Rihanna, Jim Parsons & Steve Martin go ‘Home’ together
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NEW YORK — Even Rihanna, Jim Parsons and Steve Martin laughed when told that before the three of them voiced characters in the “Home” animated film (opening Friday), it’s unlikely their names would appear in the same sentence in any entertainment/celebrity news reports.
“Truer words were never spoken,” quipped Martin, who quickly added he was “more delighted than you can know” to be sitting down with the superstar singer and “Big Bang Theory” TV star to chat about their new DreamWorks Animation flick.
While the three voice actors really didn’t meet until it was time to begin promoting the movie, Rihanna said, “You’d be surprised by how quickly we really became pals. These guys are so talented and funny and nice. … I’m really excited that I got to know them personally.”
Of course, besides sharing fame, the trio also have music in common. Rihanna’s talent is obvious — and she contributed new music to the “Home” soundtrack, as did Jennifer Lopez (who voices her mom in the film), Charlie XCX and Kiesza. Martin is a noted and very skilled banjo player, and Parsons said, “I do play the piano, but not as well as Steve plays the banjo or Rihanna sings and writes music.”
Would forming a band be too far-fetched?
“I begged them,” Parsons said, but with a big wink. “But they were not as eager to join me as I was to join them!”
Serious or not, Rihanna did lean over towards Parsons and looked at him with affection. “I don’t know, I’m kind of warming up to that idea,” she said. (But I think it was all about being nice to a movie co-star!)
Since the movie is animated, I had to ask the three of them what they thought when they first spied the cartoon characters the animators created for them to voice.
Martin said, “I love my little character, Captain Smeg,” who is the self-centered leader of the Boov — the alien creatures who come to Earth to colonize it.
“When I realized he was able to change color to match his mood, like turning red for anger, blue for sadness, et cetera, I thought that was really cool.”
Rihanna had no qualms about saying her Tip character was “simply adorable.” When told that the artists did seem to add a certain “Rihanna-esque” quality to Tip’s look, the singer smiled and agreed. “Yes, she has a little attitude, a little sass. I think they caught that aspect of me very well!”
On top of all that, Rihanna said she still laughs “when I think about the pun they made of her name and nickname.” She was referring to the fact the character’s full name is Gratuity Tucci — nicknamed “Tip.”
“I know it’s just silly, but that Gratuity/Tip thing makes me giggle.”
Since Parsons’ multi-legged, squishable alien is named “Oh,” I asked if voicing this character made him think twice every time he would say the word “oh” in conversation. After all, we all utter “oh” a lot on a regular basis.
“It’s true,” smiled Parsons. “There’s ‘oh yes,’ ‘oh no,’ ‘oh my goodness,’ ‘oh for gosh sakes,’ ‘oh anything,’ because I’m doing so much to talk about the movie these days. Then there’s ‘O! Oprah!’ ”
While Martin has voiced a number of animated films, “Home” was nothing new for him. But besides doing the animated TV film “Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas” (which was “a very quick thing,” said Parsons), the “Big Bang” actor had never before done anything like this, and nor had Rihanna.
“It was a whole new experience for me,” said Rihanna. “I am very comfortable being in front of a microphone, but it’s so different when you’re singing — as opposed to creating a character. But it was fun. Never a dull moment for sure. I love challenges, and this certainly was one. You never get bored doing an animated film.”
As for Martin, he admitted he drew on (excuse the pun) a number of human characters he’s encountered in Hollywood and elsewhere to voice his Captain Smeg, whom he described as “extravagant, selfish, self-centered, narcissistic … a liar. He’s just like show business!” To help create that voice, Martin said, “I used all my show business friends — and a lot of people I’d never call friends!”
Turning serious for a moment, Martin noted that he “liked the fact a parent can take their kid to see this film and feel good and warm and enjoy the total experience.”
While all three of the stars closed by giving a big shout-out to Chicago, Martin was the one who wanted to talk about Our Town the most.
“Chicago is what I used to feel about New York, which is when I land there, I feel immediate excitement. … Yet, I do remember biking along Lake Michigan in the winter — not a good idea, because it was like 30 below. But I wanted to keep my exercise thing going.
“To say the least, it gave me a whole new take on the word ‘commitment.’ ”