The Secret Life of Pets 2, the highly anticipated sequel to the hugely successful 2016 animated feature that first explored the emotional lives of our pets, continues to follow Terrier Max (voiced by Patton Oswalt), as he copes with some major life changes that are making him a bit nervous and anxious. On this adventure, Max and his adopted canine brother and friend Duke (voiced by Eric Stonestreet) find themselves on a farm and face-to-face with a dog named Rooster (voiced by Harrison Ford), who helps Max find his own inner courage, while cat Chloe (voiced by Lake Bell), Pomeranian Gidget (voiced by Jenny Slate), bunny Snowball (voiced by Kevin Hart), Shih Tzu Daisy (voiced by Tiffany Haddish) and Basset Hound Pops (voiced by Dana Carvey) all have their own various levels of trouble to contend with.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor Patton Oswalt talked about joining this incredibly talented cast, how exciting it is to be a part of a franchise with a built-in audience, how the film’s tone evolved, why these animal characters are so relatable, and enjoying voice work. He also talked about joining the Veronica Mars revival for Hulu, and having been a fan of the original series.
Collider: I had so much fun with this movie. I thought it was so sweet, fun and funny.
PATTON OSWALT: So much fun.
How cool is it to be a part of a movie like this, where anyone and everyone can go see it and find something to connect with?
OSWALT: Yeah, it’s really amazing to be a part of. I love doing animation, but to be in an animated movie where it’s such a huge ensemble of genuinely talented people that I’m a fan of, like Kevin [Hart], Jenny Slate, Dana Carvey and Harrison Ford, so that when I see the movie, as fun as it is to watch my scenes, I get to be really surprised by the stuff that the other voice actors were doing. That’s a rare thing, to get to be in a movie that you’re excited to go see.
At the same time, it seems like the one downside of it is the fact that you have all of these amazing people in the cast, but you don’t actually get to work with any of them.
OSWALT: I know, and that part stinks. But, it also makes me go, “Well, hopefully I’ll get to meet them at the premiere.” I’m gonna try to get a pic with Harrison Ford, and I’ll be happy.
What was it like to step in and voice the lead character of an animated sequel, when you know how successful the first film was, and that everybody not only loves the character, but loves all of the characters and their relationships?
OSWALT: It’s exciting because there’s this built-in audience. When I read the script and I saw that every character goes in a new direction that still is keyed off and logical from what you’ve seen them do before, that was really exciting. As a movie buff myself, to get to go, “Oh, the fans are gonna get to see this and they’re gonna be surprised by this,” that always feels good.
Does it also help when you know that the director also directed the first film, so that he can guide you in the right direction?
OSWALT: If the director knows the world and already really, really feels it, then yeah, that always means a lot. You know that you’re in good hands.
How was the experience of working with Chris Renaud? Especially because he also does voices for himself, did you find that he understands how to deal with voice performance, in that sense?
OSWALT: Oh, absolutely! He totally gets what you’re going for, as a voice actor, and if he needs something to be a little bit different, he knows what to say to correctly coax that out of you because he already understands what the character has gone through.
How much did the story evolve? From the first time that you did some voice recording on it, to what we see now, as the finished product, were there major changes, along the way?
OSWALT: There were some, but I’m getting into spoiler territory, if I talk about that. There were changes, but I have to avoid that because I don’t want to ruin some of the surprises.
Without specifics, did the tone always feel like how the tone is now, or did it feel like it got lighter or more serious?
OSWALT: I feel like the tone got more grown up. Obviously, there’s plenty of stuff for kids, but Max is learning, more and more, how to let go, how to embrace more of life, and how not to be so afraid of things, and it’s really interesting to see that change.
If you’re going to find your inner strength and confidence, you’d also want someone like Harrison Ford to be there to give you that boost.
OSWALT: I also think you want him there because, for the animators, getting to work with a voice that’s that rich and nuanced has gotta be a joy.