At the movies

Chris Wedge talks directing ‘Epic’

 

In Epic, opening Friday, Miami’s own Pitbull plays a character that always makes money, no matter the situation.

Sound familiar?

“I didn’t think of anybody else for that role, to be honest,” director Chris Wedge said from (appropriately) the Epic hotel in downtown Miami.

“Mr. Worldwide” plays Bufo, a smooth-talking, chain-wearing toad that weaves his way in and out of trouble en route to a profit.

“When we talked a little bit about it, he said something like, ‘Oh, man, you got to get in a zone. I get it. You got to get in a zone,’ and yeah, that’s exactly it,” said Wedge, who also directed the animated Ice Age hits.

Epic features a civilization of tiny people, the Leafmen, and their counterparts, the Boggans, as they struggle over control of a lush forest. M.K., played by Amanda Seyfried, is thrown into the mix after she stumbles into this world that her father ( Saturday Night Live’s Jason Sudeikis), has spent his whole life researching.

The film also features the voices of NBC’s Parks and Recreation star Aziz Ansari, Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler.

“When it came to some of the personalities that may be larger than life, those were characters that I wanted to be larger than life,” said Wedge, who won an Academy Award for the animated short Bunny in 1998.

Still, finding the right mix of people proved to be a challenge.

“There’s so much riding on the casting,” he said. “I try and meld the voice with the character design so that it brings the character to life but doesn’t pull you out of the movie.”

Singer Beyoncé Knowles. voices the character of Tara, queen of the forest. Her golden pipes make the character, not the other way around.

“That’s not a mistake,” Wedge said. “We wouldn’t have done it if her speaking voice did not have as much presence and gravity as it does.”

The movie was inspired by an art exhibition catalog featuring Victorian fairy paintings that depicted renderings of “worlds that could be out there,” Wedge said. Epic executive producer William Joyce ( Rolie Polie Olie) showed Wedge the catalog. The concept of the Leafmen was inspired by Joyce’s 2001 picture book, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs.

“I thought, ‘Well there’s the world we go to right there,’ ” Wedge said. “Then it was up to us to create an original story that backed into that world.”

This was not an easy task by any means: The filmmakers spent about 10 years getting everything right.

The cast meshes so well that some kids didn’t even recognize Pitbull.

“I talked to some kids and they asked, ‘Which character was Pitbull?’ I said, ‘Seriously, you couldn’t tell?’ ” Wedge said, laughing. “To me, that’s good.”

Anthony Cave

Read more People stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Michael Franit

    In concert

    Michael Franti & Spearhead bring Soulshine Tour to Boca Raton

    Usually, when lead singers of rock bands shout to the crowd “Are you feeling good?!” they don’t mean it in a holistic or spiritual way. But that might change at the Soulshine Tour Featuring Michael Franti & Spearhead, which hits Sunset Cove Amphitheater in Boca Raton on Tuesday.

  •  
Actress Elizabeth Berkley attends Dizzy Feet Foundation's Celebration Of Dance Gala at The Music Center on July 19, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

    Celebrity birthdays on July 28

    Actor Darryl Hickman is 83. Cartoonist Jim Davis (“Garfield”) is 69. Singer Jonathan Edwards is 68. Actress Sally Struthers is 66. Actress Georgia Engel is 66. Actor Michael Hayden (“Murder One”) is 51. Actress Lori Loughlin is 50. Actress Elizabeth Berkley is 42. Singer Afroman is 40. Rapper Soulja Boy is 24.

  • Radar

    Hot stuff celebrities love

    Donny Osmond is on a hot streak. The child star turned teen heartthrob turned Vegas entertainer just came out with a rustic-chic interiors line with wife Debbie. The couple picked up ideas for Donny Osmond Home through their travels. Want music? There’s that too. His 60th album, “Soundtrack of My Life,” is set to drop in January. The real-life American Idol, 56, proves he’s Web savvy, too, launching an app that offers stories and previews of the songs. donnyosmond.com.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category