Pitt, Farrell and Hill to Co-Star in DreamWorks’ ‘MegaMind’

08.28.2009

In March 2009, I reported the following:

Robert Downey Jr., Tina Fey and Ben Stiller will be lending their voice talents to DreamWorks’ Master Mind CGI feature scheduled for 2010. IMDb.com describes the film’s plot as a “satirical take on superhero movies, in which a notorious villain loses his oomph after he accidentally kills his nemesis.”

According to both IMDb and an August 18th article on People.com, the new working title for the project (currently listed in post-production) is Oobermind Megaind and is slated for a November 2010 release. Furthermore, neither Downey nor Stiller are listed as being involved, and People states that Downey (who canceled due to schedule conflicts) has been replaced with Will Farrell as the voice of Oobermind MegaMind. Jonah Hill appears to have replaced Stiller as the voice of a reluctant new superhero named Titan, while Fey voices a news reporter named Roxanne Ritchi.

People also reports that Pitt is co-starring in something of a cameo role as the voice of superhero “Metro Man” against Farrell’s villainous Oobermind MegaMind.

I discovered the People article via The Animation Guild blog which offered some amusing and ironic commentary on a report by The LA Business Journal which seemed surprised that the announcement of the Pitt, Farrell and Hill celebrity voice casting was ineffective in helping to boost DreamWorks’ stock.

It’s something I’ve already discussed here on a few occasions, but I enjoyed TAG’s tongue-in-cheek sarcasm in their response:

Here’s the thing about big-name, celebrity voices: Sometimes they work out wonderfully well, and they are often useful in promoting a high profile animated feature.

But are they necessary? Do they add to the bottom line?

Only marginally.

Ed Asner was a fine choice for Up, but face it. Pixar didn’t choose him because he’s tabloid catnip or a marquee name like Mr. Pitt. They chose him because he was right for the role. (And Disney seems to be doing okay in the big grosses department as regards Up.)

I’m not saying using mega stars is necessarily a bad way to go, but [Pitt] didn’t provide a lot of added value the last time he performed a voice role for DreamWorks Animation. This time, I’m sure, will be different.

Update: 2.11.2010 — On Jan. 15th, Movieweb reported on DreamWorks’ 2010 film presentation which mentions that the new title for the film is MegaMind, that David Cross will voice MegaMind’s assistant, and that Ben Stiller is producing. Movieweb also describes the action of the 10-minute preview and interviews Jonah Hill about his character.

Related post: 7.07.2009 — Trend Changing in Celebrity Voice Casting?


‘Battle for Terra’ Director Talks Voice Cast

04.30.2009

Sanluisobispo.com interviews Aristomenis Tsirbas, director of the 3D animated sci-fi/action-adventure feature film Battle for Terra. Here’s an excerpt with him discussing the voice cast:

I always wanted Brian Cox because he is such a tremendous voice actor. We wanted Evan Rachel Wood because I am a fan of her acting. Also she plays from the heart and we thought she would be appropriate for Mala. To our amazement, Brian Cox was the first person to show interest in the story. He signed onboard early. When that happened, a buzz started going around the acting community and other actors started to read the script. We got lucky because the people we really wanted responded positively to the script.

Battle for Terra opens in theaters Friday, May 1st, and features a tremendous voice cast that includes Chad Allen, Rosanna Arquette, Brian Cox, David Cross, Beverly D’Angelo, Jim Devoti, James Garner, Danny Glover, Mark Hamill, Phil LaMarr, Justin Long, Laraine Newman, Amanda Peet, Ron Perlman, Dennis Quaid, Danny Trejo, Luke Wilson, and Evan Rachel Wood. (And that’s not even the complete cast list!)


Happy Birthday, Billy West!

04.16.2009

Wishing a very happy birthday to voice actor/musician Billy West, born today in 1950.

If you watch cartoons at all, chances are you’ve heard Billy on one or most of them. He’s performed in many of TV’s most popular cartoons since the early 90’s when he landed his first lead roles as the title characters on Doug (when it was produced by Nickelodeon) and Ren and Stimpy. In recent years, he’s become famous with Futurama fans for voicing most of the primary cast of characters: Philip J. Fry, Prof. Hubert J. Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg, Zapp Brannigan, and President Richard Nixon’s Head.

Billy is also the creator of Billy Bastard, a “semi-autobiographical” adult comedy live-action/puppetry show he’s been developing since 2005 with former Ren and Stimpy animators Jim Gomez and Bill Wray. Originally produced as a TV show pilot, Billy said in a July 2008 interview with SCI FI Wire that he was attempting to turn it into a feature film: “We had a few false starts with big-name producers interested and working on it and then dropping out, and now we have a guy who gets it and wants to see it made into a feature film, so we’re working on the script for that right now.”

The official trailer from the Billy Bastard pilot is available on YouTube.com (narrated by Jim Cummings), although I must caution in advance that it contains strong adult language.

Billy also has a supporting role in the indie comedy Demoted, starring Michael Vartan, Sean Astin, David Cross, and comedian Ron White. The film does not yet have a release date although Billy said in a February 2009 interview with CosmicBookNews.com that it was “coming out soon.” When asked if being on camera was a “new venture” for him, Billy replied, “You know, I never wanted to be in movies and to tell the truth there’s nothing about me that said ‘You gotta get into movies!’ I was really hesitant to do it and I have done a couple of other things on camera in the past. But I had to audition for this and I got it and I had a couple of parts with David Cross and Sean Astin in it. They were funny and sharp as they come.”

For further reading on Billy’s background and career, check out these interviews on MLive.com, Movieweb.com, ArravistePress.com, CNBC’s The Big Idea (via YouTube.com), SCIFI TV Australia, ShavedNeck.com (radio interview), and Hippojuice.com (audio interview).

And naturally, you’ll want to visit Billy’s official site: BillyWest.com.