Kevin Hart is the irascible “militant” bunny Snowball and Louis C.K. the dog Max in “The Secret Life of Pets” out this week. The Film Strip caught up with the two funny men inside Liberty State Park in New Jersey—not an unusual place for pets to hang out—to talk about their roles.
What went through your minds when you saw the script, even though you knew it was animation?
KEVIN HART: I was excited. This is my first animation film. And nothing gets you more excited than seeing that your character has two sides. They showed me a picture of the bunny when he was very nice and adorable, and then they flipped the page and he was grabbing his ears and he had angry eyes.
They said, ‘Kevin, we want you to bring your personality to this bunny. Give us the cute, cuddly side but at the same time make it believable that this guy can start a revolution and have people follow him.’ I jumped at the opportunity. You [Louis CK] got the second half.
LOUIS C.K.: This movie always made sense to me and that’s why I decided to do it. It’s about a dog living in New York City—I live in New York—and you have this tension between your little home, everybody’s home in New York is small and intimate, and the giant city, the chaos of the city. I always understood Max. Also, dogs are very transparent. They’re easy to read, so I get dogs.
Every time we’d be doing a scene and the dog is desperate for the woman to come home, I totally get it. In a way, when you play another species you can more easily get rid of parts of yourself. Dogs don’t have a timeline in their heads; they don’t have any confidence in the future. They just believe that whatever they’re feeling is what they’ll always feel.
Is it important that your kids be able to see allowed to see you in a film?
CK: It’s nice to make something your kids can watch, that’s a nice thing. My kids can’t see anything I make, except for this.
KH: It is good. You want to have material that your kids can watch, can watch with you and laugh. The other things that I do, I can’t let them watch. There’s some things you want to be able to say they saw it with you. But for the most part, animation is the right way to go and I’m glad that I was able to squeeze one in before they get too old.
Kevin, it has been said that Hollywood is hiding our biggest black actors behind animation and a lot of makeup. Do you feel that Hollywood is really doing that?
KH: I think people will look for any excuse to play the race card in Hollywood. In this day and age, it is what it is. You want it to be more diversified, you want to see more diversity, but a lot of people draw attention to it by talking about it. If you just work and progress, you eventually put yourself into a position where you can help the problem by bringing more people into the business. When you draw negative attention, you’re only going to get a negative response. I don’t believe in adding to it.
I bust my ass and do what I’m supposed to. I’ve been promoting movies internationally now for the last four years. They said movies don’t transfer to black actors internationally. I don’t feed into that. I do what I do. If other people did the same, you’d look up and see more multicultural films being received by so many more people. I would just say, instead of looking for a reason to say, ‘Look at that,’ look at the people who are in those positions and applaud them. Applaud those actors that are in those animated movies, regardless of color of skin. They’re working and creating opportunities for others.
Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]
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