In the comedy adventure sequel Despicable Me 2 opening July 3rd, Miranda Cosgrove reprises the role of Margo, the eldest of the three orphans adopted by Gru (Steve Carell), the world’s greatest super-villain, who has given up his despicable ways and is on a quest to become the perfect dad. Cosgrove brings a sense of personality and edge to her delightful character that’s now a little older. She remains the backbone of the family, looking out for her sisters and keeping the family together, but she’s also growing up, is preoccupied with texting, and is starting to notice boys her age, which drives Gru crazy.
At the film’s recent press day, Cosgrove talked about what it was like returning to work in the world of animation and voicing her character again, how she feels now that her iCarly series has ended, why she enjoys hanging out with Carell who’s one of her favorite actors and fellow comic performers, how she met Moises Arias who plays her boyfriend in the movie, what she loves about the Minions, how she’s handling her enormous success and all the choices that have come with it, and the status of her new TV series, Girlfriend in a Coma. Hit the jump to read the interview:
Question: Was it easy to fall back into the voice of your character?
Miranda Cosgrove: It was pretty easy. I didn’t know much about animation when I started with the first movie. But this time, it’s a lot of the same characters and some cool new characters too, and I was working with the same directors and everybody on the team, so it was a lot like the first movie. It was maybe even a little easier even because I know everyone way better now, so I could improv more and have more fun with it.
Were you pleased that Margo got a boyfriend in this? Did it remind you of your own dating experiences when you were a young teen?
Cosgrove: I definitely thought about being in fifth grade and the first time I ever liked somebody, and just the way I felt and how I could barely even string a sentence together. It was fun getting to be Margo and be a little bit older. She’s not as protective of her little sisters because now she trusts Gru a lot more. You can tell they’re more of a family.
Were you recording this while you were still doing your TV series? Did you do it concurrently or did you do it during a break?
Cosgrove: I would just go in and record, sometimes on the weekends or on days that I had off from the show. And then, I went in a few times even after we finished the series. I just saw it for the first time in Australia.
How do you feel now that the iCarly series is over? Do you feel like you closed a chapter in your life and you’re onto the next chapter?
Cosgrove: I do feel that way in a lot of ways because I grew up making that show. I’d hang out with the cast, which was a pretty small cast, every day for almost six years. I definitely miss it in some ways, but in a lot of ways I’m excited that the people that liked that show can see this. It’s something new and fun that the families that watched iCarly will enjoy.
You’re at such an interesting juncture in life. You’re doing projects like this, you’re in college, and all kinds of different paths have opened up for you. How is it for you to have all these choices and then to figure out which ones you really want to chase after?
Cosgrove: In a lot of ways, I feel like a lot of my friends, because they’re all in college and trying to figure out what to major in and what they want to do. I definitely want to act, but at the same time, I feel like college is awesome, because I’m learning about a lot of things that I never tried before. I even took an art class that was fun. I feel lucky that I can do a lot of different things because I like doing a lot of different types of things. And even with voiceover acting, it’s so different from being on a TV show or in a movie, so it’s really cool to get to try something like this.
Is anything threatening to pull you away from acting? Is there a path that seems to be really exciting right now?
Cosgrove: Even with college, the reason I wanted to go so badly is because I wanted to major in film. I want to take screenwriting classes and learn more about behind the scenes stuff, because I love people like Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig who are able to write a lot of their own material and be so involved in everything they do. That’s why I wanted to go.
You obviously had a big fan base before this movie. I’m curious how the character changed your fandom?
Cosgrove: It’s funny because a lot of little kids have thought in the past that I was Carly from iCarly. Younger kids think that the characters are real, and I feel like it’s similar with animation. When Steve and I were in Australia, a lot of the younger kids were really shocked that there were people behind the animated characters. When Steve did the Gru voice for all of them, their minds were blown. It’s just funny to see how kids totally think things are real.
Did you get to work in the booth with anybody at all or was everything by yourself? Did you work with Moises Arias who plays Antonio or talk with him about the role?
Cosgrove: It’s funny because my friend is good friends with him, and I never met him while we were doing the movie, but recently I went over to the house of my friend who knows him to play games, and he was there. He was like, “I’m the suave cool guy.” I was like, “No way. That’s awesome. I had no idea.” So it’s pretty cool. I know him now, and I’m sure he’s going to be at the premiere. We did all of our stuff individually. I always thought when I started with the first movie that everyone was going to be in the room together, but it’s so different.
I see a lot of you in your character. Did they record your face while you were in the booth? How did it work?
Cosgrove: I know there are different kinds of animation, like some where you actually see the character while you do lines. With this, they film you the entire time you’re in the booth. And then, they take your facial expressions and hand movements, and the animators put it into the characters.
When you go back and watch it, can you see yourself? Or when your parents or your friends watch it, can they see you in your animated character?
Cosgrove: Yes, definitely. Even with Kristen Wiig’s character a lot, I felt like I could see her little body movements and things she does on SNL. Even though the character doesn’t look that much like her, I felt like she came through in the facial expressions. And there are moments in the movie where I saw Margo and I thought, “Oh my God, I definitely do that.”
When you’re voice acting and you’re in a scene with Gru, for example, do you think of the character, Gru, or the actor, Steve Carell?
Cosgrove: When I was doing the lines, I thought of Gru. It was easier in this movie, because in the first one, I didn’t know about the crazy voice that Steve was going to do for Gru. But then, in this movie, when I went in and recorded, I already had it in my mind. I knew what he was going to do. That was helpful knowing about all the characters, besides Kristen Wiig’s character. I saw her parts for the first time when I saw the movie in Australia.
The Minions were the break out stars of the first movie. Were you surprised and did you fall in love with them in the same way the public seems to have?
Cosgrove: I definitely loved the Minions. They’re really cute. I’ve also been around a lot of Minions in real life, like people dressed in the Minion outfits in the last few weeks. They were in Australia. They dance a lot. I just saw one today. It was really funny. I pressed the elevator button, and when the elevator opened, one was sitting in there and I got in next to it.
After coming off of your TV show where you spent so much time with the same people working on a show, is it kind of a bummer when you do something like this and you don’t get to spend that time with the cast and the crew?
Cosgrove: It’s cool because now I know Steve pretty well from doing publicity for the first movie, and just seeing him going in and out of recording, and then being in Australia and getting to hang out with him, I definitely know him the best of everybody in the cast. But I mean it was a little bit [of a bummer], because the movie has so many cool comedians. When I started with the first one, I thought it was going to be so awesome being with all those people acting. And then, I was in this little tiny room doing it alone. It’s cool that I got to know Steve pretty well because he’s really nice and he’s really funny.
One of my favorite things is the guacamole hat with the chips.
Cosgrove: Me too. I want one of those.
Have you ever had one of those in real life?
Cosgrove: I hope that they make them now after the movie or that they have them at parties. I feel like anybody could get over a break-up if they had one of those on. Just wear it.
Margo is really getting into texting and doing what we all do and young people especially. Do you text as much as she does in the movie? Or do you try to pay attention to the person you’re with rather than texting?
Cosgrove: I do text a lot. Sometimes, at night, my thumbs hurt because I’ve texted so much, so I definitely text too much. I try harder now to pay attention to my mom when she’s talking to me, because I’ve learned how to answer what she’s saying without actually listening. Then later, something will happen, and I won’t even remember saying okay. I try harder now to pay attention to what’s going on.
What’s the status of your new TV series, Girlfriend in a Coma? Have you shot it or have you just been cast at this point?
Cosgrove: No, we haven’t shot the pilot or anything yet. I’m just waiting to find out.
Have you met with Christina Ricci and the writers?
Cosgrove: Yes, when we did the original table read.
What attracted you to it?
Cosgrove: It’s cool because it’s like a dark comedy, and it’s different from anything I’ve done before. I really liked that about it.