Interview: Demi Lovato and Joe Manganiello on Playing ‘Smurfs’
Demi Lovato and Joe Manganiello lend their vocal talents to the latest in the franchise, the fully animated Smurfs: The Lost Village.
In the film, we see Smurfette (Demi Lovato) and her best pals Brainy (Danny Pudi), Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) and Hefty (Joe Manganiello) set out on a rollercoaster journey full of action and danger that leads them to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history.
The Lost Village is directed by Kelly Asbury, and he based it on the characters and works of Peyo, the original creator of the Smurfs. The story follows Smurfette as she finds a mysterious map that sends her and her friends into the Forbidden Forest, a place filled with magical creatures, in which the Lost Village resides.
They are also in a race against time because they must find a mysterious Lost Village before the evil wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) does and captures it’s magical essence. Once there, they discover that the village consists of all female smurfs, including SmurfStorm (Michelle Rodriguez), SmurfBlossom (Ellie Kemper), SmurfLily (Ariel Winter) and their leader, SmurfWillow (Julia Roberts).
ScreenPicks had a chance to sit in on a discussion with Lovato and Manganiello about making the movie, how they found their inner-blue Smurf and more!
Q: What inspired you to sign on to the project?
Demi Lovato: Um, I got an offer? [laughs] But it was really cool to be part of something so iconic, and once they said they were interested in me for Smurfette, you can’t turn that down.
Joe Manganiello: Same for me. Got a call that they wanted to pitch me, so I came in and they pitch me, showed me a bunch of the artwork and the Hefty mockups. They offered me the part and I said heck, yeah!
Q: Did you get at any chance to sing the Smurfs song?
Manganiello: [sings] La, la, la la laaaa. See, I grew up with the show, but I don’t think you know it, right?
Lovato: I don’t know the song. But it is familiar!
Manganiello: I’m sure I sang it in some session that we were recording, but I don’t think it was in the movie.
Q: Demi, you’ve worked in the kid arena for awhile, with “Let It Go,” Sonny with a Chance etc. What is it about the medium you like the most?
Lovato: I love kids, and I love being able to entertain them. My favorite is being a meet and greets at my concerts and having little kids come up. Some are dressed like Elsa. I also have a little sister, whose much older now, but it’s fun and innocent. It’s happy and always positive.
Q: Joe, you grew up with the Smurfs, what was it that you loved about it?
Manganiello: I did, but now I’m old. I loved that each Smurf had his own personality. And I thought that Azrael the cat was so funny. He was so nasty. Funny thing, when I was in college, in drama school, I had a professor who was from Peru, who taught us rhythm and exploration. Very higher state of consciousness type of stuff. She would scream at us and actually hit kids and throw kids out. She was intense. But if you started talking about The Smurfs she would forget that she was mad at you. And start going on and on about Brainy and Grandpa Smurf, the cat, and she would forget. It was a weird kind of out you would get. If it would make her happy, this is the happiest franchise there is.
Q: How was it fleshing out those specific characters in the recording booth?
Lovato: It’s interesting for my character because she’s trying to figure out her purpose, or as she calls it, her “Smurfness.” She’s trying to figure out her identity because everyone else has their own thing. So it’s interesting how she goes on her own journey. I played with it a little bit. Raised my voice higher, made her sound a bit younger. I didn’t want to stray too much from my regular voice because maybe I was a little self conscious about it.
Manganiello: Hefty is incredibly heroic and chivalrous, but he has this closet romantic side to him, which comes out over the course of the adventure as well. It’s fun because there’s this duality to him, endearing but also inherently funny at certain moments. Being familiar with the show, I kind of knew what Hefty was supposed to be. In my mind, it was thinking about this big strong guy who is this big. Sort of packing that into a little guy. Then thinking about juxtaposing that type of brawniness with heart. Two polar extremes to play off of.
Q: Do you think this is a movie adults and older kids will enjoy?
Manganiello: Absolutely, but I think it also plays on several levels. I think there are jokes for kids and also jokes for the adults, taking the kids to the movie or who are just going because they feel nostalgic about it. I think it works on several levels, which is what you want from an animated movie.
Q: What did you learn after diving into the Smurfs world?
Lovato: It was a little intimidating at first because it is so iconic and classic, so I wanted to do a good job. I don’t usually do animated films, so it was a new experience for me and exciting. It is a happy world, and the energy is great.
Q: How did you keep that energy up in the booth?
Lovato: Lots of coffee. They had a Coffee Bean on the lot and I utilized that a lot. But also just being as animated as possible. More so than you would do in a studio. [When she records music] I transport to another place and just completely dive into the song with whatever it’s about. And the only other person in the booth with me was my dog, who is really quiet. He’s a good dog.
Q: What do you think the message of the movie is, especially learning there is this other tribe of Smurfs.
Manganiello: One of the messages is about coming together as a family. It is that you can grow up in completely different places but you wind up coming together for a common goal. So I think that’s what’s really fun about this movie, towards the end of the movie, is this discovery and then this unity. We are all different but we are figuring out ways to work together. And it’s something that goes back to old Smurfs series that I grew up watching, which is family and friendship.
Smurfs: The Lost Village opens this Friday.
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