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Inside 'Rio' with Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx, and George Lopez

Along with Director Carlos Saldanha


Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaway and George Lopez Rio Interview

Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaway and George Lopez Rio Interview

Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images
January 28, 2011 - 20th Century Fox hosted a special Sneak 'Beak' screening of clips from Blue Sky Studios' latest animated film, Rio, set to hit theaters on April 15th. Directed by Carlos Saldanha (the man behind the Ice Age films), the bird-centric 3D animated comedy features the voices of Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway as Blu and Jewel (two rare blue macaws), Jamie Foxx as a yellow canary who knows how to handle women, and George Lopez as a friendly toucan who helps Blu and Jewel escape from kidnappers looking to make a fortune off the extremely rare birds.

The clips Saldanha showed off to the preview audience introduced each of the main characters ( Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords as the voice of the villain was a big hit with the preview audience) and provided a short but revealing look at what audiences can expect from Rio. In an interview prior to the sneak 'beak', Saldanha told me he upped the colors to compensate for the muted effect caused by 3-D glasses, and this animated film does look much brighter than most 3-D animated movies. The clips Saldanha chose to show off also revealed Rio's a high-energy project filled with action sequences and song & dance numbers.

Saldanha was joined by Rio voice cast members Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx and George Lopez for the sneak beak, and following the screening of the clips the cast and Saldanha took part in a press conference to discuss the project.

Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx, George Lopez, and Carlos Saldanha Rio Press Conference

Anne, now that you’ve done some singing in this are you eager to do some more? Perhaps on the Academy Awards?

Anne Hathaway: "Singing has always been something that I've loved to do. I never thought about doing professionally; I always felt more drawn to acting. But, who knows? I mean, I’m doing things that I never, ever, ever thought I would do in front of a lot of people as well, and so anything is possible."

Did you work with Jesse Eisenberg while you were doing the voice work?

Anne Hathaway: "No, no, no. I haven’t seen Jesse except for socially throughout this whole process. Interestingly, for those of you that are avid IMDB surfers, Jesse and I played brother and sister on a television series, a Fox Television series in 1999 called Get Real. I was his older sister Meghan Green and he was Kenny Green. I’m very happy for all of his success."

Anne you’ve done voice work before. Is there something special about it for you that makes it freeing? And Jamie, this is your first voice?

Anne Hathaway: "This is your first? Really?"

What is the contrast and how are you liking it? And Anne, what is it about voice work that makes you really have fun doing it?

Jamie Foxx: "Well for me, I was just trying to act. I'm doing all these things and he's like, 'You're not actually on film.' You actually have to get the voice right, which I felt was the greatest challenge. And then to look at it...we were seeing some of it for the first time and that blows you away because, just to be honest, a lot of times you go to animated films and you go, 'It’s going to be dumbed down for the kids, and I'm just taking them...chained to my kid.' But this right here I was like, 'This is really wow.' It's got the wow factor. I just had a great time."

Anne Hathaway: "You're giving me way too much credit. I love employment."

Carlos Saldanha: "Don't we all?"

Anne Hathaway: "Yes, we do, and it’s never, ever guaranteed. And it's not really, as much as I love doing animated voices, I just kind of love working. I loved the people who have asked me to do it and it’s been an honor. I’ve worked on The Simpsons twice and now I've worked with Carlos. I just keep getting these opportunities that I can’t say no to. No one could."

We just saw that you can fly in the film. Are we going to see some kind of new Anne Hathaway at the Academy Awards presentation?

Anne Hathaway: "I will turn myself into an animated blue bird and fly at the Oscars, yes. Blue Sky has been working on it forever. I hope so because that means I get to meet a new version of myself, which is kind of I think the best part about working is that you never know what you're going to learn when you start out. Oftentimes what you wind up learning is very different than what you expect. So hopefully, yeah."

Did you work with any of the other actors during your voice work?

Anne Hathaway: "No, I don’t know if you guys did."

George Lopez: "Did you work with Will?"

Jamie Foxx: "Yes, Will and I worked on the music. That was hot."

Anne Hathaway: "Yeah, Will and Sergio [Mendes] were there when I did my voice part too, but none of the actors."

Were you nervous about the singing part? Is the small bit we saw of you singing in the clips all the singing there is in the film?

Carlos Saldanha: "There’s more."

Anne Hathaway: "There’s quite a bit more. This man can get me to do anything. The project, every time I would come, he would show me more footage and it was just breathtaking. It really was. So then when he says, 'So now can you sing?’ you can’t say anything but yes. But it is intimidating to sing in front of Sergio and will.i.am, as I'm sure you can imagine. That morning I had an extra cup of coffee to steel my nerves."

How did you do?

Anne Hathaway: "I don’t know. I think that’s for all of you to decide."

Carlos Saldanha: "She did fine. She did fantastic."

Carlos, you mentioned it was quite challenging getting the drool from the bulldog. What else was challenging going into this, and was it originally going to be done in 3-D?

Carlos Saldanha: "We originally planned on doing 3-D because Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs was the first 3-D movie from Blue Sky that we did. So we decided this one would also be in 3-D, so that was better because I got to prepare a little bit ahead of time. Coming from the experience of Ice Age helped me quite a bit. But one of the many challenges of this movie, like creating a carnival parade is not easy. Even the birds themselves with the feathers and like how the feathers would perform was very difficult. It's just a complex movie in terms of scale. It's probably the biggest thing we’ve ever done at Blue Sky. So, in general it was still very complex. As we speak we’re rendering the final frames back home."

George, do you get to sing or did you want to sing?

George Lopez: "I’m not going to let them all sing and me just sit there with a big nose, flying around. How did I sing?"

Carlos Saldanha: "You sang beautifully."

George Lopez: "I sing as well in the end song about Rio. It's fantastic."

Carlos Saldanha: "It was good. All these guys just in general, like we have a finale that I didn't show you guys but it's a finale that everybody sings a little bit. It's a reintroduction of the cast at the very end. These guys did amazing."

George Lopez: "I also rock out. I throw a little 'Girl from Ipanema' to charm my wife to allow me to go carnival. It's so bad that it works."

Carlos Saldanha: "It was great. No, no, it sounds perfect."

What quick advice or one piece of advice would you give a kid or parents to not give up in the face of adversity?

Jamie Foxx: "Me and my boy were calculating the years a couple of days ago, I’m 43 so we calculated, 'Hey, man, you know like in 35, 40 years we won’t be here.' It was like, 'We might as well get it all in as far as living and enjoying your life.' Because if you look at how long the earth has been here - I know it sounds a little weird to say but we're living in the blink of an eye so whatever it is you want to do, you go out and do it."

"I remember meeting President Obama looking at him like, 'Damn, this dude is really our President.' It tripped me out like, 'You really went out and did it!' So if you look at stories like that and there are other stories that I'm sure that you could compare to, but those types of things it’s just about freeing your mind and taking that self...I don’t know what you call it...those guards...You know how you have the guards up when you're bowling? Just take it off. Bowl that strike, or at least try."

George Lopez: "And in the movie when he wants to fly and he’s afraid - it's in the movie - you have to feel it in here. So you have to feel it in there to be able to let yourself go and fly."

Anne Hathaway: "I think the only thing in life that you really have to worry about is how you treat other people. If you mess up and treat someone else badly, you apologize and don’t apologize for anything else. Be yourself and go for it. And then just a little bit of practical advice: When you’re doing something and it feels really hard, what I always do is I look like - and this is such a dumb example but I don’t love exercise. Some of it is more fun than others so what I do is if you're on the treadmill and you don’t want to finish the thing, you look at it and you say, 'Okay, this is 20 minutes versus the rest of my life. I’m going to spend the rest of my life doing so many other things, I can do this for 20 minutes.' And so I just think if you break it down into achievable goals, you’ll wind up achieving more than you ever thought you could."

Jamie, as much as your success is due to your movies, you can’t talk about Jamie Foxx without talking about the musician part. You work with some great people here. Can you connect the dots in terms of the history with will.i.am or not, the concept of working with Sergio and how it made you feel and how you think it all came together?

Jamie Foxx: "The history of myself and will.i.am is we performed at Wango Tango. That’s when my daughter said that I had made it in music. We've seen each other a lot. We did the 'We Are The World' joint. Then with this, this is just mind-blowing. I mean to be able to do that song Samba joint and watch will.i.am. I don’t know if you noticed it but will.i.am does the engineer and the producing at the same time, which usually it's one or the other. He says he’s so comfortable in the studio, so that was fantastic. Carlinhos Brown was complete music. Everything he did was music. He’d hear a sound on the table or anything like that and it was amazing. It was fantastic."

Jewel in the movie plays extraordinarily hard to get. Anne, would recommend that as a way for birds to get a guy? Guys, can you speak to women who are like hard to get as dating advice or not dating advice?

George Lopez: "I believe you must always respect your bird."

Anne Hathaway: "I believe you must always respect other people’s birds too."

Playing hard to get, is that something you do when dating?

Anne Hathaway: "I am a girl without game. I’m not interested in games. I think if you are someone who playing hard to get comes naturally to, go with God. Do that. For me, I’m a 'wear my heart on my sleeve, fall in love at first sight go with it' sort of girl. I would no more play hard to get than I would...well, I can’t really think of anything that I might not do. No, that one doesn't make a lot of sense to me but I understand some girls... I don’t know, don't you think it's all about having fun with someone? Learning how to communicate with someone in a way that you enjoy? If you're with someone who enjoys that, maybe that’s the way you're supposed to do it. I don’t know."

George Lopez: "And some things don’t fit. You have to go for the fit. Sometimes you meet somebody and it doesn’t work. You have to be smart enough to say, ‘I’m not feeling that,’ and be honest enough to tell that person that."

Jamie Foxx: "And it’s tough in L.A. too. When your movie is hot, your options are like crazy."

George Lopez: "And your Range Rover has to be of the year."

Jamie Foxx: "I love dating in L.A. because I think girls have to play a little hard to get here because we come with so much bravado and so much stuff. I love how I’ll date a girl and they'll always put 'little' in front of everything I do. You know what I mean?"

Anne Hathaway: "No!"

Jamie Foxx: "They put little in front of everything I do except for one thing. But what they do is this, they say, ‘Hi, Jamie. I know who you are. I see you doing your little movies and your little things, and win your little Grammys and win your little Oscar.' Huh? There's nothing little, but they do that because it's tough terrain out here so they keep you at bay. I dig the person that’s not quite so easy because the easy thing sort of scares me. You'll meet somebody and all of a sudden you’re dating and you’re on a cruise."

Anne Hathaway: "I think everybody knows exactly what you're talking about, Jamie. Don’t you just hate it when you meet someone and all of a sudden you're on a cruise?"

Jamie Foxx: "That’s my go-to though!"

Anne Hathaway: "I have a question though because I do want to actually know about this. Sorry, my question. Would you prefer a girl who is up front with her feelings but is honest with you? So like if she was like, 'I like you but I’m going to call you on your stuff.'"

Jamie Foxx: "It varies because, like I say, in this business or in the world that we are in it's hard to sort of gauge. Like I usually date outside the business because the person outside of the business who is maybe an accountant or maybe a lawyer or something like that, is just a totally different thing. We are - the actor and the actress - sometimes we’ll be playing a scene out. I'll just be in a scene and the club is this and that and we got on a plane and we just did Scarface. The only thing that was missing was the white suit."

"I agree with that, the trueness of the feelings right off the bat for people like myself usually helps. But then what's the problem is, you have to stick to the truth that you set up. Because when the person says, 'No, I’m fine,' or, 'I'm fine with that. Do what you want to do,' or you say, 'No, I’m cool. You go on with your girlfriends and you’re all going to be at the club.' And then after you actually start feeling for, that's when it creeps out. And I believe this: women bend, men break. Women are like, 'There’s hair in the car. It's not my hair. I won’t say anything right now, I’ll log it as evidence.' 'His cell phone is going off and somebody just sent him a naked tweet picture, I'm not going to check it. I'll log it as evidence.' 'He’s supposed to be home at 2 o’clock because the club closed at two. You are 20 minutes from the club and you get home at 8, I log it as evidence.' The minute we have the simple argument, women, 'September 28th there was hair in my car.' Just like a lawyer, right? So women will bend with you. Guys are different; we break. I’m going to tell you how we break."

Anne Hathaway: "Okay."

Jamie Foxx: "Me and you are dating each other. We've seen each other for a while, we’re watching television, right? And you go, ‘You know, George is so funny.’ 'Funny like what? You want to sleep with George and have funny children with George? How about I get my funny gun, put my funny bullets in it and kill you and funny a** George?' That's the way guys - that's the break."

Anne Hathaway: "So all men go to the funny gun?"

Jamie Foxx: "That’s the way it is."

George Lopez: "Also if you're at dinner and the phone is face down, you might have the beginning of a problem. Because on the iPhone the text message pops us and you can go, 'Oh...' So when you see a phone face down, you've got the beginning of a break and a bend."

Carlos, obviously having marquee names in your cast helps get attention for your film. What was it about the tonal quality of the actors that you cast that made you want them to be part of this movie?

Carlos Saldanha: "Well, as they mentioned before, in animated movies you don’t see their faces. You don’t see who they are, we just hear who they are and that is very important for me. It's like you have to listen to their voices, listen to the way that they act and that makes the decision in terms of who's going to be in the movie. It’s a process that’s very hard for them because they don’t have anybody to interact with so they have to interact with me and I have to play different roles. The movie is not made so we record the voices before we make the movie. So it's a very difficult process, but it takes a few sessions."

Even before you record, with your casting - what was it about the sounds of those voices? Like Leslie Mann, she has such as a specific sound in her voice?

Carlos Saldanha: "What we do is I create a profile of the character and I say, 'This is the personality of the character.' I will search for different names and I’ll put their voices against that character with the image. I just have a picture and I do a little bit of hearing the voice while looking at a picture of the character, because that’s what I have at the time when I cast. Then I try to get used to it and see how far I can take that. Once I make that decision, then I go after the talent and I make sure that we talk through the character and how they feel about it. If they accept and we work together, the voices will match."

"I go a little bit prepared. What we did, just the one quick example for Anne, we got a bunch of clips from Rachel Getting Married, we got a clip from other movies that she's done, and we actually animated to that. It was so funny because one of the scenes was the spy movie that you did?"

Anne Hathaway: Get Smart."

Carlos Saldanha: "We did a scene with her and Blu being like Steve Carrell and her being in a cage, trying to find a way out the cage. It's fun. We do a lot of testing before we go after the actors."

What on your thoughts on the film's impact on people's perceptions of Rio, Brazil?

Carlos Saldanha: "Definitely, because my movies are broad. Ice Age played all over the world and, of course, any movie that I make that is released everywhere, it gets a lot of exposure. And of course the title being Rio it goes without saying that it is something that will hopefully bring pride and bring understanding and a little bit more knowledge. There's a lot of movies that take place, like Kung Fu Panda portrays a little bit of China and other movies like Ratatouille portray a little about Paris. But it's hard to find a movie that portrays Rio or Brazil and I thought it was a good way just to show a little bit of it. And it's exciting I think that more than anything it's more about the point of the story, so it works."

What’s your relationship with Rio? Did your views change at all after doing the movie?

George Lopez: "Mine has, absolutely. When Jamie Foxx says, 'We’re going to the premiere of Rio, right?’ and I’m like, 'Hell yeah, and we’ll probably break.' But no, when you see the passion that Carlos has from the beginning. When I was recording, I closed my eyes and listened to him, and just imagine that. In acting, you can’t close your eyes. In this acting you close your eyes and your whole world opens up. It really does open your head and you can hear your voice and in that moment adjust it. It’s a nice tool."

"But this man right here is so passionate about this project. I’m Mexican-American, so my concern was only job was to stay out of Arizona. Now, I’m looking forward to not only going to Brazil, but having it be a frequent destination. I don’t even fly over it on the plane for fear."

Did you hear the other performances that you're recording against while you were doing your voice work?

Anne Hathaway: "Did you guys get other voices? I did all my stuff with Carlos."

Carlos Saldanha: "I show clips after it's done, but I can’t play it as they are [recording] because we record all different dates. It’s crazy. Then I have to kind of like give them the lame version of the other character as I act it out. It’s very tough because I have to try to deliver the line before. The first session is always the experimental one and then we do many others. They get warmed up, they start to see pictures and images and they start to understand more about the movie. They get more comfortable."

Anne Hathaway: "You're selling yourself short because Jesse brings a certain American neurosis to his performance and you bring a great Brazilian neurosis to your performance."

George Lopez: "That’s it. She nailed it. He’s the bird and the director."

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