Last weekend I got a wonderful treat, a chance to walk the red carpet for the Epic Premiere (which opens today!), seeing the movie and a sit down discussion with the director, Chris Wedge (ICE AGE), and cast members, Colin Farrell, Amanda Seyfried, Chris O’ Down and Aziz Ansari. Go here to read part 1 of this two part series.
Our first Q & A session was with Chris Wedge, Colin Farrell and Amanda Seyfried. It was amazing to hear from Chris Wedge, who directed and produced the movie, along with Blue Sky Studios (he’s part owner).
Chris Wedge discussed how the movie came about during our Q & A, “We just started dreaming up an idea for a movie. It was this place, it was the woods that we started thinking about. And Bill [William Joyce, who is a good friend] had just finished that book, The Leaf Men. So, we took that notion that there are leaf men out there and put it in our movie, but that’s all we took from the book. The book’s a very charming, beautifully illustrated by him, painted like a bed time story kind of book. But, I just loved that idea that those guardians were out there. And that’s really all we took from the book. The rest, we conjured up the basic idea of this movie together. And then, eight years later with a lot more collaborators and writing and designing, we came up with the idea for this movie.”
Wedge discussed the themes in Epic, “The themes were more about connections between people and finding things that we don’t realize are there, because I think that it’s emotionally satisfying to discover that someone’s been thinking about you, or somebody helped behind the scenes, or when you’re in trouble, somebody comes through that you didn’t expect to hear from. When I walk into the forest, the one thing that I sense, if you just stand there for a second, you feel this kind of magical presence. I was just trying to express that in a fantasy. You feel the silence, you feel the strength, you see the leaf growing, the birds flitting around. And, if there’s a message, it’s just that, check it out, respect it, maybe spend some time out there. But, the real thing about destroying the forest and trying to save it is what’s just happening in there. If you go walk in the woods you’ll see evidence that this battle is going on. There are rotten trees that succumb to a Boggin attack, and over here where stuff’s growing, and that’s where the leaf men fought them back. We made it up.”
Since this was an animated film, the actors don’t interact like a live action production. Most of the time, the cast didn’t even meet. When Amanda Seyfried and Colin Farrell told us that they didn’t interact, but voiced their parts separately, they were recorded separately — director Chris Wedge would act out the other roles to keep the pacing going. Colin Farrell and Amanda Seyfried were very nice (even if they aren’t big users of social media). Seyfried said it took her a while to see the value, “I kind of like it now because when I have an opinion about something that I share with a lot of people, I feel like I can make like a tiny, tiny little difference to my small amount of followers, and feels good.” She had 100,000 followers, so I think people care what she thinks.
In the 2nd Q & A, we spoke to Aziz Ansari and Chris O’ Dowd. Aziz played Mub, a slug and self characterized “ladies’ man” and Chris O’Dowd plays Grub, a snail and wannabe Leafman. In the movie, Mub and Grub have an important job, they are charged with taking care of the pods that Queen Tara (Beyonce Knowles) chooses her heir from. Once the pod is chosen, they keep it safe for her. Mub flirts with the Amanda Seyfried’s character, M.K., who is a human, shamelessly.
When asked by our group if they did research on their roles, Chris O’ Dowd said, “I had a slug farm, so like I felt like I was already one step ahead, yes like an ant farm.”
Aziz Ansari told us with a straight face, “Me and Chris went to the woods with a magnifying glass and followed a snail and slug around for a couple of months.”
O’Dowd chimed in with, “ It did not end well, obviously. It was a sunny day. One thing led to another. Yes, it was really sad. It was sad, but worth it.” O’Dowd and Ansari both had this wonderful deadpan delivery that had the room in stitches.
Unlike Amanda Seyfried and Colin Farrell, Chris O’Dowd and Aziz Ansari actually did the first long audio session together, and then they recorded the rest of their parts separately.
It was really interesting to get an insight into Epic’s production and I hope I can see Chris O’Dowd and Aziz Ansari work together again. I really enjoyed Colin Farrell (yes, that is me next to him in the photo and his arm is around me), Amanda Seyfried (who was so petite and pretty), and director Chris Wedge.
Epic opened this past Friday and I highly recommend taking children over 6 to see it.
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Thank you to 20th Century Fox for inviting us to the screening and the Q & A Session.