On Wednesday, "The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure" opens in theaters nationwide. The brainchild of Kenn Viselman, the man behind the Americanization of popular children's programs "Teletubbies" and "Thomas & Friends," the movie features bulbous-headed creatures, an interactive component that encourages children to sing and dance, and Chazz Palminteri.
Also starring in "Oogieloves" is certifiable acting legend Cloris Leachman, best known for her roles in classics like "Young Frankenstein" and "The Last Picture Show." Moviefone spoke with a very candid (and carefree) Leachman about being a part of the "Oogieloves" project, whether or not movies like this expand her already considerable fan base, and what it was like working with both Mel Brooks and Peter Bogdanovich.
How did you get involved with the project?
I never know the answer to that. I just get a call.
Did you want to do it for a specific reason?
Well, I get to sing and dance a little bit.
You've been in some kids movies before.
Yes. You were in "The Muppet" movie, you were the voice in two different Miyazaki movies -- "Castle in the Sky" and "Ponyo" -- you were in "Iron Giant," "Sky High." What draws you to these movies?
Do you ever think of it as broadening your fanbase?
No. I don't think about that.
When you do these children's films, do you have any inkling about which one is going to be a classic?
Well, you have a feel of it. When we did 'Young Frankenstein,' we knew.
What about something like "Iron Giant?"
You're in a recording studio. I didn't even know the name of it.
Do little kids ever come up to you and recognize you from the things you've done?
My granddaughter has been known to say, 'My grandmother's Cloris Leachman. She's a famous movie star. Do you know Cloris Leachman?' So embarrassing.
What about the interactive element of this movie, did that appeal to you?
Yeah. It's good.
And that must have appealed to the other actors in the movie, too.
I don't know. I just showed up for my day and there were a bunch of little kids and that's it.
Can we talk about some of your earlier films?
We can talk about anything.
What was your experience like on one of your first movies, "Kiss Me Deadly?"
I had done a World War I film and then that was my first real film.
What was the difference?
Well they flew me out to LA from New York and I was four-and-a-half months pregnant and I had to run up and down the highway. I thought, for sure, I was going to have a miscarriage. I had to run really far and long many times in just a raincoat. And they all had fur-lined parkas and shoes, back before fur was unacceptable.
Did you express your concerns to anyone on the movie?
Maybe just talking. I don't know.
That scene is such an unforgettable moment.
Thank you. I had one miscarriage after a thing I had done. It was a television show. I had to run upstairs, get into bed, run down the stairs again -- run, run, run. About six times or more. And I had a miscarriage.
You mentioned "Young Frankenstein." What about it made you feel like it could be special?
Maybe it was the castle. It was so huge. Just so funny. And Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks.
You've worked with Mel Brooks three times now. Was each experience different?
Oh, just a pleasure.
And was that because he keeps the set light and loose or…
No, we're all working hard. He's out there watching and then we come in and talk and then we go back out. It's just that. Total trust.
Another director you've worked with a few times is Peter Bogdonavich. What's it like working with him?
Oh very different. He'll come up to you and [simulates whispering in someone's ear… for a really long time]
Did you like that style?
It's all good.
What was it like shooing "The Last Picture Show" and then the sequel, "Texasville" twenty years later?
Ellen [Burstyn] and I hung out together and we only talked in Texas accents and both of our marriages were falling apart.
This was on "The Last Picture Show?"
Yes. There was a set where "The Last Picture Show" was and then you'd turn the corner and there was this restaurant and we hung out there. That's where we'd sit and wait until we were needed. And the woman who owed it would sit and talk with us. And one time she went to pieces and we thought her husband had left her but it wasn't her husband it was her lover. It was just like a part of the film!
And what was it like coming back for "Texasville"?
It was an entirely different situation because they weren't trying to make "Last Picture Show" again. It was just to answer the question "what happened to everybody?" Just for fun. They did it in color. They didn't attempt to measure the weight or the wonderfulness of it. I thought it was fun to watch.
So you were happy with it?
Yeah. But I was doing "Showboat," live, and I couldn't leave. So I flew down, got there at 4 o'clock in the morning on Sunday, shot, and went back and got there for Tuesday night.
You shot all of your stuff in that block?
Yeah. Well, Jeff [Bridges] wouldn't do it without me. He insisted. After they said, "You can't." He said, "Well, she has to." So I did.
You shot some stuff for "Inglourious Basterds" that didn't make it into the movie. Can you tell me about that?
Well [Quentin Tarantino] says if he writes a sequel to it, that scene will be in it. It was a little scene, maybe in Brooklyn or something, and I was the grandmother to Eli Roth's character.
What's next for you?
Well I'm doing my series ["Raising Hope"], which I can't speak highly enough of. Really funny show. And "Gambit" is coming out.
It got pushed back until next year…
I'm not sure. I'm excited for it, though.
I play Cameron Diaz's grandmother. Colin Firth and she are just excellent.
Cloris from the Fox gallery for "Raising Hope."
'Dark Shadows' Premiere
Cloris Leachman and Johnny Depp at the "Dark Shadows" premiere in Los Angeles.
Best Supporting Actress Oscar 1972
Cloris Leachman winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in "The Last Picture Show" at the 44th Annual Academy Awards® in 1972. Presented by Raquel Welch and Gene Hackman.
'Dark Shadows' Premiere
Cloris Leachman and Michelle Pfeiffer at the "Dark Shadows" premiere in Los Angeles.
'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'
Cloris Leachman, her daughter Dinah Englund and Penny Vizcarra at Elton John's Oscar Party.
Cloris Leachman Calls Betty White A Slut
Cloris Leachman tells Wendy what she really thinks.
'Dancing With The Stars'
Cloris Leachman on 'Raising Hope'
Women In Film Event
Cloris Leachman with Meryl Streep, Penny Vizcarra and Elizabeth Gabler at a Women in Film event.
'The Muppet Show'
'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'
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