Reese and Kiefer Talk all things Monsters Vs Aliens

March 23, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Features

OTB got a chance to mingle with the stars recently at the Press Conference for Dreamworks’ upcoming 3D kiddy blockbuster Monsters Vs Aliens. Now we can understand the conversation getting onto Godzilla, but Radiohead? We didn’t think Thom Yorke wasthat ugly…..

In attendance: Reese Witherspoon (ooh!), Kiefer Sutherland (aah!), Jeffrey Katzenberg (Dreamworks BigWig), Conrad Vernon (co-director), Lisa Stewart (producer).

Is this film the future of cinema?

JK – I hope so. This is the beginning of a new era in which this amazing 3D technology is going to be explored by many different film makers and I think it’s going to be an exciting time, both for the film making community and even more importantly for our audiences around the world. It gives us the chance to redefine what it means to come to a movie theatre.

Did you discuss what this means as a weapon in Hollywood’s armoury against the ever-increasing problem of piracy, because it seems to me that 3D is something that you can’t instantly pirate?

LS – No you can’t. You can try and you’ll get a very blurred image but it won’t translate at all. It’s a weapon against piracy but I’d like to think of it more as a treat to get audiences off their couch and back into the theatre. I think it’s really unique way to see a movie and it’s not a thing you can see sitting in your living room and I think that’s a great advantage to all of us.

Reese, I can vouch for the fact that adults love this film, but you can tell us more I’m sure about the core audience because in the production notes you said that your kids couldn’t wait to see this movie when it was finished. I assume that they’ve now been treated to it in all its glory and I was wondering if you could give us their verdict?

RW – Yeah, I took my kids to see it a couple of weeks ago and they had such a great time. I brought a whole bunch of kids from 3 to about 12 and each one of them chose a different character that they liked. And as I was driving home, I said to my children in the back seat, “So what do you think is the message of this movie?” and my daughter very thoughtfully said “I think it’s about never letting someone underestimate you and always living up to your true potential” and I said, “That is so astute. Yes Ava, that’s exactly what this movie’s about.” And I said “Deacon, what do you think this movie’s about? Friendship? Or being an outsider?” and he said, “I think it’s about…” (he’s five years old), “I think it’s about when octopus aliens come to your planet, you gotta make sure and kill them!” so I think they both really understood the film and what we trying to get out of it.

Lisa, on the matter of references – of which there are a multitude in the movie – I wondered if it helped to have Jeffrey at your elbow when someone had to ask Mr. Spielberg if he wouldn’t mind if you poked fun at some of his classic movies?

That was something we needed to get off the top right away because once we did that first Contact scene and we did the Close Encounters and the Axel F. we were in love with it from the very beginning and we called in a big chop very early on. He was incredibly gracious and he said that if you’re going to do it you should absolutely go for it and he gave us the rights to use the Close Encounters music and “E.T. Go Home” on the missile and he was extremely generous and we were very grateful.

Reese, as someone who was so brilliant in an action role, are you planning to do more action movies? And Kiefer, as someone who was so good as a comedic character, are you planning to broaden your comedy scope?

RW- I don’t know if I’m cut out to be an action star. That was the hardest part of the movie for me was trying to talk… This is like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone, so say it in that tagline way, you know “I AM GINORMICA!” and I couldn’t do it, they’d be like “No, that sounds like a robot, do it again”. It’d be cool to do that and my kids really liked the fact that it was action packed, that was really fun.

KF – First off, thank you so much for the very kind compliment. I’ve been naturally drawn to more dramatic roles, it’s something that I’ve always felt more comfortable with. The arc actually for me in even animated movies has been a giant learning curve. To my own detriment, I find at times I get self-conscious and you find yourself in a recording studio by yourself with 10 people on the other side of a glass window looking at you. And I had an absolutely wonderful time, right up to the point when I realised they were filming it and then I got really quiet again. It was so much fun for me and certainly I would welcome the opportunity to branch out and do other things but I think in live action comedies that I would be drawn to would be dark still so we’ll see.

Conrad, it can’t have been an accident that the brightest people in the film are female, because there’s Reese’s character and there’s even the minor character of the girl in the sports car; she’s much brighter than the sports jock she’s with. Was that early on, a point to say that women in films have been traditionally the damsel in distress; here they’re taking the initiative?

CV – With Reese’s character for sure, we wanted to turn that round intentionally. One of the first scenes written for the film was that make-out scene and I think that was an attempt just to turn the tables. Steve Mcqueen in The Blob and John Travolta and Olivia Newton John in Grease; it was always the guy trying to sneak his arm around the girl, in this one it was the girl trying to sneak her arm around the guy.

LS – Those roles were excellent cameos. I went out to lunch with Renee Zellwegger after she’d seen Bee Movie and I said, now that you’re so good at that do you want to do me a favour, I’ve got a cameo for you. And she said, “I’ll do it in a second” and she was doing a movie with John Krasinski from The Office and I said “Get him!” and she said alright and that was that, that was our casting for that role and Renee and John were great in it.

Who are your favourite movie monsters?

JK – Godzilla.

KS – Um… Godzilla was going to be my answer, but in the movie with Bambi… I’ll have to think about it for a second.

RW – I think the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

LS – I was terrified by The Fly, when he’s caught in the web… the Vincent Price original.

CV – The Blob always freaked me out. Mothra was kind of cool because of the little Japanese girls. There’s quite a few in there; all the monster movies that we paid homage to in the movie, the ones that really stick out.

KS – The Killer Tomatoes were obviously fantastic and I think they really represent the movie because of the humour aspect was really important.

Conrad, I believe your voice skills extend to mimicking your actors. I was wondering if it came to a sequel, could you do your own movie? And have you thought of doing that as a career?

CV – Yeah, actually I’ve been practising Reese’s voice in the mirror for my own edification. A career? I don’t know. I don’t think it could ever be a full time career. I certainly enjoy it, it’s fun to do but full-time I haven’t studied the art of acting to pull it off in front of a camera. I was definitely the class clown and I definitely mimicked people and got punched a few times but it’s fun to do these voices and I just pop up in front of the mic when we have a new line or something and just throw it in.

LS – Conrad’s done every voice in the movie at one point or another. He’s in tons of Dreamworks’movies. Last night you did Tiny Tim doing Radiohead?

CV – I thought, what if Tiny Tim were to sing a Radiohead song. ‘Green plastic watering can’…

Reese, I think you’re unfairly tagged as a monster in the movie, I think you’re much more of a superhero. So with that in mind, what kind of superpowers would you like to have and would you use them as a force for good or evil?

RW – It’d be nice to have every superpower wouldn’t it? Why do I have to choose just one? Um…probably I’d choose invisibility. It’d be nice to escape out of certain situations or be able to spy on people. Good or evil, a little bit of both…

KS – I’d love to be able to fly and I would hope I would use it for good.

Jez Sands

We all know that the horse’s mouth is never the most reliable. So head on over to our exclusive Monsters Vs Aliens 3D Review to check out the OTB verdict. Oh, and when we say ’3D Review’ we don’t mean you have to wear those silly glasses to understand it.

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