Of all the stars I was able to interview as part of the press event I attended for Universal’s The Lorax movie earlier this month, Danny DeVito was the most familiar to me. I didn’t expect too many surprises, having watched him from Taxi to Hercules, and currently to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
DeVito is perfectly cast as the title character of the movie and even arrived for his interview with the parenting bloggers ready with an “I speak for the trees” line. During an engaging interview, conducted as he was still coming off the high of attending the SuperBowl and seeing his New York Giants win, I found I wasn’t nearly as familiar with his career and his off-screen activities as I thought I was. Here are five things I discovered:
1. He’s a big Twitter user. I found this out when I looked up all the stars of the movie on Twitter and discovered, to my surprise, that he tweets far more often than anyone else in the movie, including his younger co-stars, Taylor Swift and Zac Efron. Even more, he has a schtick for his tweet. He takes a photo of his “troll foot” (an It’s Sunny in Philadelphia reference) at famous locations. He even showed us a photo of his troll foot at the Superbowl on his smart phone.
2. He once had an EV-1 electric car that his wife, Rhea Pearlman, purchased for him, loved it and was sad to give it back. (The full story of the EV-1 is told in a wonderful documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car.) He now drives a Nissan Leaf.
3. He never associated himself with the Lorax character before but he did associate with Matilda‘s Mr. Wormwood. (According to the writers in a separate interview, they once envisioned Walter Matthau as the Lorax.)
4. He did voice work for My Little Pony.
“The first thing I did was, because of my kids, I did My Little Pony. I played the king or somebody like that in the first My Little Pony. In fact, somebody heard that I did the My Little Pony and I tweet a lot, so they tweeted me, you were the voice of the pony. I said, no, I wasn’t the voice of the pony.”
5. He recorded his voice for The Lorax in four different languages for the movie: Italian, Spanish, German and Russian. Russian was the hardest.
We had the picture in English with my voice. And what I wanted to do was make sure I got the performance big time, and also, they were there to police the pronunciation so that the inflections were right.
So, I did Spanish twice because one of them, you speak with it. They don’t even say Thneed. They say something else because Thneed, it would be some word you probably don’t want to say. And then, the Italian was really fun.And the German turned out to be one of the most challenging right away.
Imagine you’re climbing Mt. Everest, right, and you’re at this certain place where it’s a flat spot and you can still see the peak up there. That was Russian. I said, are you crazy? And it was some points in time where I did the dubbing stage for days and you get up to go get a coffee or a tea or a something and ask yourself, “What do you do?”
But they’re going to appreciate it. And it wound up sounding really good. I’ve heard a lot of it. I play it back a lot. I’m very, I don’t know what you call it – I guess a perfectionist. But, you really want to make sure you’re doing it.
One thing DeVito as the Lorax has already done is get my kids interested in going to the movie, even though they originally said it was a “kid’s movie.” The twins are twelve and sensitive to that but once they saw the trailer, they thought it looked “very cool.”
There’s a review of the movie already up at GeekMom from an advance screening — the movie opens nationwide on March 2 — highly recommending it. Amy Kraft had this to say about DeVito as the Lorax:
Danny DeVito as the Lorax is such brilliant casting. He’s as good as you expect him to be, though a little bit of Frank from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia slips through at the Lorax’s most crotchety moments (which is hilarious if you’re a Sunny fan).