Moviefone recently sat down at a roundtable discussion with the stars of the upcoming 'Smurfs' movie. After speaking with Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria and Tim Gunn, we were able to discover how tall a Smurf is, whether Smurfette has given birth to the entire Smurf population, and if "Smurf blue" is going to become the new "it" color this fall.
So Smurfette has seemingly given birth to an entire Smurf population? Can you clear that up?
Where do you come up with this? Where do you get this idea that Smurfette is some sort of hussy!?
She seems to be the promiscuous one -- just trying to clear up rumors.
Promiscuous one! (laughter) I want to know what Smurfs you were watching growing up.
How tricky was it dealing with the green screen aspect of the movie?
I always wanted to do one of those big hysterical tennis-balls-on-sticks-while-they're-chasing-you-around-kind of movies, but this was not that. The technology now is in actual sets and you rehearse it with these sort of gelatinous, jelly-mold Smurfs that are on stands, so when you're rehearsing it, they set them up in various positions so you know exactly where they would be and you know the exact height. It was a really weird unique acting style because it's super story-boarded, and yet, you have to match everything and you have to deal with these points of focus all over the place.
So how tiny is a Smurf?
It's three apples tall.
What kind of apples?
I think Red Delicious -- or Blue Delicious in this case. I thought they'd be smaller. I was assuming them to be the size of a GI Joe.
When they first approached you to make a big screen version of a beloved cartoon, did you think "this is great" or "this is heresy, you can't do that"?
I thought it was great. I think it's great when you can do a movie for a 10-year-old or a 15-year-old and there's also a secondary level of humor for adults.
The cartoon is so sweet; will there be adult "wink-wink"-type humor to update it for modern audiences?
This is a family movie but skewed an awful lot towards the core audience of people who watched the Smurfs growing up. The 20-40-year-old set is supposed to get a lot out of it as opposed for it just being for kids. They go from "happy happy" Smurf village to Central Park, New York City, so there's a lot of juxtaposition between angry New Yorkers and happy Smurfs. You'll see them trying to make everyone pleased and get beat down a little bit. It's the Smurfs emotional smack down.
There will probably be a big toy market for the Smurfs after this movie. Have you been fitted for your action figure? Is their going to be a toy of you?
Hilarious, I haven't even thought about that. There probably won't be. It'll probably be all Smurfs and then a Gargamel and an Azrael, and that will probably be it.
How would you describe Gargamel.
He's Gargamel. What else can you say about him? He hates Smurfs and wants to conquer the world. He's a Virgo. He loves watersports.
How did you develop the voice?
To me this voice was just a classic cartoon-villain voice that I just felt should have a life. I didn't really aim for it to be similar to the Paul Winchell American Gargamel, but it is. Especially when I yell "SMURRRRRFS!" It's really Gargamel.
It's totally diabolical.
Yeah. Actually, at first I tried to back off all that. I wanted to make him more sarcastic than rage-full, which we do in a lot of places to give it another color, but you can't play Gargamel and not scream and yell and go "Muah-ha-ha-ha ..." You have to do it. I tried to get out of it, but you can't.
Why is Gargamel so Smurf-fixated?
We see him aspiring to be those wonderful sorcerers you see in 'Harry Potter.' In the cartoon, it varied, sometimes he wanted to eat them, sometimes he wanted just to kill them because he hated them and sometimes he wanted to extract their essence for his magical purposes. We have chosen the latter ... It's kinda like he broke off from the Academy, they laughed at him at the Academy, like "Smurfs are not the way to be a great wizard." [Gargamel voice] "No, they are the way! I'm telling you, they're magical. If you can capture their essence, you'll be the most powerful sorcerer in the world." He spent years chasing this dream down, and he can't find the Smurfs. For years, he can never get them, so that's why he's so crazed.
How much fun has it been to get out of the audio booth for this?
It's funny. It is like voicing a character, except I'm in it; it's like working a mask, almost. Normally I don't like to look at playback of tapes because it makes me so self-conscious, but in this job, early on I found I kinda had to because it's almost like doing kabuki. You can't just show up and honestly react. I'm used to just doing vocal, but I have animate myself for the shot.
Are there other action-fantasy films that are geared toward children that you loved as a kid that you hope this will emulate for younger people today?
There's definitely times where I feel like the Child Catcher in 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,' especially when I'm really getting evil with the Smurfs. My nose is, I even sniff them out at one point, and that definitely reminded me of Child Catcher, but this hopefully is funnier than that.
When Bob Hoskins did 'Roger Rabbit,' he said he was starting to hallucinate after a while, acting with nothing. Are you having the same sort of problem?
Yeah, a little bit. I'm used to it, because of years on 'The Simpsons.' Sometimes, you know, the scene's not even there -- you're imagining the whole thing ... to give a proper vocal performance, you have to pretty much physicalize it.
What do you do in this picture?
I'm the executive assistant to Sofia Vergara's character, she's with a cosmetic company called Mogul. I'm her right hand, so I do her bidding and do whatever she needs me to do.
What kind of boss is she?
Very demanding, she wants what she wants and she's going to get it
Is she a villain?
I wouldn't call her a villain, she is a driven executive and she sees an opportunity for her company that will cut out all the competition and she wants to realize that opportunity. So she's driven as opposed to evil.
Does this represent a new career direction for you?
No! Trust me.
From a fashion prospective, what do you think of Smurf blue? Do you think everyone needs a little blue dress?
I think Smurf blue is going to be a phenomenon in the seasons following the movie.
What about Smurfette? What are her looks?
You know, she only has one look and, yeah, it's limiting, and I think I'd love to be part of the Smurfette wardrobe design and give her some options.
*Movie images courtesy of Sony
*Tim Gunn image courtesy of Getty