Cosgrove's built up a huge fan following, and the directors knew the popular young actress could carry off the attitude needed of Margo in the Despicable Me. "The role is a tough role, and Miranda landed something important for us," said co-director Chris Renaud. "The girls are the soul of the movie, and Margo - more than even the other two - is the conscience for Gru and she’s the big sister to everybody...including Gru. It was an important choice to get Miranda, who has fantastic acting capability and gave Margo exactly the voice we needed, one with weight to it."
At the LA press conference for the Universal Pictures/Illumination Entertainment family film, Cosgrove explained how she went about tackling the role of Margo.
Miranda Cosgrove Despicable Me Press ConferenceHow much are you like your character and what’s really different?
Miranda Cosgrove: "Well, I think a big part of the character is she is really protective of her two little sisters, and in real life I don’t have any siblings. My best friend has a little sister so I try to use her a little bit because she’s always trying to make the right decisions and she’s always helping her sister. I am like her because she’s pretty strong in the movie and she’s not afraid to stand up to Gru. I’m a little like that. Especially when I was younger, like 10 or 11, I’d always try to get my way and she does that a lot in the movie."
Did you get a chance to read through with the cast?
Miranda Cosgrove: "You know, it’s funny because I thought that doing an animated movie was going to be easier, for some reason, than a TV show or something like that. But I think it’s a lot harder because I didn’t have anybody with me in the room. It’s just me in this little sound booth. I got to see pictures of the characters which helped a lot. Like I got to see a picture of Gru and the minions and my character, Margo. And it helped me to imagine the whole world while I was in the little booth."
How do you bring a sense of personality and bring an edge to a character like this?
Miranda Cosgrove: "I thought that was the hardest part, just really figuring out what the character was going to be like. The directors helped a lot. It was interesting because they did the animation in Paris so every single time I would go into the sound booth, I’d be talking to them on iChat. There’d be a five second delay so I’d say the lines and then I’d have to wait five seconds to see if they laughed, to see if they liked it. So I’d just be waiting, but they helped me a lot with it because they’re really great animators. They just said, 'Put everything into it. Just really go crazy and have fun.' It was nice because they let me improv a lot. They’d say, 'Do the line three times the way it’s written, and then just go crazy and do one for yourself.'"
Did anything you improv’ed make it into the movie?
Miranda Cosgrove: "Oh yeah, there’s a scene where I kind of copied Gru’s voice which that was one of my favorite scenes just because it’s so fun trying to copy that voice because it’s so crazy. I just kind of did it one take for fun and they were like, 'Oh, we like that. Let’s try it again.' Then the directors in Paris were doing the voice and trying to help me do it. Everyone in the sound booth in L.A. were all trying to help me too, so I got to hear everyone’s take on his voice."
How did you describe your character and incorporate that into the voice?
Miranda Cosgrove: "Well, my character, Margo’s younger than me. I think she’s supposed to be 11 or 12. Like I was saying about my best friend, how she has her little sister, I tried to use her a lot for the character just because I’ve always thought she was really sweet the way she is with her little sister. But yeah, I just tried to be really authoritative I guess because she has a lot of responsibility on her shoulders even though she’s really young. She’s kind of like the mom of the two little girls."
Did you see any of your own gestures in the final film?
Miranda Cosgrove: "Yeah, I did. I thought that was so exciting to see that because when I first saw the picture of the character, I love the way she looks and I love her outfit and her glasses and everything but she doesn’t really look anything like me. Then I found out that they film you the entire time you do animation and they use your hand gestures and facial expressions. So then when I went to see the movie for the first time, I was like, 'Wow, she does look like me.' She makes a lot of the same expressions I make and does silly things like me."
Were you surprised Julie Andrews played a mean grandmother?
Miranda Cosgrove: "I know. She’s so sweet. It’s hard to see her as a mean character, but she’s really good in the movie. She really is convincing. I was really nervous the first I went in to record for the movie, I met her because she was on her way out. It’s just so strange to be walking down a hall and pass Julie Andrews. She’s like the queen or something. She’s really elegant, her voice."
Did you say anything to her?
Miranda Cosgrove: "Yeah, I did. I was a little embarrassed because I love Princess Diaries and I also love Sound of Music and I love Victor/Victoria. She’s been in these incredible movies but I said that I loved her in Princess Diaries 2, which that’s a great movie but I should have said like Mary Poppins or something."
How close are you to your castmates?
Miranda Cosgrove: "I mean, I met Jason [Segel] and Steve [Carell] for the first time two weeks after we finished the movie, which is kind of funny because we were finished with the whole thing and I’d never met them. I met them under really weird circumstances. I was supposed to be doing the conga and they had these 12 people dressed up as the minions in the movie, these 12 little people. They did a dance, a choreographed dance. So we were told to do the conga with them and try to follow along with the dancing. It was just really funny. Steve and Jason were laughing so hard they could barely breathe and I was just really weirded out standing there, so that’s pretty funny."
Have you ever been despicable?
Miranda Cosgrove: "Yes, on Mother’s Day I dropped my mom’s cell phone in a toilet. It was by accident. I borrowed her phone - I was going to see a movie and my phone went dead so I borrowed hers. I went to the bathroom and I was walking towards the bathroom stall holding the phone and I tripped. It was like out of a TV show or movie. It just flew out of my hand and plopped right in the toilet. And then I was freaking out because it was Mother’s Day and I knew A) she’d be upset anyways but on Mother’s Day, that’s just the worst. I was with my friend, one of my best friends who always laughs whenever something bad happens. It’s just like this uncontrollable thing with her. She starts laughing. Then she was trying to be nice and help me. She said we should go to her house and try to blow dry it, but she lived like 10 miles from the movie theater. So we were going to try to walk to her house at one point. It was pretty crazy."