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A Turtle's Tale - Dominic Cooper interview

A Turtle's Tale

Interview by Rob Carnevale

DOMINIC Cooper talks about lending his voice to the role of Sammy in A Turtle’s Tale and getting to grips with the animated process.

He also talks about the film’s environmental themes and forthcoming projects such as Captain America and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Q. What did you like about voicing the character of Sammy in A Turtle’s Tale?
Dominic Cooper: I liked the whole idea of the film itself. I think it’s always quite difficult to find something that an entire family can watch together and enjoy in equal measure. But Sammy’s really sweet as a character. He’s so pathetic at the beginning of his life and he’s constantly in need of help and he learns all the difficulties of life along the way/. It’s a very human story, it’s a very heartfelt story and I think without spoon-feeding kids on how to behave, how to make friends, how to treat people you love and how to treat the world it puts that message across very cleverly. Kids are much more clever than we often give them credit for, so it’s nice to see a film that doesn’t do that.

Q. Did you also like the environmental message?
Dominic Cooper: Yeah, without being too preachy. It comes from director Ben Stassen’s own experience on a trip with his children, so he saw first-hand a group of turtles who were desperately trying to get to the sea but unfortunately a huge hotel had been built and put in the way. So, that came from a real place. Even when I watched it for the first time the other day… it’s in the back of our minds and we’re aware of it but I think you don’t watch yourself continually in life, or the effects that you’re actions have on the environment and the sea. I think for kids to be made aware of something like that at such a young age is a wonderful thing.

Q. How did you take to the animated process?
Dominic Cooper: I’ve actually done something recently where I’ve had to do a lot of work without reacting or responding to another actor because I was playing a part opposite myself [in The Devil’s Double], so I was kind of in a good place to be able to not need that help. The wonderful thing is that you’re normally interacting with a fellow actor and therefore you’re inspired and you can build your performance from that. But with animation you’re trying to bring life to something, which actually doesn’t have any.

Having said that, animation is now so advanced and looks so wonderful and 3D technology is so brilliant that you get a firm understanding of what the director is portraying through the facial expressions. So, that makes it easier. But you don’t get to interact with the other sea creatures, which is hard. But it’s another way of working. You have to make a fool of yourself and go as far as possible. I was amazed by how far you could go and how big and bold you had to be to get that expression across and to make it believable, real and heartfelt.

Q. Did you find yourself jumping around a bit then?
Dominic Cooper: Yeah, you really have to do that because it really helps. Otherwise, it can stagnate and you have to find the energy. It’s a different form of acting because you’re not thinking about all the other things that you’re constantly thinking about on a film set such as: “Have I reached the right spot? Am I hitting the mark? Am I blocking their light?” There are all these very technical things that you’re thinking about when making a film, whereas with this you’re just expressing yourself vocally and allowing the animation to take care of the facial expressions and reactions. It’s their eyes, the animators, who are dealing with those things, so you just have to find a voice that’s real and appropriate.

I’ve got used to this, after having been out of drama school for 10 years now and working… but I’ve just got used to hearing the revolting tones of my own voice. I love it when people actually get to hear their own voice played back on their answering machine or something and they find it revolting because we’re so unused to hearing what we actually sound like. So, it’s finding something that you feel comfortable hearing and that you think fits this cute character. He’s much cuter than me! There are other actors in this who have just a few lines, but you can hear the character in their voice. It’s amazing how it pings out when you’re not seeing the actor visually.

Q. Your career has been amazing to this point, but now you’re entering blockbuster territory with Captain America this summer and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter about to go into production. So, what can we expect from those?
Dominic Cooper: [Smiles] Well, I don’t know what to expect. I’m about to start filming Abraham Lincoln but I think it’s going to be wonderful. The director, Timur Bekmambetov, is terribly inspiring and I have a great part. It’s going to be a lot of action, but there’s a really clever underlying theme to that film as well.

With Captain America, it’s going to be madness! But I loved making it and, again, Howard Stark is a really fantastic character. To be a part of the Marvel world is really cool as well. So, I don’t know exactly what to expect but they’re both fun projects and I feel really lucky to be a part of them.

Read our review of A Turtle’s Tale

Read our interview with Gemma Arterton