Opening this weekend is Sony’s Angry Birds, the animated adaptation of the smash-hit mobile game that brings the title characters to life in a bold adventure on the big screen. Directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly held the reins of this family-friendly comedy, but when it came to adding personality and range to the characters themselves, a voice cast of veteran multi-hyphenate actors, comedians, and improv artists stepped in.
It was along the sunny shores of Maui, just across the sapphire waters of the Pacific from the dormant Haleakala volcano, that we chatted with Angry Birds stars Jason Sudeikis, Maya Rudolph, and Josh Gad about their filming experience and their expectations for the finished cut. We’ll have more from both Rudolph and Gad later in the week, but this first roundtable interview features the entire core cast. Fair warning: they’re very, very funny.
You’d think that a cinematic experience as silly and fun as Angry Birds would lead to similarly toned questions. However, things quickly got serious when the actors were asked which political candidate for President of the United States their characters would vote into office. Sudeikis came out in bold support of:
JASON SUDEIKIS: Birdie Sanders.
Okay, so it wasn’t that serious. But still, politics is always a touchy subject. Even in this tropical setting, where we were in arm’s reach of mai tais and surrounded by palm trees and sandy beaches, it’s a topic of conversation that could easily make someone angry.
JOSH GAD: The political season does make me angry. It’s become so divisive … but who would my bird vote for? Marco Rubio, just because my bird loves him. He genuinely loves Marco Rubio. He loves Spanish-speaking congressmen.
SUDEIKIS: He loves a fast-talker.
GAD: He loves a fast-talker. Nobody talks as fast as Rubio; that’s well-known.
SUDEIKIS: That’s why he gets dry mouth. It’s all that wind whippin’ through there.
It would actually make some sense for Gad’s character Chuck, a fast-talker himself, to find a kindred spirit in Rubio. Rudolph’s bird Matilda has other motives entirely:
MAYA RUDOLPH: My bird loves Ted Cruz’s face.
SUDEIKIS: That’s a face only Matilda could love.
Other things that make the cast members angry include overly complicated toy packaging for Rudolph, who suffers through Christmas mornings trying not to injure herself opening her children’s toys, and, for Sudeikis, a general lack of manners from people today.
Something that doesn’t make them angry is the idea of returning for a possible sequel, perhaps inspired by one of the video game’s successful spin-off franchises, like Angry Birds Star Wars. The cast gave their suggestions for future expansions that should be included:
RUDOLPH: RuPaul’s Drag Race.
I love that Angry Birds game!
RUDOLPH: It’s really good, yeah.
SUDEIKIS: That would be a good one.
RUDOLPH: Project Runway?
GAD: That’s a lot of reality television.
Angry Birds of Atlanta?
ALL: Angry Birds of Atlanta!
GAD: Actually, that’s a great idea for a sequel.
SUDEIKIS: You go into a booth.
GAD: They give you headshots of the other people.
RUDOLPH: It’s lonely. They gave me a Jason Sudeikis pillow to hold.
GAD: What’d they give you of mine?
RUDOLPH: You don’t want to know.
While they’ve all worked together in some capacity throughout their careers, Sudeikis himself has worked with a majority of the cast; he also called out particularly fun vocal performances from Bill Hader and Peter Dinklage. Some fans may find themselves wondering where cast member Sean Penn comes into play. Gad took some liberties with the truth in his response:
GAD: A lot of people don’t know this, but the person reading all the lines off-stage is Sean Penn, at all times.
RUDOLPH: He’s there for everyone’s off-camera.
GAD: He’s incredibly collaborative.
SUDEIKIS: And he can do incredible impressions of each of us.
Which line was his within the movies?
SUDEIKIS: It was the grunts.
He’s so method.
SUDEIKIS: Yeah. He disappears into every role he’s in. Who knew?
Penn was a late addition, but his role as Terrence is certainly a fun one. As Gad explained, Penn was hired for what sounds like an exhausting marathon performance:
GAD: He does it live for every viewing of the movie. He’ll just sit in the back of a theater with a microphone like an old-timey piano player.
As far as outtakes or deleted scenes, there’s always something that’s recorded that doesn’t make it into the final cut:
RUDOLPH: Because you’re improvising at a certain point, not for every single scene, but here and there…
SUDEIKIS: Especially early on, because you go on runs with certain things that are almost in a template…
GAD: They’ll change the story.
SUDEIKIS: A little bit, or something like they’ll have you come back five months later and say, “Here’s what you did,” and they’ll play you a version of it and you launch back into it.
GAD: A lot of times you’ll go in and you won’t go back for over half a year, so you really don’t remember what it was that you did.
RUDOLPH: That happened to me once on a movie where I was pregnant when I recorded it, and when I went back to follow-up record, my voice was so much higher. My voice was so low when I was pregnant that I sounded a little bit like a dude. It was really hard to match it.
Sudeikis took his young son to see Angry Birds as his first movie, and he quickly connected the character of Red to his dad’s voice. He was just as impressed by that as he was by the huge mascots walking around Maui, an effect shared by all the kids who saw them. With their kids in mind, the cast talked about movies that walk the line between family-friendly humor and bringing in something for adults to enjoy, movies like Grease, Back to the Future, Johnny Dangerously, and, of course, Angry Birds.
Make no mistake, the humor in this movie is aimed squarely at kids. But there are moments sprinkled throughout that will sail right over their little heads and hopefully land for the parents in the audience. Sudeikis even compares the conversation between his character and Rudolph’s therapist Matilda to the relationship between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, so there are lots of little cultural Easter eggs to find hidden among the colorful, candy-coated world of Angry Birds.
Be sure to come back later this week for one-on-one interview with Rudolph and Gad, and take a look at some of our recent coverage for more on Angry Birds:
- ‘The Angry Birds Movie': Fergal Reilly & Clay Kaytis on Transitioning from Animators to Directors
- ‘Angry Birds': New Trailer Finds Jason Sudeikis’ Red Gathering His Feathered Friends
- ‘Angry Birds': How the Cast Tapped into Their Inner Anger for the Animated Comedy
- ‘Angry Birds': New Trailer Reminds You That Your Mobile Gaming Addiction Is Now a Feature Film
- Watch Our Countdown of the Most Anticipated Sony Movies of 2016