IAR INTERVIEW: Steve Martin, Jim Parsons, and Rihanna Talk 'Home'

Wednesday, 25 March 2015 09:53 Written by  iamrogue
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IAR INTERVIEW: Steve Martin, Jim Parsons, and Rihanna Talk 'Home'

Between Jim Parsons, Rihanna, and Steve Martin, this Friday's animated adventure Home brings together three formidable talents best known for television, music, and film, respectively.

The latest film from DreamWorks Animation, Home centers around the four-legged Broov, a species of highly confident purple aliens in search of a new homeworld.  When they find one in Earth, the Broov promptly relocate humanity and get to work rejiggering the planet, removing everything that doesn't fit their style.  When one resourceful human manages to avoid the Broov, she must team with an outcast extraterrestrial for a wild trip in which the unlikely duo attempt to make Earth safe for people and Broov alike.

The outcast is Oh (Parsons, Big Bang Theory), who like Jar-Jar Binks before him was banished on account of his clumsiness.  The human who becomes his buddy and partner is Gratuity "Tip" Tucci (Rihanna, Battleship), a reluctant driver in an airborne road trip.  In order to save both Earthlings and Broov, together they have to face Captain Smek (Martin, It's Complicated), the oblivious leader of the alien invaders.

Home is from Tim Johnson, who previously helmed the suburban animal comedy Over the Hedge, the digitally animated Antz and the traditionally animated Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas.  More importantly, he oversaw the "Homer Cubed" CG segment in a long ago Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" episode.

The stars of Home were all eager to praise their director during a press day at DreamWorks last year, when IAR was on hand to discuss the scifi comedy with the actors who lent their voices to the film.  Rihanna, Parsons, and Martin all enthusiastically discussed the film, addressing the surreal nature of voice acting, American accents, the emotional heart of Home, music, the film's message, and where they feel most at home.

Speaking for herself and Parsons, Rihanna explained, “Neither of us I know had ever done an animated film, and the story just spoke to me. It was so real, and I found so many parallels in it. I felt like I identified with Tip. She’s essentially a role model, and for me it was very strange reading a character that you could look up to. I was very excited. I’d never done an animated film before."

"Even before I knew what the story was I was very excited about the idea because I wanted a chance to do an animated film," echoed Parsons. "And then once we talked about it I just like the little character that I was playing so much—even the way he looked."

Playing a character purely via his voice, he said, was "the most interesting playtime I’ve ever had as an actor—it’s about this feeling of going down a mysterious but joyful black hole, almost, where there’s nobody else there and there are directions being thrown at you by Tim, and once you relax after fifteen or twenty minutes and say, ‘Okay, I don’t care if I look like an ass,’ it’s really fun to see what happens. You know that nothing is being visually judged in that way, and thank God, because I never left without being a sweaty mess, ever.”

"You learn so much when the camera is not there," said Rihanna. "Especially for me, being from Barbados, I have an accent, so learning to speak American you realize that there’s twenty different types of American. There’s all these different types of accents, which I didn’t know (about). I was learning all over again, not just about accents but also how to act with my voice."
As for how he got involved with Home, Martin joked, "I know Jeffrey Katzenberg, because we both drive the same car, and when I heard that Tim Johnson was directing I thought, ‘Is he a foreigner? Because he has such an exotic name!’"

"No, actually, I love the animated process because it’s kind of like writing a play, in that you can try it out, you can change it, you can go back and experiment in seventy different ways," e continued. "When I saw the first animated sequences I was really astounded. I thought it was beautiful. So much emotion can be brought in an animated film that’s very hard to get in a live-action film—it might be because the characters can make facial expressions that if you made in a movie they would call corny. But I find animated movies very touching. They reach an audience that is hard to get in live-action films. So I was thrilled to be in a movie that is so affecting, and with a fabulous leader and these two fantastic talents.”

"And we had a lot of emotional moments in this film that I didn’t really expect," Rihanna agreed. "Because it’s an animated film you think it’s going to be all fun, but it’s so real that you really connect to the characters. There’s one specific moment in the movie that really wrecks me, and I feel like it’s going to (impact) everyone in the same way. When I was watching it for the first time it was just stick figures, it wasn’t even at the point where the animation was all finished, so I was bawling my eyes out and I was so embarrassed."

Despite the emotional moments and some thematic meat on Home's bones, Martin explained, “Basically, I think films are about having a good time. There’s a message in the film about friendship and how valuable it is, but I wouldn’t want a kid to walk out and say, ‘Wow, friendship is valuable!’ I just would really him rather say, ‘Gee, wasn’t it funny when this happened,’ or ‘I cried when that happened.’ And then they can connect with the message on an almost subliminal level, a week or even a year later. The message of a film is always what a critic writes about, and the fun or emotion of a film is what an audience feels.”

“He’s right," added Parsons. "The movie is about friendship, and you never know who it’s really going to be with. If you’re open to it, some real magic can come into your life that way. But I spent a brief period of time very early on working in day care, and we would play the same animated movies again and again, and kids always enjoyed them. I think with something like this movie the first hope would always be that it’s simply entertaining to them, and that any message of goodwill toward men or whatever it is embedded in the general tone. It’s fun enough to watch that you can absorb that message."

“Personally, for me, I felt like the message of the movie became clearer and clearer as it went on," Rihanna explained. "You see these two individuals from completely different worlds and they have completely different ideas about who each other are, based on the worlds they come from and the different environments where they grew up, and by the end of the movie you start to see all these similarities being revealed and acknowledged between the two of them. That’s the basis of their friendship. There’s this thing we have as humans where we judge each other, without even knowing or even having a conversation, really. By the end of the movie, they’re so similar that when you think back to the beginning of the movie when they first met, it really is like 180 degrees.”

Being one of the biggest music stars on the planet, Rihanna created a Home concept album of eight original songs to accompany the film.  "Music is such an important and crucial part to the animated film. You don’t think about it, but you can watch Tom & Jerry for hours, and there’s no words," she said. "The music dictates the emotion, it dictates where the story is going or how you’re supposed to feel the suspense. Everything is in the music, so I worked very closely with Tim and Jeffrey Katzenberg, because I could bring them songs but if it didn’t move them or make sense in a certain part of the movie then it wouldn’t work.”

Since the film is all about the idea of home, each actor was asked what the title of Home means to them personally.

“Home for me is when someone comes up to me and says, ‘Can I get a selfie?’" Martin answered with a laugh. "No, it’s the same—it’s where your wife and your family are, the emotional place where you feel like you’re not away from it.”

“For me it’s wherever I feel safe, or safest," said Rihanna. "Anything that feels familiar and comfortable. Most of the time that’s just Barbados. It’s warm, it’s beautiful, there’s the beach, my family, the food, the music—it’s everything that feels familiar and right and safe. Barbados is home for me.”

"Yeah, everybody seems to sort of have the same (feeling). It’s where you feel un-judged, and that what I do isn’t necessarily stupid or wrong or something," concluded Parsons. "That’s it.”

Home opens nationwide in 2D and 3D this Friday, March 27th.

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