



Amy: I hope so. Might was well. Minus the skating. Then they went surfing.



Maya: Boards of Glory.



There are a lot of rumors out there that they’ll do a Shrek 4.



Maya: Great. Where do I sign?



Amy: I think these ladies are really funny and we’d love to bring them back. It’s great to be part of a gang of tough broads. Sure, sign me up.



Maya: As long as I don’t piss the ladies off in the movie so they’re not still mad at Rapunzel.



Amy, how is Mighty Bee coming?



Amy: Great. It’s coming out next year. Again, animation takes forever. It’s really great. I’m really thrilled with it. It’s a real positive girl character that’s not boy-crazy or mean to other girls.



Based on the little girl character you do on Saturday Night Life?



Amy: Yes. I used to do it on Upright Citizens’ Brigade, a sketch show I used to do this kind of Brownie character, this Girl Scout. So she’s real ambitious and really spazzy. It’s like that really great age before you’re interested in boys and when you think you can be anything in the world, that great 10-year-old age. There’s no meanness in any of it.



Is Nickelodeon giving you free rein to go wild with it?



Amy: Well yeah, but it’s not sarcastic. It’s beautifully drawn, very old school on a painted background. It’s beautiful. It’s not a sarcastic, ironic cartoon. It’s a real cartoon whatever that means. A lot of Sponge Bob people are working on it so it’s like Sponge Bob. It’s funny but we want it to be sweet for lack of a better word.



Do you get a lot of say in what she looks like?



Amy: Oh yeah. I’m the producer and we’ve been working for two years on it. So, we’re really excited. She’s really cool.



Can you talk about what ‘Baby Mama’ is about?



Amy: Tina plays a professional woman who is ready to have a baby but can’t so she hired me as her surrogate and it’s like a ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ odd couple. I’m the blue collar gal that she hires to have her baby for her and I move in with her.




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