Based on the popular Chinese graphic novel “Tibetan Rock Dog”, written and illustrated by Zheng Jun (renowned as one of China’s first and most popular rock stars), the animated movie Rock Dog follows a Tibetan Mastiff named Bodi (voiced by Luke Wilson) on his journey to becoming a rock ‘n’ roll star. To succeed, he must leave his home on Snow Mountain, defy his father’s wishes, and head to the city to find the legendary but reclusive musician Angus Scattergood (voiced by Eddie Izzard), who is not exactly in the mood to help anyone do anything, let alone a young dog looking to fulfill his dreams.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor/comedian Eddie Izzard talked about what convinced him to sign on for Rock Dog, the highly collaborative experience he had with director Ash Brannon, getting to do an ad-libbing voice session with co-star Luke Wilson, that Angus is an amalgam of every rock ‘n’ roll person he’d ever heard of or met, and why creative people have to never stop evolving. He also talked about writing his first dramatic feature film, Six Minutes to Midnight, why it’s a subject that he’s so passionate about, and how he hopes to get it into production this year.
Collider: Angus Scattergood is an interesting character because he has much more adult dialogue and speech than we would expect from an animated feature. Were you able to have free reign with finding who this guy is?
EDDIE IZZARD: That’s interesting. That is a good point. I don’t know how to do kid’s dialogue, and I don’t think I would do it. I think it’s more fun when it sounds adult, but the kids can get a handle on it, so that the older people watching it can go, “I like this, too!”
How was your experience collaborating with Ash Brannon, as a director?
IZZARD: I really wasn’t sure, at the beginning, if I should do this. The character of the fading rock star is a bit been there before. The greatest thing that Ash Brannon did with me was allow me to try things and test it out and see where we could get to. I just went into this place where I liked him. He let me go wherever I felt, in the moment. And I was doing that with Luke [Wilson]. Me and Luke got together in Dallas and we did a session together, so we were ad-libbing. The idea of swearing, and then putting a car over it, really worked and was very real. A lot of that chase afterwards was ad-libbed, as well. Ash just let us go, which was a great thing. If you’re locked down and locked into the script, it’s less compelling. I just like doing it, if they’ll let me go.
Were you and the director always on the same page about this being a much more collaborative process than is typical for animated movies?
IZZARD: I think so. It started from the fact that it was slightly outside the box. He wanted to try different things to see where it would go. As long as you keep in the direction of the script and you know where you’re going in the scene, you can muck about, and I find the mucking about so much fun. All this weird stuff comes out, and if they don’t like it, they can cut it.
Who is Angus Scattergood to you? Did you see him as similar to any one or a combination of rockers, or did you see him as very much his own being?
IZZARD: I saw him as an amalgam of everything. I thought of every rock ‘n’ roll person I’d ever heard of or met, and comedian, and solo performance artist, with this idea that you have this living based on your imagination, but your imagination isn’t doing anything. So, I was channeling all of that. It wasn’t anyone specific. That’s how it came out. I channeled everything, and that’s what came out.