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Madagascar - Ben Stiller interview



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. What did you respond to most about playing the lion?
A:
He was a New Yorker, that was what I responded to most. He was a New Yorker who was sort of an actor, I looked at it that way; he did a show in the zoo every day, and loved the adulation of the crowd. It was very much about performing. So that was really how I approached the character.

Q. Did you ever imagine yourself playing a lion as part of your career?
A.
I can’t say that I did. I didn’t ever. I enjoyed it, but it’s not something that I ever thought about.

Q. Did you have much of a say in the way your character progressed?
A:
They showed us pictures before we started. They already had the idea of what the animals were going to look like. They showed us storyboards and everything. I like how Alex looks, he has nice hair, it needs to be blown out but once that’s done it has a nice texture. And then it kind of frizzes out once he’s in the jungle. Which is what happens with that kind of hair.

Q. Can you talk about the special relationship between yourself and Chris? You've wanting to work together for some time, haven't you?
Stiller:
That must have been a joke we made that got out on the internet somewhere.
Rock: We’re going to remake The Last Boy Scout.
Stiller: I think there are some nuances that Bruce Willis missed.
Rock: I’m going to play Damon.
Stiller: We got back at least 15 years, maybe a little more. We’re the same age, both from New York.
Rock: We did Saturday Night Live, though at different times. We almost wrote a movie together.
Stiller: We spent time in a hotel room a long time ago writing that movie. We’re not going to say any more about that. There was a third writer, and when we discovered he carried a gun in his briefcase everything fell apart.
Rock: He’s not making that up. We have a decent relationship.
Stiller: We’ve known each other a long time and when we run into each other we have fun seeing each other.
We don’t hang out together, we live in different cities. It’s one of those nice things. But that contributed to the relationship on screen, because we weren’t ever in the same place. So it was helpful to somehow have some reference point in your head of who you’re talking to.
McGrath: When Chris came on Ben said he’d always wanted to do a movie with him. We had to tell him that we’d be recording them both separately and they would see him at the premiere.

Q. Are you the sort of person in real life who prefers home comforts to being out in the wild?
A.
I like to spend time in a comfortable home environment, especially with having children, young children, it’s good to be home with them. I do like to travel too, though, so I guess I’m sort of an enigma.

Q. How did your kids view Madagascar. Are they your harshest critics?
A:
I have a daughter who’s three, and we have another child on the way. We’ve actually been playing the sound of the movie up against my wife’s belly and the signs are very good. There’s a lot of movement.

Q. Did you observe animals as part of your preparation? And if you could be reincarnated as an animal, what would it be?
A:
I studied the MGM lion, for his roar. The reality is you don’t have to worry about that, these are animals but with human personalities, and since it doesn’t exist yet, I just worried about the character Alex was, and obviously the animators are going to take care of that. That’s the way I approached it.
If I came back as an animal – I don’t know. I like whales. I like maybe the blue whale, that’d be interesting.

Q. When you saw the video of yourself doing the vocals, were you ever surprised to see how animated your vocal performances were?
A:
I definitely realised that, just from hearing playback of it sometimes. Obviously the microphone doesn’t pick up gestures, and I noticed in the movie they did put in a lot of hand gestures, probably to help my voice.
I didn’t like to ever see video, even when they had behind the scenes footage, I don’t like to look at that. When you’re doing it you really want to get outside of thinking about what you look like, because most of the time you look pretty silly if you’re having to do the sound of falling down a hill or talking with sand in your mouth, or something like that. You want to let go of that.

Get to know Alex the Lion:
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Madagascar: Review

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Chris Rock interview

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