A rogue asteroid helps turn Reese Witherspoon‘s Susan Murphy into Ginormica in Monsters vs. Aliens, the latest big 3-D animated feature lurking on the release horizon. Excerpts from a specially convened press conference last December, where Witherspoon and other cast members talked about the making of the film.
Question: How did you get your head around doing the voice for an animation film?
Reese Witherspoon: It’s sort of an interesting process. I went in to meet Jeffrey Katzenberg as just a general thought, an idea, once I started seeing some of the DreamWorks Animation movies over and over again at my house with my children. We had a meeting and he walked me though the process of what they do and I ended up seeing the storyboards for this movie and I got very excited. It seemed like such a good idea. It all revolved around this great image of my character sitting on the roof of the gas station, which was really cool. So we signed on and, I guess, about a year later, I started doing recording, which I like to call “actor in a box.” (laughs) It was great. I’d never really done voiceover work before, so it was really helpful to have Rob and Conrad there to walk me through everything because it’s so stop-and-go, and you pick up scenes here and there, and then you double back and get them again.
Q: You’re a gorgeous, petite woman so how did it feel to play a 49-foot-and-three-quarter-inch tall woman? How did you act that?
RW: They sort of walked me through the process of her as she was growing and growing, and what it was like. And they had to constantly give me the perspective too, because Insectosaurus is much bigger than me and then the alien robots are even bigger. (laughs) So it was constantly like, “Look up, and there it is!” or “Project further.” And she gets her strength and really enjoys having that super power. She gets stronger and more deeply involved with the voice work.
Q: Do you have any favorite ’50s B-movies?
RW: Yeah, my dad used to watch those Roger Corman movies late at night. He’s obsessed with Corman. Apparently he found out some way you can intern for Corman if you just give him $5,000 so he’s in the queue. He’s waiting for his opportunity, for his number to be pulled.
Q: Do you have any childhood memories of 3-D?
RW: I just remember being really nearsighted when I was little. I had those giant glasses so I had to put the 3-D glasses over the glasses, and that makes it kind of difficult and a little bit confusing. But we took care of all that. It’s not going to be like that anymore.
Q: What was most challenging about playing Ginormica?
RW: Just the running — there’s so much action in the movie that they had to run through, so the directors would be like (breathless voice), “Okay, now you’re running, now you’re being chased by a giant, alien robot! Now he’s over your left shoulder. No! He’s over your right shoulder! Now you’re on your giant roller skates, which are really cars strapped to your feet!” So I had to do all that, and I guess that was kind of a funny thing. To get really good energy, I’d always have to eat an entire pack of M&Ms.
Q: You’re a great role model, but who do you look up to?
RW: I admire a lot of people who manage to have great careers and a family life, and have managed to keep their feet on the ground; Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were a great inspiration. Also people who do great things with their celebrity, and manage to create opportunities for other people who really need it. I think that’s a great thing.