CS Interview: Josh Gad Talks Voicing Chuck in The Angry Birds Movie
If you own a mobile device, you’ve probably played some iteration of Angry Birds, shooting different avian creatures at green pigs. The insanely popular game is now a film, and stars the voice talents of Jason Sudeikis (Red), Maya Rudolph (Matilda), Peter Dinklage (Mighty Eagle), Danny McBride (Bomb) and Josh Gad, who plays the super speedy bird Chuck. The gang has to band together to save their land from the pig invasion. Chuck is hanging in anger management class with Matilda and Bomb when Red enters their lives. Chuck has a bit of a speed demon issue, but he uses it to good advantage when push comes to shove. We caught up with Gad at the Angry Birds press day in Maui, Hawaii where he told us about voicing Chuck, playing video games and working on the film. Check out what he had to say below!
ComingSoon.net: So Chuck is everyone’s favorite Angry Bird after seeing the film. Did you know this?
Josh Gad: I didn’t know this!
CS: Yup! Everyone has been saying, “Chuck’s my favorite,” all day.
Josh Gad: Aw, that’s so sweet!
CS: So, tell us about your approach to Chuck.
Josh Gad: Well, I set out to make him everybody’s favorite. I studied birds…
CS: You did not study birds!
Josh Gad: [laughs] I did not study birds. What if I had? What if I went to an aviary for months and just lived among the birds? [laughs] No, my approach was—originally I wasn’t keen on doing another animated movie, especially so close to “Frozen.” I felt like, been there, done that and I didn’t want to confuse my audience, which was kids. And John [Cohen], the producer, he pitched me the movie and specifically the character and there was something so unfiltered, fast and furious about this little guy named Chuck that I immediately fell in love with. I was like, oh my god, this guy is—he’s just—it’s like mouth can’t keep up with his thoughts and his body goes faster than both of those things. I just love the idea of this speed demon who almost speaks in stream-of-consciousness. And that, for me, was a very compelling thing. To be honest, I had a friend growing up, one of my best friends, this kid David who we used to call motor mouth because he spoke so fast. This is my tribute to him.
CS: We all know somebody like that.
Josh Gad: Oh yeah, just somebody who is a constant, never-ending motor.
CS: He’s super fast and he does sort of a Quicksilver thing.
Josh Gad: Yeah, it’s cool! You know, what I love about the movie is, each of the birds is distinct, unique. And seeing the various shades of anger is really fun and compelling. That’s what’s so fun about the movie. They put together this ridiculous cast. You’ve got Danny McBride, Kate McKinnon, Maya Rudolph. You’ve got Sean Penn in there, Peter Dinklage. And you know, there’s this element to it that just allows every person to just kill and shine. Especially with a game like this that everyone brings their familiar baggage to. It’s amazing because you’re finally seeing the origin of how each of these characters learned to use their anger to attack the pigs. And how each one of their anger manifests into a slingshot. Into a bomb. Into a speed demon like Chuck. I think that element is what’s so fun about the film and not just for Chuck, but for all of them.
CS: In most animated films, you don’t get to record together. I’m assuming that’s the case here as well?
Josh Gad: No, we didn’t. It’s a bummer. Even on “Frozen.” I never had a session with any of the characters, with any of the actors. So the most time you get to spend with your co-stars, is events like this where you just chill. You’re like, “By the way, you’re really good in the film. I like you as that red bird.” Sadly, no. We didn’t get to play. But the directors are so great because they’ll feed you the other lines and just let you discover. And that’s what so fun about animation. The sky’s the limit. It’s just what you’re vocally capable of putting out there.
CS: I’m sure they let you improv, but does that ever get weird? You’ve got all of the other actors also doing improv—do they ever grab a storyline or something you come up with and say, okay, we’re changing everything else for this?
Josh Gad: It will happen occasionally. I mean, usually you’ll improv within the context of a scene because you don’t want to derail that. But it will start with an idea. And then that idea will sort of avalanche into some different thoughts. Especially with improv, it usually comes down to comedic tangents. So they’ll let you tangent within the context of the scene, but I don’t know if I’ve ever improved anything that’s changed the entire story development. Maybe. I can’t remember if I have or haven’t, but that would be quite a feat.
CS: Was the singing improved or was that…
Josh Gad: So, the singing was their idea, but within, again, once they gave me the springboard to sing, it became its own thing. Give me a little and I’ll take a lot. So, yeah.
CS: So did you have the whole script? I talk to a lot of actors who only get their lines in an animated film.
Josh Gad: If a script existed, it was never shown to me! [laughs] They were very protective of it, apparently. Even on Frozen, I never read a script. I’ll never forget the first time I saw the film, I sat there and I was shocked that Hans turned on the sisters! I was shocked! I was like, huh? It’s one of those things! It’s very unlike live-action. You are constantly—you’re as surprised as the audience.
CS: Have you seen it yet?
Josh Gad: No! I haven’t seen it in its entirety yet.
CS: I’m dying to know what you thought of the Mighty Eagle stuff!
Josh Gad: Oh, I’ve seen the Mighty Eagle stuff and it’s incredibly funny. [Peter] Dinklage is so perfect for that role. It’s just—that pomposity that the character has just destroys me. The swimming in the “stream” is one of my favorite moments of the film.
CS: For “Frozen 2” are they telling you about the story at all?
Josh Gad: No, they’ll just drop little hints, but for the most part, not really. It’s still very much in development.
CS: I know with Disney films, they often get part way done, and then go back and rework the entire thing. Was that something they did here? Did they change things?
Josh Gad: Yeah, with animation, I consider it a luxury. In live-action, what you shoot is what you shoot. Sometimes if you’re lucky or unlucky, the film will require reshoots, but that will be like two weeks to figure things out. But you rarely get a chance to say, oh that story thread is completely broken. Let’s go back and change it all. With animation, it’s all hand-drawn or computer animated. You have the opportunity to go futz with it and discover and really, really work on it until it’s hopefully near as perfect as it can be. So with Disney or Sony or DreamWorks, or whatever it is, in my experience, that’s always been a common thread. Threads will be broken and always at first you’re like, oh what do we have here, and then you start to weed out the stuff that’s not working and develop the stuff that is working. And that’s where you get your gem.
Angry Birds will hit theaters on May 20, 2016.