The hugely successful Hotel Transylvania films blend lovable monsters, humor and heart in a way that’s appealing to audiences of all ages, and you can now get Hotel Transylvania 2 on Blu-ray/DVD, featuring a variety of extras. In the sequel, directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, Drac (voiced by Adam Sandler) puts Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez) and Johnny’s (voiced by Andy Samberg) son Dennis through “monster-in-training” boot camp to bring out his vampire side, all while the very old school Vlad (voiced by Mel Brooks) pays the family a visit to the hotel, resulting in all sorts of monster mayhem.
During this exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor and funnyman Andy Samberg talked about why he’s so enjoyed being a part of the Hotel Transylvania films, how Sandler got him involved, how much his character has evolved, and why he hopes there will be a Hotel Transylvania 3. He also talked about what a great time he’s had making the Fox comedy series Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the love they’ve received from viewers and critics, and just how much improvisation they actually do, as well as his hope that they’ll be giving people a first glimpse of Conner4Real, directed by Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, and just how crazy and funny it is really soon.
Collider: These movies are so fun and so cute. What was it that originally attracted you to Hotel Transylvania, and what have you enjoyed about getting to know this animated character over two movies?
ANDY SAMBERG: Well, the story of how I first came on to Hotel Transylvania is that I was working on That’s My Boy with [Adam] Sandler, and I was in my trailer. He called me during lunch of my cell phone and he said, “Hey, man, we’re doing an animated movie called Hotel Transylvania, and I’m Dracula and I run a hotel for monsters. There’s a human guy in it, and you’re going to be the human guy. Okay?” I said, “Yes, sounds good!” And that was it. And then, it just turned out that it was fantastic and I was really happy, but I was going to do it, either way. I love these movies. They’re so silly, and my bread and butter is silliness. The character is great. Robert Smigel helps write them with Sandler, and they’re such funny people who genuinely love comedy and make sure there’s a lot of silliness happening in it. And Genndy [Tartakovsky] is so good at directing and so wonderful with animation. I was a huge fan of Samurai Jack, so when I heard that he was doing it, I was extra stoked.
Is this the most you’ve ever grown with a character, going from young love to marriage to parenthood?
SAMBERG: Yeah. It’s interesting, they don’t really address it, but in a lot of ways, Jonathan’s backpack is getting pushed out by the kid. There could have been a whole movie just about that dynamic, with how the backpack felt left out and how he had to come to terms with letting the backpack go to take care of his son. But it ended up being more about the actual family, which I think, in retrospect, was a good call.
From what you were first pitched to the finished product, how much has this character and story evolved? Is it very different from what you were originally told it would be, or is it not too far off?
SAMBERG: The characters of Mavis and Johnny have changed the most, over the course of the two. One of the things that I love about the second one, that I think was such a brilliant call on their part, was how fast everything moves in the first act. So much happens and so much changes, and it wastes none of your time, which is really cool. It’s one of the beautiful things about animated. You just can now draw them a little older, and draw that they have a baby. Whatever you need, you can just make it so. The passage of time is handled really beautifully, I think. It was cool. It was nice to see those characters in a more adult role, being caring parents, but also seeing that they were young parents who were fun and silly with their son. I just love the family dynamic of the whole movie.
Have you had any conversations about a possible Hotel Transylvania 3 and how things could further evolve?
SAMBERG: I haven’t. I assume there’s going to be one. Just purely from a cynical point of view, they’d be leaving so much money on the table, if they didn’t make a third one. From a creative, loving perspective, I think people just really liked it. I have so many people that come up to me and go, “My kid has watched Hotel Transylvania 2 five times, and we keep watching it, over and over again. We watch it at home and we watch it in the car, and we watched it in the theater.” It feels like there’s a lot of real love and good will surrounding the movies. It’s the reason you make ‘em. So, I genuinely hope there is another one because it seems like people really like ‘em.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is such a great and funny show. When did you realize that it was really resonating with audiences and critics, and that people were loving it?
SAMBERG: That’s a good question. Critically, we have been super lucky. That’s something that me, Dan Goor and Michael Schur, right out of the gate, breathed a huge sigh of relief about. You can tell on social media, if you poke around, and people would tell me a lot that people were tweeting a lot about the show or that there was a faction of teenagers that were ‘shipping Jake and Amy. But just for me, when I go out in the world or I’m at the airport, people stop me and go, “Hey, man, I really love your show,” or “We watch it as a family,” or “Me and my wife watch it.” It’s like with the movie. People will tell me, “Oh, my kid watches your show on their iPad, over and over again until they memorize.” And I’m like, “Wow, I was that kid watching other shows. That’s the coolest!” So, I think the audience we have is an audience that really digs it. We have a similar vibe for people that were into Parks and Rec and 30 Rock, and those kinds of shows. I’m also really happy that so many people tell me that their kids watch it. I think that’s really cool.
You guys have such an easy chemistry, as a cast. How much of the humor is actually scripted and how much do you guys find in the moment?
SAMBERG: A lot of it is scripted. Our writers are really good. A lot of things that seem naturalistic are written that way. As the cast has blossomed and the writers have gotten to know all of us more, they’ve understood who we are and what our strengths are more and they’re writing towards that now, which is really fun. Also, just being in your third season, there are rules set up for every character now, so you can choose to break them or stick to them to whatever degree you think is interesting or funny, in that moment. It allows a lot of freedom from the writing perspective, in that way. It’s been really fun this year. But, I’ll definitely add stuff on set. Chelsea [Peretti] will definitely add stuff on set. Everyone, at one point or another, has pitched out something. We don’t do a ton of takes where it’s like, “Okay, just roll and see what happens,” but we’ll come up with alts on set and try them, and we’ll try different versions of things.
When might we get to see a first look of Conner4Real, and what can people expect from the film?
SAMBERG: We are in the editing process and it’s going really good. Akiva [Schaffer] and Jorma [Taccone] are so psyched. It’s getting pretty juicy. There’s a lot of really crazy, funny shit in it, and we’re happy. There are a lot of people in it, and it will be fun for that reason, too. I don’t know when we’re going to get the first look. I’m hoping really soon. We’ve gotta get together with Universal PR and talk about all of that really, really soon. I think they were waiting for the New Year, so I’m hoping that will be any day now. We leave that to them. We’re just editing furiously and trying to make the movie as good as we possibly can before we lock it.
It must be so much fun to work with your friends, in that capacity. Is it ever difficult to remember that you’re actually working?
SAMBERG: Sometimes it is difficult to remember, but other times it is very easy to remember. Sleep deprivation is the killer.
Hotel Transylvania 2 is now available on Blu-ray/DVD.