The Angry Birds Movie
Wednesday 31st August 2016
In the 3D animated comedy, The Angry Birds Movie, we'll finally find out why the birds are so angry.
The movie takes us to an island populated entirely by happy, flightless birds - or almost entirely. In this paradise, Red (Jason Sudeikis, We're the Millers, Horrible Bosses), a bird with a temper problem, speedy Chuck (Josh Gad in his first animated role since Frozen), and the volatile Bomb (Danny McBride, This is the End, Eastbound and Down) have always been outsiders. But when the island is visited by mysterious green piggies, it's up to these unlikely outcasts to figure out what the pigs are up to.
Featuring a hilarious, all-star voice cast that includes Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, Sisters), Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live, Ghostbusters), Sean Penn (Milk, Mystic River), Tony Hale (Veep, Arrested Development), Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele), with Bill Hader (Trainwreck, Inside Out), and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), as well as Ike Barinholtz (Neighbors, Sisters), Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Hannibal Buress (Daddy's Home, Broad City), Jillian Bell (22 Jump Street), YouTube stars Smosh (Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla), Billy Eichner (Billy on the Street), Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black), Latin music sensation Romeo Santos, and country music superstar Blake Shelton, who co-writes and performs the original song "Friends". The film also features brand new music from Demi Lovato, Charli XCX, Matoma, and Steve Aoki. The Columbia Pictures/Rovio Animation presentation is directed by Fergal Reilly and Clay Kaytis and produced by John Cohen and Catherine Winder. The screenplay is by Jon Vitti, and executive produced by Mikael Hed and David Maisel.
Columbia Pictures and Rovio Animation present The Angry Birds Movie. Featuring the voices of Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Kate McKinnon, Sean Penn, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, with Bill Hader and Peter Dinklage. Directed by Fergal Reilly and Clay Kaytis. Produced by John Cohen and Catherine Winder. Executive Producers are Mikael Hed and David Maisel. Screenplay by Jon Vitti. Music by Heitor Pereira. Animation by Sony Pictures Imageworks.
In December 2009, people around the world downloaded a game to their phones and started a phenomenon. Little green piggies had invaded, intent on stealing the eggs of some flightless birds - and these birds were... well, there's only one word for it. How would you feel if someone came to your home and took your kids?
The most downloaded mobile game of all time - Angry Birds and their various editions have been downloaded over three billion times - comes to the big screen and moviegoers will finally learn how the Angry Birds got their name.
According to producer John Cohen (Despicable Me), the classic game was a great starting point for the movie the filmmakers wanted to make. "Inside the game's core concept were the seeds of what we believed could grow into a fantastic animated comedy", he says. "We had the chance to expand on the game characters, developing the birds into fully fleshed out characters with distinct personalities and fun, unique powers. But there's also a strong, emotional idea at the center of the movie: at the heart of the games is a story of angry birds who have had their eggs - their children - taken by these green piggies. And the birds must launch a search-and-rescue operation to get their kids back."
Working with the Rovio team, the filmmakers developed and expanded the basic ideas from the game. "The question Rovio gets asked more often than anything else is, 'Why are the birds so angry?'" says Cohen. "This movie is the origin story of how that conflict came to exist between flightless birds and green piggies. It was an incredibly fun opportunity to create a mythology for the Angry Birds universe. Billions of people have a close personal connection to the games, but the games didn't really have a backstory that was set in stone. Our playing field was wide open - as if we were starting from scratch with an original idea. Of course, there were certain important elements that fans know and love from the games - angry flightless birds, with special powers that people will recognize, fighting green piggies, who have stolen their eggs, using a slingshot - but beyond those ideas, we were able to create an original story."
In fact, Clay Kaytis, who directs the film with Fergal Reilly, says that the built-in audience of the game allowed them to subtly subvert audiences' expectations. "People assume they know what the movie is going to be because they've played the game", he says, "but the truth is, we're creating something that is going to surprise people when they see it. As filmmakers, we're making a movie that we would want to go see."
So, out of the basic premise of the game, the filmmakers created a new story - a character-based comedy. "Red is certainly an angry bird, and Chuck and Bomb have their problems, but actually, they're just a bunch of misfits", says Reilly. "You really care about these guys - because not only do they have their own problems to deal with, but then they're dealt the larger problem of the pigs. They have to save their civilization, even though they're the most unlikely guys you could ever pick."
Cohen adds that Red's mission to manage his anger is a theme that everyone in the audience can relate to. "Every parent and every kid learns to find a way to work through those tough moments in their lives", says Cohen. "I think a lot of kids will identify with Red as he finds a way to channel that energy in a positive direction."
As the characters took shape on the page, it came time for the filmmakers to cast the actors who would bring them to life. "When an actor comes into a recording booth to perform, they are stripped of all of the tools in their repertoire - they no longer have their physicality, facial expressions, any movements or gestures, other actors to play against - they are left with only their voice", says Cohen. "Great improvisational comedic actors, like Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Maya Rudolph, Danny McBride, Keegan-Michael Key or Kate McKinnon, are able to not only come up with terrific observational comedy ideas, but by doing that, they give their performance a very naturalistic feel, which really helps to bring these characters to life in animation."
"It's a magical moment when you hear these actors for the first time in their characters", says executive producer Mikael Hed. "That's when the characters start to properly come to life. The actors inject part of their personality into the characters, and they become so much more real than they've ever been before that."
The first conversations about turning Angry Birds into a movie began back in 2011 with Hed and David Maisel. Executive producer David Maisel, who had previously been the founder of Marvel Studios and an architect of its plans to begin a slate of movies including Iron Man, Thor and Captain America was looking for a new challenge. "I had purchased my 80-year-old mother an iPad, and one day, I heard her swearing at some pigs", he recalls. "I got very intrigued - this game is played by kids, by their parents, by their grandparents. It's one of the few things in culture today that people of all different generations share."
Maisel contacted Mikael Hed, the founder of Rovio and now executive producer of the movie. "I got a phone call from Hollywood, asking whether they could create a movie around Angry Birds. And that was really the first time that it dawned on me that a movie could really actually happen. That was the starting shot for this adventure."
When John Cohen, who previously shepherded Despicable Me to the screen, heard that Hed and Maisel were contemplating a movie adaptation, he contacted Maisel immediately. Cohen said, "Once I was on board, I learned that I was actually the very first person to call David expressing my passion for producing The Angry Birds Movie. I had personally spent countless hours playing the Angry Birds games, which I can now happily justify as research for the movie."
To produce the film, Rovio created Rovio Animation, which would retain creative control over the characters and self-finance the motion picture. In this way, Rovio could ensure that the core elements that audiences love about Angry Birds would make their way into the final film. In 2012, Hed, Mikko Polla (a creative executive at Rovio) and Cohen collaborated to develop the film's original story.
Building an animation studio from scratch brought together a wide variety of some of the top talent working in animation. Cohen, Hed and Maisel first hired screenwriter Jon Vitti, who is a "Simpsons" all-star, having written many episodes of the long-running series and collaborating on The Simpsons Movie, and who worked with Cohen on the Ice Age franchise, the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise, and Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! Cohen then brought Catherine Winder onboard to produce the film with him. Winder had previously served as an executive at Twentieth Century Fox Animation and worked under George Lucas to take the Star Wars brand into animation.
For Maisel, combining this core group's sensibilities that contributed to these diverse successes is one of the ways that The Angry Birds Movie sets itself apart as an entertainment that spans the generations. In 2013, Sony Pictures came on board as the distribution partner.
Winder says that one of the most exciting parts of taking on the challenge of bringing Angry Birds to the screen was the fact that so many people had a connection to the game. "Angry Birds has a 91% awareness around the world", she says. "Everybody knows who these characters are, so the expectations are high. So our aspirations had to be high; we want to make sure the fans around the world are happy with this movie."
In every way, The Angry Birds Movie is the culmination of a long-term plan to expand the game onto the big screen. Though the graphic characters from the game have been featured in other media, such as Angry Birds Toons, the movie takes the franchise to epic new levels. For example, Rovio made the conscious decision never to show the birds speaking, or having wings and legs - until now. "Rovio went to great lengths to protect that origin story, so that we would be telling it for the first time in this movie", says Maisel.
For these birds' home, the goal once again was to build on the foundation of the game, to but to create a full, lush, visually rich environment, one that production designer Pete Oswald calls "stylized with a touch of realism" and, for fans of the game, "familiar, yet unexpected." "We wanted to bring a new dimension to the world of Angry Birds - from the look of the film to the colour to the textures to the animation, we could build on the story and the comedy that the writer laid down."
Of course, the filmmakers built two major locations - the lush, organic world of Bird Island, and the off-kilter, teetering world of Pig Island. And into these worlds, the artists were able to let their comic imaginations fly. "There's a ton of visual jokes", says Oswald.
"We had two things going for us - the basic comedic premise of a clash of two cultures, and how the birds became angry", says Reilly. "Jon Vitti grabbed that premise and wrote a very funny script. And when you're willing to embrace the silly business of that premise, it's easier to create really funny, engaging characters. The key that unlocked the story for us was the relationship between Red, Chuck and Bomb."
Red is an angry bird. He lives on Bird Island, a world populated with the most naively happy characters imaginable - so, needless to say, Red doesn't fit in. The birds' cheery, carefree lives are in stark contrast to Red's own: he has few friends, preferring to live alone on the outskirts of town, wearing his crankiness, sarcasm, and aloof attitude on his sleeve. However, when the pigs arrive and begin to implement their secret plot, only Red will have the courage and nerve to ask the questions others are reluctant to ask.
Red has a habit of letting his emotions get the better of him. "Every day, we find ourselves in situations in which others try our patience", Cohen explains. "Maybe it's that guy in line at the coffee shop who's standing a little too close behind you, or the person sitting next to you in the movie theater who's sneezing and coughing through the whole film, and is probably going to get you sick. You or I would deal with those situations in a socially acceptable way, but Red has his own, unique way of handling it - he says and does the things that we wish we could. He's simply a guy who doesn't possess the same social skills that come more naturally to other people. And over the course of the movie, you begin to understand just why this guy is so angry."
To play the role, the filmmakers turned to Jason Sudeikis. "Jason Sudeikis was perfect for this role. When you have a character like Red, who's a bit of a cranky curmudgeon, it's very helpful to have an actor like Jason - who can't help but be likeable - playing him. Even when he's saying and doing some very angry things. But most importantly, Jason is an incredibly gifted actor", says Cohen. "Not only has he shaped Red as a character, he's given him a deliciously cranky sense of humour and embodied him with a real soul. Over the course of the story, the audience falls in love with Red as they begin to understand why he's so angry."
"He's angry from the jump", says Sudeikis of his character. "He sees himself as the wise man on a ship of fools. He's a contrarian, a little frustrated, the black sheep. He definitely sticks out for what seems like the wrong reasons at the beginning, but it turns out that he might be on to something."
"At the beginning of the film, Red is the sole angry bird", says Sudeikis. "But, obviously, the title is a bit of a spoiler, because as it turns out, there's more than one angry bird. And exactly how that happens is what we get to discover in the course of the story."
"The key to playing such an angry character is to get a lot of parking tickets", says Sudeikis. "Before I recorded, I'd come out to my car, find a big, expensive parking ticket, and I would be perfectly in character."
Joining Red on his campaign against the bad piggies are Chuck and Bomb - also outcasts with anger issues on an island where it seems that almost every bird is happy - all of whom have ended up in an anger management class.
Chuck is fast. He moves fast and talks fast - sometimes quicker than he thinks, which lands him in a lot trouble. But there's genuinely a good bird behind his motorbeak, intent on making friends, and when Red needs a hand, he's among the first to volunteer.
Chuck is brought to life by Josh Gad, whose most recent animated film role was as Olaf, the snowman longing for bright summer days in Frozen. "Chuck is almost the polar opposite of Olaf", says Cohen. "Where Olaf was sweet, innocent and child-like, Chuck has a real edge. He doesn't have any kind of filtering mechanism, always puts his foot in his mouth, and has a real comedic bite to him. Josh Gad has created a fantastic character - and just like Chuck, Josh has an incredibly quick mind. He's one of the best improvisers in the world."
"Chuck does everything at a million miles per hour", says Gad. "Everything - running, flying, talking... it was a lot of effort playing Chuck. Of course, since this is an animated movie all the action is in my mind, so I was mentally exhausted all the time."
"Chuck is truly one of the most exhausting characters I've ever played", Gad continues. "He's a mile a minute and his mouth is going faster than his brain can compute things. So after playing him, I liked to take a warm bath. I'm a method actor, so I would come home from a long night of working and my wife would say, 'Hey sweetie, do you want to watch something?' and I'd say, 'NO! CAN'T YOU SEE I PLAYED CHUCK ALL DAY? I'M EXHAUSTED!' But she knows that I love her and it was just the character talking."
Though the actors recorded their parts separately, Gad says that he went above and beyond to help ensure that the characters had an on-screen chemistry. "I studied episodes of 'Saturday Night Live' and 'Eastbound and Down' to try to really understand my co-stars, Sudeikis, Hader and McBride", he says. "I also printed cardboard cutouts of them and held numerous conversations and even tried playing boardgames with them, which proved very unsuccessful. The McBride cutout in particular was very uncooperative."
Bomb is a bit of dim bulb with a big heart. He's amiable and considerate - most of the time. But he's got a problem: he suffers from Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED). If he gets surprised, or scared, or angry - kaboom. He has a tendency to literally blow up. He's always yearned to control himself but found self-constraint just out of reach. When the pigs arrive, however, his condition might be just what the doctor ordered.
"Bomb is proud of his ability to blow up, but he's not fully in control of it", Cohen says. "He has a bit of performance anxiety, and that's a source of some struggle for him."
And though Bomb's disorder is played for laughs, IED is no joke - you can look it up in your DSM-5.
Playing the role is Danny McBride, whose screen persona seems to be a perfect fit. "All of Danny's characters - from The Foot-Fist Way to Pineapple Express to This Is the End to 'Eastbound and Down' - are such great expressions of comedic anger. They all possess a deep-rooted desire to be accepted and liked, but they also have some emotion just below the surface that at any moment could burst through to wreak comedic havoc", says Cohen. "The only difference is that Bomb literally explodes, rather than metaphorically."
"Like Red and Chuck, Bomb is angry; he's also a bird, too", McBride says. "He has an explosive personality. He explodes when he gets angry. And he wants to improve. He's embarrassed that he can't control his anger, and he wants to focus it."
"Bomb is actually a pretty laid-back, fun-loving guy", McBride continues. "But any little thing can set him off. He's a tough guy to make microwave popcorn around."
And how does McBride - he of the famously explosive characters - deal with anger? "I've never been angry in my life", he says. Riiiiiiiight.
Matilda was once an angry bird herself. Now reformed, and donning a Zen, peaceful exterior, she uses her experience to help others by leading an anger management class. However, all of the birds will learn that Matilda still harbors an inner rage that will come out at the worst - or best - possible moment.
"Maya Rudolph is so terrific at playing both sides of Matilda", says Cohen. "There's a warmth that comes through in each of Maya's characters - they're always very relatable. That's what I see in her portrayal of Matilda as she juggles the desire to help others with her unresolved need to help herself. That's the emotion that's buried underneath."
"Matilda is a bubbly lady who really tries hard to find the positive in these fairly difficult students that she has to work with", says Rudolph. "Nothing really stops her - she's having her own party, pretty much 24-7. And even though things could really get her down, she's kind of got her Zen inner qualities that allow her to have as much patience as possible. But there's definitely an undercurrent, where she's just hanging on by a thread. Maybe she really needs this anger management practice as well."
Leonard is the leader of the pigs, the one who launches the birds' beef against the pork. Proud, egomaniacal, and vain, Leonard's a real pig, so no wonder that he ruffles Red's feathers a bit.
Bill Hader takes the role of this porcine principal. "Leonard is super charismatic - so charming that he wins over the birds straight away", says Reilly. "Bill created a voice that had authority, but also charm - a showman personality. Bill has a velvety quality to his voice - warm and super funny - so when Leonard arrives on Bird Island, he wins the birds over effortlessly."
Regarding Leonard's distinctive cadence in speaking, Hader says, "My first recording session for the movie was really trying to figure out the voice. The filmmakers were saying they wanted it to be like Robert Preston in 'The Music Man' - a kind of a huckster. We started there, and then because Leonard is a big, round pig, the voice sort of became this Southern man."
Hader describes the plot of the film this way: "The movie's about this pig named Leonard who finds this island with these birds on it, and rightfully, he should have their eggs, but apparently, they don't want him to have their eggs. There's one bird, Red, played by Jason Sudeikis, who figures out Leonard's plan to get the eggs - which is crazy not cool, because Leonard has every right in the world to have those eggs - and the birds start this awful mission against him."
The Mighty Eagle is a towering legend on Bird Island. Literally - his statue dominates everything else on the island. But no one has seen him in years and some birds are starting to doubt that he ever really existed. But when Red, Chuck, and Bomb have nowhere else to turn, they have nothing to lose as they seek out the advice of this mysterious leader.
Peter Dinklage plays the hero. "Peter Dinklage is a great comedic actor", says Kaytis. "He brings his great, booming voice to the Mighty Eagle."
"Mighty Eagle is the big, mythical hero on Bird Island, although he's getting a little old and not in as great shape as he used to be. When we meet him, the only shape he's in is round", explains Dinklage. "He's a recluse, past his heyday, and he's going to teach the younger birds how to be heroes."
In the supporting roles are an all-star cast of the most talented comedic actors in the world, including Kate McKinnon, Keegan-Michael Key, Tony Hale, Tituss Burgess, Ike Barinholtz, Hannibal Buress, Jillian Bell, Billy Eichner, Danielle Brooks, Latin music sensation Romeo Santos, and YouTube stars Smosh (Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla).
"I play Judge Peckinpah", says Key. "He's the one that sentences Red to the anger management class where Red meets the rest of the gang. It was a great role for me, because I'm very judgmental. I watch a lot of daytime court TV shows, so I was more than prepared for this role."
Though the judge at first appears to be a very tall bird, he's harboring a secret - he's actually a little guy standing on another bird to gain a more impressive stature.
"Keegan created a character for the Judge who was very appealing and funny, but also had an attitude about himself as the most prominent bird on the island", says Reilly. "Keegan's mind can dance around different ideas for the character - it was a joy to watch and so much fun, I had a pain in my stomach from laughing so hard."
"This project was so crazy fun", says Hale, who voices three different characters. "My three characters are all very neurotic...but just different places on the overall neurotic spectrum."
Burgess, who plays Photog, gives the honest truth about what it's like to voice a role: "Working on an animated film was really better than I expected", says Burgess. You know what my favourite part is?" Conspiratorially, he whispers: "It's. Not. Really. Work."
In addition to the hilarious performances by some of the biggest names in comedy, The Angry Birds Movie is loaded with fun, original musical performances to the film.
Country superstar Blake Shelton not only co-wrote and performs the original song "Friends", but also voices a role in the movie, as Earl, a cowboy pig.
Shelton says that when he was approached to do the song, he was excited by the challenge of writing for a film - something he's never done before. "John Cohen showed me some key scenes, which told me the story and what the movie was going to look like and the story", says Shelton. "I left the meeting feeling so excited - I wanted to take a crack at it. It was a challenge - my friend Jessi Alexander and I had to write a universal piece of music that would fit the overall scope of the movie and the story, but also needed to be specific to this scene. We figured out a way to make all of that work! Jessi and I are still walking around with our heads in the clouds - not only that this opportunity came my way, but that we were able to come up with the perfect song for that scene."
"One of the very first things John was able to show me was his idea of what my character would look like, and I was pretty much hooked from that point on", Shelton continues. "Here's this fat green pig that had on chaps, cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat. But the thing that sealed the deal for me was that they had put in my tattoo on this pig - but they had taken the time to replace the deer tracks with bird tracks. They put a lot of thought into it."
"Blake Shelton's song 'Friends' has two very important meanings", says Cohen. "Of course, it's the song that the pigs sing to the birds when they show up on their island and try to lull the birds into trusting them and being their friends. But more importantly, it beautifully sums up the central relationship of this entire movie - chronicling the unlikely friendship that develops between Red, Chuck and Bomb. It's extraordinary that Blake and Jessi were able to write lyrics that so perfectly serve both the immediate and larger story of the film, and it is also just a fantastic song!"
Pop star Charli XCX joins in with "Explode", electro house musician Steve Aoki provides the new track for a rave scene, Matoma's "Wonderful Life" is featured, and the audience will get up and dance as Demi Lovato brings down the house with her brand new rendition of the classic "I Will Survive." "Demi Lovato's brand-new rendition of the classic 'I Will Survive' is so fantastic", says Cohen. "She's managed to reinvent the song while also honoring and paying tribute to the original."
For the animation team at Sony Pictures Imageworks, the primary challenge was the immense scope of the film. In contrast to the game, famous for its graphic characters and simple backdrops, the filmmakers sought to design characters and a world that were rich in detail and worthy of a feature film.
The first challenge was to make the transition with the characters from the flat, graphic icons to fully formed characters that could be animated in three dimensions on the big screen. "The characters in the game are really simple. They don't walk or talk. I had to bring some complexity to these characters, so they could live up on the screen", says character art director Francesca Natale, who designed most of the major characters. "The goal was to find a character that could be complex enough to perform for the film but still feel recognizable for the audience and three billion fans."
Red, naturally, is a good example of a character who had to make the transition. Even before a computer model could be built, Natale did 100 possible designs for Red with ink and paint. "We had so much to figure out - at the beginning, it was whether the birds should look like real birds or if they should have a more anthropomorphic feel. The first drawings were very far from where we ended up. But you never want to limit or censor yourself - it could happen that during the process you'll find things that you'd never have thought about before on purpose."
In the end, it was determined that Red (and the other characters) would indeed be more anthropomorphic than looking like real birds. "We found a design of a bird-like creature, with the feeling of a bird", explains Natale. "The stance, the acting, and the look of the character all look anthropomorphic. Similarly, they don't have actual wings, instead, they have arms that have the feel and look of wings in the silhouette and shape."
The pigs presented a challenge that was similar in some respects - to translate the graphic icons into fully-formed characters - but entirely different in another: there are tons of pigs, and the question became whether they should be all the same or different. After all, the numerous pigs seem to move together like a hive, all working toward the same purpose. "We finally chose to make them unique", Natale recalls. "When you look at them as a mass of characters, they should move as one unit, but getting closer, each one has a very distinctive personality and a very specific role."
When a final design was realized, Natale turned over her work to Leo Sanchez Barbosa, a digital sculpture artist, who translated her two-dimensional drawings into 3D objects. In the end, over 130 distinct birds and over 100 pigs deliver the action.
For Visual Effects Supervisor Danny Dimian, the simple design of the pigs was one of the greatest challenges faced by the digital artists. "It's deceptively hard to get very simple things right", says Dimian. "Francesca and Clay were very clear that they wanted the pigs to have very smooth forms, very clean shapes - and also that the pigs would have to have a very wide acting range. However, the simpler a character is, the more the audience can notice every imperfection and every change in that shape. So our characters had to transition these simple, clean shapes in crazy animation. As a result, our rigs are actually very complicated - even though the pigs look simple, underneath, they have a very complicated, sophisticated model that required a lot of technology. It was an impressive thing to achieve."
Of course, the challenge wasn't always hidden underneath. "For the birds, we pushed our feather system", Dimian continues. "Again, the birds have very simple designs, but their material properties are very complicated. So the questions kept coming: where do we put feathers? Where do we put fur? How do we groom these characters? To keep them simple, but also appealing, fluffy, bird-like creatures, was quite a challenge."
Animation Supervisor Pete Nash says that the filmmakers didn't take it easy - often planning large, complicated shots with many animated characters moving all at once. "When I came on board, they showed me some early storyboards, so I knew it would be a very ambitious project", says Nash. "For me, the main challenge was the pure scope of the movie. I knew there were going to be lots of characters on screen at all times - large, complicated shots with many characters moving all at once. For example, there's one sequence in which the pigs steal all of the eggs - it's an orchestrated heist, the pigs are running all over, and it's all choreographed in a very complex way - with 50 to 100 characters on screen at any one time. The whole movie is filled with shots like that - it was going to be epic, and the epic-ness was the fun challenge."
As Red is the central character, Nash's group gave him careful focus. Naturally, Red's anger played a big part in the way the animators brought him to life. "When you're animating, the first thing you ask is what's the motivation?" Nash explains. Through some trial and error, he says, they found that a little anger goes a long way - choosing an understated approach after first going very broad. "We did some early tests with Red in which we played with concepts - quick cuts, almost like a spaghetti western, with cuts to his eyebrows, cuts to his fist clenching, cuts to his toes clenching, cuts to his teeth grinding. Later, we ended up abandoning that for a much more subtle take. I actually videotaped myself; I tried to imagine myself boiling over in frustration, and acted that out, and tried to take the subtle clues that I saw: very small facial twitches, the way your neck stiffens up as your head rolls around."
With Jason Sudeikis cast in the role, the filmmakers also looked to video reference to inform the performance. "It wasn't only what he did while he recorded his lines, but we also looked at his comedy in general", says Nash. "We saw the little things he does - like when he says something that's sarcastic, he'll do it with a smile on his face. It's part of his charm, his appeal. We borrowed that for Red."
With Chuck, by contrast, there was no need to be so subtle. "Chuck is the most pushed character in the film, because his power is super-speed. Josh Gad performs him like someone with ADD - talking a mile a minute, changing ideas in mid-thought - so we tried to treat his animation that way. We tried to cram as many ideas as possible into the performance as we could. We could do things like an impossible pose change without worrying about the actual mechanics of getting there. It was surprising how many ideas we ended up putting into his performance."
With Bomb, the animators' challenge was the best way to express Bomb's challenge, which is thinking complex thoughts. "Bomb's tries so hard to think", says Nash. "We really exaggerated him trying to think, hand on the chin, pursing his lips, crunching his eyebrows down, eyes darting around. And then we could show that even though he's trying very hard, it's producing no results."
As for Bomb's ability to blow up, Nash explains, "It's like someone building up with pressure. He never wants to explode. He doesn't have control over it. He's trying really hard to hold it back. And then at the last second, we have his eyeballs suddenly bulge, the dam bursts, and then he explodes."
Matilda provided yet another challenge. "In the beginning, she's new age, touchy-feely, always trying to be overly pleasant, so we wanted her movement to be overly graceful and fluid and perfect", Nash recalls. "But then, because she's actually harboring a deep anger herself, you'd see a quick flash of a demonic face - snap - and then she'd be back to her extremely pleasant self in an instant."
The overall look of the film was designed by Pete Oswald, the film's production designer. "His task was huge. Honestly, this is the biggest movie I've ever worked on, in terms of scope", says Kaytis, who knows something about big projects, having headed animation on Tangled. "It has two civilizations. The bird community has 130 unique characters, not accounting for the supporting crowds of characters. And there are thousands of pigs. The style is pushed, the lighting is pushed, the colour choices not standard, real-world lighting. It's all very designed, and Pete's hand is behind it all. He brought a whimsical and comedic flair, creating the universe that the Angry Birds live in."
Oswald says that because the characters themselves have more basic designs, the filmmakers had the opportunity to make the world they inhabit very real and complicated. "The film is very stylized with a touch of realism. We wanted to design a film that was familiar, yet unexpected. So, the shapes in our film are very bold and exaggerated, and some are really cartoony. But we textured them with real-life materials - for example, the bark of the trees have a bird feather motif. It harks back to the fact that the birds are flightless and have never been off the island."
The colour palette, too, was designed to reference the real world. "The colour palette of the game is very simple - primary colours", says Oswald, "So for the film, we chose a colour palette that was sophisticated, naturalistic, and bold. The birds were the most important part of the colour palette - the birds had to pop and contrast against the backgrounds. Red, in particular, because he's the main character - his hue is very specific; none of the other birds have that specific hue of red. When you're shooting a giant crowd shot, you know exactly where Red is."
One of those giant crowd shots comes early in the film as Red exits the court and walks down Main Street. "We get to see the entire scope of the village through this sequence", says Oswald. "You're tracking him as he's walking through the village. My department created the designs of the village - we did some sketches, then paintings, worked with pre-viz to mock up some of our designs, and we'd figure out how far apart the huts had to be to play the scene in the right tempo and we could fit in all of the gags. It also had to feel like a small town, so there was a lot of discussion about how wide Main Street should be - too wide, and it's too big of a city; too narrow and we couldn't get in the gags."
One of the key locations on Bird Island is Red's house, which he has built on the beach, to get away from the rest of the island residents. "While all of the other birds' huts are soft and weave, Red has constructed his hut of a hard, stucco material - we thought that was a good metaphor for Red's hard exterior. He has cacti all over his garden, and a big palm tree that has spikes on top of it. It's beautiful, but it's foreboding."
Between Bird Island and Pig Island, there are over 90 locations in the film. "We were constantly contrasting between the two islands", Oswald continues. "On Bird Island, everything is organic. They have no electricity. On Piggy Island, they have everything - they have electricity, TNT, automobiles, airplanes. A cup on Bird Island might be made of chiseled wood, handmade, natural. A cup on Pig Island would be made out of metal or glass."
"I like to call the pig world 'the architecture of idiocracy,'" says Oswald. "There's no rhyme or reason to how they construct things. In contrast to the birds - the birds are very thoughtful and they really aesthetically care about what their place looks like, and every little detail is right - the pigs are just throwing structures together. The pigs' sense of design is more vertical, so they love to stack things, and their buildings end up just being wobbly, off-kilter and off-balance. That's a great catalyst to making the game come to life: once the birds get to Pig Island, they have a target to hit - these really tall, wonky structures are a really rich place to begin an action sequence.
"Pig Island is kind of a Rube Goldberg type of world", says Danny Dimian, the Visual Effects Supervisor. "It's built to fall apart. As we built this large world for the pigs, we had to think of it in smaller blocks; the city itself is built of simple, distinct pieces, like a child builds out of Lego bricks. When they're assembled, they can give you many, many permutations."
And those building blocks can be reused over and over again. The team followed a similar strategy in creating the foliage for Bird Island. "We built an extensive library of plants, trees, shrubs, all in a very bird-inspired motif", Dimian continues. "That library allowed us to mix-and-match, scale, and create an incredibly rich world out of a lot fewer pieces than the audience might see."
And like any child building something out of blocks, one of the fun parts is knocking it down. "We also put a lot of effort into destroying this world", Dimian concludes. "When the birds finally take it out on the pigs in the final sequence, we get to blow up everything we've put together. Maybe that's the kid in me, but that's still a very satisfying thing to do."
Welcome to Bird Island, where flightless birds lead a mostly happy existence. Whether you're visiting the Early Bird worm shop, or getting your feather extensions at the Birds of a Feather beauty salon, Bird Island has everything a happy bird could want. And their entire existence revolves around their eggs - because after all, they believe the children are the future.
But, of course, every apple has a worm. That's Red - he's an angry bird. It's not his fault - he just can't get past the daily annoyances that the rest of us let slide. And it's not long before his temper lands him in anger management class, where he meets his fellow misfits, Chuck and Bomb.
With no technology, no electricity - and, of course, their useless, tiny wings - the birds are completely naïve and totally unaware of the larger world around them. And life is fine... until one day, a boat comes ashore, helmed by mysterious, green pigs. (And - wouldn't you know it - they crash their ship right into Red's house on the beach.)
For most of the birds, the coming of the pigs is the greatest event in the history of birdkind... so when the pigs step hoof onto the island, the birds welcome them with open wings.
And why not? The pigs bring amazing technology that they are all too happy to share with the birds. They have TNT, which you can use to blow stuff up; they have a device they call a trampoline; and best of all, they have built an amazing long-distance delivery system called a slingshot.
Only Red has any idea that there is more to the pigs than meets the eye. These pigs really start to get under his skin. And, remarkably enough, he - along with Chuck and Bomb - will use his anger to unite the birds as he figures out what really brought the pigs to Bird Island.
(Spoiler alert: it's the eggs.)
Jason Sudeikis (Red) was born in Fairfax, Virginia, but grew up in Overland Park, Kansas. After high school, he received a basketball scholarship to a local junior college. As a class clown and a self-admitted "procrastinator", he frequently dribbled himself in and out of trouble while in college. He began his path in show business by driving 40 miles every weekend to take classes at the ComedySportz Theater (now Comedy City) in Kansas City. Leaving basketball and college behind, he made his way to Chicago, where he performed with The Second City National Touring Company, Improv Olympic, The Annoyance Theater and Boom Chicago in Amsterdam. He then moved to Nevada where he became a founding member of The Second City Las Vegas. In 2003, Sudeikis was encouraged by his uncle George Wendt (Cheers) to send a tape of his work to the producers of Saturday Night Live. Sudeikis started on the show as a staff writer, and after two years and many auditions, he found himself in front of the camera and never looked back.
Sudeikis recently wrapped Nacho Vigolando's sci-fi thriller Colossal, starring opposite Anne Hathaway for Voltage Pictures. Prior to that, Sudeikis filmed the indie drama The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Directed by Bill Purple, the story follows grieving widower Henry (Sudeikis), whose wife (Jessica Biel) recently died in a car accident. He finds refuge by helping a wisecracking young girl (Maisie Williams) fulfill her dream of building a raft and sailing across the Atlantic Ocean.
He was recently seen in the independent drama Tumbledown, opposite Rebecca Hall which had a special limited release this February. The film, directed by Sean Mewshaw, chronicles the story of a young woman (Hall) struggling to move on with her life after the death of her husband when a brash New York writer (Sudeikis) forces her to confront her loss and the circumstances of his death.
Also in February, Sudeikis took another dramatic turn in his work by playing a lead in Race for Focus Features. The film is based on the incredible true story of Jesse Owens (Stephan James), the legendary athletic superstar whose quest to become the greatest track and field athlete in history thrusts him onto the world stage of the 1936 Olympics, where he faces off against Adolf Hitler's vision of Aryan supremacy. Opposite Jeremy Irons, Sudeikis will star as Owens' obsessive coach and mentor Larry Snyder, who, after a prestigious track career himself, became a coach at Ohio State University. Snyder coached athletes who set 14 world records and won eight Olympic gold medals. The film is directed by Stephen Hopkins.
This spring, Sudeikis will be seen in Mother's Day, the Garry Marshall-directed ensemble feature also starring Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson and Jennifer Aniston.
Sudeikis was also recently seen on the big screen in the independent film Sleeping with Other People which recently premiered in theaters this past fall. Directed by Leslye Headland and produced by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Sudeikis, the film portrays a good-natured womanizer (Sudeikis) who befriends a remorseful serial cheater (Alison Brie). Sudeikis also joined Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson and Kristin Wiig in Relativity's heist comedy Masterminds set to be released in September.
In 2014, Sudeikis reprised his role opposite Charlie Day and Jason Bateman in the highly anticipated sequel Horrible Bosses 2 for New Line Cinema. Directed by Sean Anders, the film also starred Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz. In 2013, he starred opposite Jennifer Aniston in New Line Cinema's box office smash We're The Millers, which grossed over $270,000,000 worldwide at the box office.
His other film credits include: Twentieth Century Fox's animated feature Epic, which also starred Beyoncé Knowles and Amanda Seyfried; Warner Bros.' The Campaign starring alongside Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis and directed by Jay Roach; New Line's Hall Pass in which he starred opposite Owen Wilson in the Farrelly Brothers comedy; The Bounty Hunter, with Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler; New Line's Going The Distance, opposite Drew Barrymore and Justin Long; and What Happens In Vegas with Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher. He also made appearances in The Ten, Watching the Detectives, Bill, Semi-Pro and The Rocker.
In the summer of 2013, Sudeikis completed his eighth and final season as a cast member on Saturday Night Live. Sudeikis worked for two years as a writer on the show before becoming a series regular in 2005. He won over audiences with his impersonations of Vice President Joe Biden, presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and the hip-hop dancer recurring character in the "What's Up With That" sketch.
Sudeikis still enjoys work on the small screen. He recently appeared in a multi-episode arc on FOX's hit comedy Last Man on Earth with his fellow SNL alum Will Forte. He is currently executive producing the workplace buddy comedy Detroiters on Comedy Central with Lorne Michaels.
His past television credits include a multiple episodes of the HBO series Eastbound & Down, and an arc on NBC's Emmy Award- winning show 30 Rock, where he garnered rave reviews. Sudeikis appeared in 12 episodes as Tina Fey's charmingly funny love interest, Floyd. Sudeikis portrayed the voice of two principle characters on Fox's hit animated comedy series The Cleveland Show by creator Seth MacFarlane. Sudeikis also guest starred on It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia as the forgotten fourth member of the Paddy's gang, Schmitty.
Sudeikis is actively involved with The Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City as well as other charities. He currently resides in New York City.
Josh Gad (Chuck) brings incredible wit, humour and depth to all of his roles, from a Summer-loving snowman to a wacky Mormon missionary.
Last summer, he wrapped production on the live-action Disney film Beauty and the Beast as the role of Le Fou, Gaston's sidekick. The film is set to release on March 17, 2017.
Gad's upcoming projects include Paramount's weight-loss comedy, Heavy Duty, based on his original idea; STX's Russ and Roger, in which he will star alongside Will Ferrell; and the biopic about Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Marshall.
Last year, Gad starred alongside Billy Crystal in the FX show The Comedians about a veteran comedian who is reluctantly paired with a younger, edgier comedian for a late-night comedy sketch show.
Additional film credits include starring alongside Adam Sandler and Peter Dinklage in Sony Pictures' Pixels, starring opposite Kevin Hart in The Wedding Ringer, Zach Braff's indie project, Wish I Was Here, starring as the loveable sidekick Olaf in Disney's award-winning animated film, Frozen, the Steve Job's biopic, Jobs; Thanks for Sharing with Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Ruffalo and Tim Robbins; Shawn Levy's The Internship, opposite Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson; Ed Zwick's Love & Other Drugs, with Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway and Hank Azaria; Shawn Levy's The Rocker, alongside Rainn Wilson; 21, opposite Kate Bosworth, Lawrence Fishburne and Kevin Spacey; and Crossing Over, with Harrison Ford, Sean Penn, Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd. Other voice credits include Ice Age: Continental Drift, alongside Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez and John Leguizamo.
In 2012, Gad served as an executive producer, co-creator and star on NBC's family comedy 1600 Penn. He played Skip Gilchrist, the clumsy eldest son of the President (Bill Pullman), whose sincere attempts to do the right thing often go awry. Gad has also lent his voice to 'Woodie' on MTV's animated series Good Vibes and played the title role on BBC Worldwide's Gigi: Almost American. He has guest-starred on hit series such as New Girl and Modern Family.
Gad also took Broadway by storm starring as Elder Cunningham in the Tony Award-winning comedy musical Book of Mormon. Gad was nominated for Tony, Drama League and Astaire awards, winning the Outer Critics Circle Award. He made his Broadway debut in a Tony-winning production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
After graduating from the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, Gad began his career in the theater. He then turned his sights to comedy, co-founding his own company, The Lost Nomads Comedy Troupe.
Actor/Writer/Producer Danny McBride (Bomb) first gained industry awareness with his starring role in David Gordon Green's All the Real Girls, winner of the 2003 Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. However, it was when he returned in 2006 to the Festival with the smash hit comedy The Foot Fist Way that he became a known name in Hollywood and desired by its top producers and directors. McBride, who starred and co-wrote the film with his fellow college classmates Hill (Observe and Report) and Ben Best (Superbad, season one of Eastbound & Down), caught the attention of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's Gary Sanchez Productions. Released in May 2009 by Paramount Vantage, the Los Angeles Times proclaimed the film "is the sort of nimble oddball discovery that one wishes would come along more often", while USA Today remarked that "Foot Fist is more original and comical than such low-budget sleeper hits as Napoleon Dynamite and Hot Fuzz."
In 2008, McBride found continued success by starring opposite Seth Rogen and James Franco in Pineapple Express. The film, which was directed by Green and co-written by Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad), centers on two buddies who get mixed up with a drug gang. McBride was nominated for Best Newcomer for his role as Red by the members of the Detroit Film Critics Society. Sony Pictures released the film in August and opened #1 in the box office reaching $100 million worldwide.
Immediately following the success of Pineapple, McBride was back on top of the box office a week later with the Paramount release of Tropic Thunder. Directed and written by Ben Stiller, the film was #1 for two weeks in a row and earned over $100 million domestically. McBride was joined by a star-studded cast including Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Tom Cruise and Matthew McConaughey.
McBride was seen in the Academy Award®-nominated Up in the Air opposite George Clooney and Melanie Lynsky, and voiced Fred McDade in the 2010 animated summer blockbuster, Despicable Me which has currently grossed over $280 million worldwide. McBride has also starred in such comedies as Hot Rod, The Heartbreak Kid, Drillbit Taylor, Observe and Report. He can also be seen in a cameo role in Due Date, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis.
On the small screen, McBride starred in HBO's critically acclaimed comedy, Eastbound & Down, which he co-created, wrote, and produced with longtime friends and collaborators, Jody Hill and David Gordon Green. McBride portrayed Kenny Powers, a vulgar, loud-mouthed ex-professional baseball player fighting his was back to the major leagues. Since premiering on the network in February 2010, the show has gained an enormous cult following and aired four successful seasons.
In April 2011, McBride starred in Your Highness, which he also co-wrote and produced, alongside James Franco, Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel. In summer 2011, McBride starred in 30 Minutes or Less opposite Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland), Aziz Ansari (Funny People), and reuniting with Nick Swardson (Pineapple Express). The comedy centers around two criminals who kidnap a pizza delivery boy and force him to rob a bank within 30 minutes.
In 2013, McBride co-starred Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Craig Robinson, Emma Watson and Jay Baruchel in Sony's This Is The End, directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen. The film has grossed over $126 million worldwide to date and was nominated for Best Comedy at the Critics' Choice Awards.
In 2015, McBride starred alongside Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, John Krasinski and Bill Murray in the romantic comedy Aloha. Most recently, McBride was seen alongside Murray, Kate Hudson and Bruce Willis in Open Road's Rock the Kasbah.
McBride's upcoming projects include a reteaming with collaborator Jody Hill for the HBO comedy series Vice Principals and a voice role in Sony Pictures' bawdy Sausage Party, set to be released in 2016.
Born in Statesboro, Georgia, McBride grew up in Virginia. He attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, where he received a BFA in filmmaking. McBride currently resides in Los Angeles.
Emmy Award nominated actress Maya Rudolph (Matilda) is most widely known for her turn on NBC's Saturday Night Live, where she was one of the show's regular players for over seven years, as well as her various television projects and film appearances. Since her debut on SNL in 2000, Rudolph's memorable portrayals included Oprah Winfrey, Whitney Houston, Donatella Versace and Beyoncé as well as such recurring sketches as "Wake Up Wakefield" and "Bronx Beat."
Rudolph was most recently seen in the hit comedy movie Sisters opposite her former SNL co-stars, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Released on December 18, 2015 by Universal Pictures and written by Paula Pell, Rudolph played Brinda the frenemy of Tina's character.
Rudolph created and stared in her well received comic-variety show special "The Maya Rudolph Show" which aired on NBC on May 19, 2014. The special was executive produced by Lorne Michaels and debuted with 7.23 million viewers.
Rudolph also appeared in The Spoils Before Dying opposite Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell for IFC in July 2015 and her voice was heard in Disney's animated feature Big Hero 6 alongside Jamie Chung and T.J. Miller, which was released in November 2014. She stared in Paul Thomas Anderson's crime-drama Inherent Vice as Petunia Leeway, co-starring Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin and Owen Wilson, which was released in December 2014.
Rudolph previously starred in the critically acclaimed The Way, Way Back, the film was the directorial debut of Oscar® winning writers Jim Rash and Nat Faxon. It received rave reviews at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, and was released by Fox Searchlight in July of 2013, the film went on the be nominated for various awards and grossed $22 million at the domestic box office. Rudolph also reunited with SNL cast-mates Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, and David Spade in the family comedy Grown Ups 2. Additionally, Rudolph was previously heard as the voice of Precious in the animated comedy The Nut Job and her Black Reel Award nominated vocal performance as Burn in DreamWorks' film, Turbo. On the small screen, Rudolph recently starred as Ava on the NBC comedy-sitcom Up All Night.
As a master in the art of comedy, Rudolph starred in Paul Feig's comedy Bridesmaids alongside Kristen Wiig, which has grossed nearly $300 million in the box office worldwide and garnered numerous accolades since it opened May 13, 2011. In addition to being nominated for two Academy Awards®, Bridesmaids was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and won the following awards: the 2011 AFI Film Award for AFI Movie of the Year, the 2012 Critics Choice Movie Award for Best Comedy Movie, the 2012 People's Choice Award for Favorite Comedy Movie, and Comedy Central's 2012 Comedy Award for Best Film.
Rudolph has recently teamed up with musician Gretchen Liberum to form the female-fronted Prince cover band, "Princess". In tribute to His Purple Majesty, the duo became an immediate Internet success last year when they performed "Darling Nikki" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Since then, the band has continued performing hit-after-hit as Prince fans everywhere have tuned in praising their pristine mimicry of the artist.
Rudolph has lent her voice to films such as Zookeeper and Shrek the Third, She has also appeared in Friends With Kids, alongside Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig and Adam Scott, as well as Grown Ups, Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion, Mike Judge's Idiocracy, and Miguel Arteta's Chuck & Buck.
In 2009, she earned rave reviews for her performance opposite John Krasinski in the comedic and heartfelt film Away We Go, directed by Sam Mendes from a script by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida.
The multiple Emmy nominee Kate McKinnon (Stella) returns for the 41st season of "Saturday Night Live", having joined the cast in April 2012.
McKinnon received 2014 and 2015 Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her work on "SNL." In addition, she earned a 2014 American Comedy Award for TV Best Supporting Actress. McKinnon has entertained viewers with her critically acclaimed impression of Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as other notable impressions including Justin Bieber and Ellen DeGeneres. She is also known for her standout "Weekend Update" turns as artist Cecilia Giminez and Russian meteor witness Olga Povlatsky.
McKinnon can be been seen in the upcoming film Ghostbusters and the recent hit Sisters. In addition, she has lent her voice to the upcoming animated feature film Finding Dory and animated series including The Simpsons and Family Guy. McKinnon also co-hosted the 2016 Film Independent Spirit Awards with "Silicon Valley's" Kumail Nanjiani.
Two-time Academy Award® winner Sean Penn (Terence) has become an American film icon in a career spanning over three decades.
Penn has been nominated five times for the Academy Award® as Best Actor for Dead Man Walking, Sweet and Lowdown, I Am Sam and won his first Oscar® in 2003 for his searing performance in Clint Eastwood's Mystic River and his second Oscar® as Best Actor in 2009 for Gus Van Sant's Milk. The performance as gay rights icon Harvey Milk also garnered Penn Best Actor awards from The Screen Actors Guild, New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Additionally, Penn received Best Actor awards at the Cannes (She's So Lovely) and Berlin (Dead Man Walking) Film Festivals, as well as being a two-time winner of Best Actor honors at the Venice Film Festival (Hurlyburly, 21 Grams).
Penn's feature film directorial debut came with 1991's The Indian Runner, which he also wrote and produced. In 1995, he directed The Crossing Guard, which he also wrote and produced. His third film as director/producer was 2001's The Pledge starring Jack Nicholson and was named in the Top Ten Films of 2001 by The National Board of Review. Penn later wrote and directed the United States contribution to the compilation film 11'09'01. This important project gathered 11 acclaimed directors from around the world to create short films in response to the horrific events of September 11, 2001. In 2003 the film was nominated for a French Cesar in the best European Union Film category and received a special recognition award from the National Board of Review. As writer, producer and director, Into the Wild marked Penn's fourth feature film, which opened to rave reviews in September 2007. The film, based on Jon Krakauer's best-selling non-fiction book, premiered at the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals, appeared on numerous critics lists of the top ten films of 2007, garnered two Academy Award® nominations and nominations from the DGA and WGA for Penn.
Penn is currently in post-production on his film The Last Face starring Charlize Theron, Javier Bardem and Adèle Exarchopoulos. The film centers on the director of an international aid organization (Theron) working in Liberia who embarks on a love affair with a field doctor (Bardem). However, their mutual passion for the value of life is matched by the intensity of their opposing opinions on how best to solve the conflict that surrounds them, creating a seemingly insurmountable rift.
Penn has appeared on stage in productions including Alfred Hayes' Girl on the Via Flaminia and Albert Innaurato's Earthworms In Los Angeles. On Broadway, Penn performed in Kevin Heelan's Heartland and John Byrne's Slab Boys. He appeared in David Rabe's Hurlyburly, at the Westwood Playhouse, and Goose and Tom Tom, at Lincoln Center, both productions directed by the author. Additionally, Penn starred opposite Nick Nolte and Woody Harrelson in The Late Henry Moss, written and directed by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Sam Shepard.
In 2002, Sean Penn was presented with the Modern Master Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and in 2003, became the youngest recipient to ever receive the Donostia Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Sebastian Film Festival. In 2004, he was honored with the John Steinbeck Award for outspoken torch-bearers in the creative arts. In 2008, Penn received the Desert Palm Achievement Award for Acting, after being presented in 2007 with the Director of the Year Award for Into the Wild from the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Penn served as President of the jury for the 2008 Cannes International Film Festival and later that year was named a Knight in the French Legion of Honor.
As a journalist, Penn has written for Time, Interview, Rolling Stone and The Nation magazines. In 2004, Penn wrote a two-part feature in The San Francisco Chronicle after a second visit to the war-torn Iraq. In 2005, he wrote a five-part feature in the same paper reporting from Iran during the election which led to the Ahmadinejad regime. Penn's landmark interviews with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and Cuba's President Raul Castro, were published in The Nation and The Huffington Post. Penn's interview with President Castro was the first-ever interview with an international journalist. Penn's latest story for Rolling Stone found him in the jungle of Mexico interviewing then at large drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera prior to his most recent capture by the Mexican authorities.
Penn's humanitarian work found him in New Orleans in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and more recently in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. In January 2010, Penn established the J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO). Today the organization employs a predominantly Haitian staff of over 350 professionals to support families in areas affected by the earthquake transition to resilient, sustainable and prosperous communities. This is done through J/P HRO's four integrated programs: 1) Medical, 2) Camp & Relocations Management, 3) Engineering & Construction and 4) Community Development. J/P HRO is dedicated to saving lives and building sustainable programs with the Haitian people quickly and effectively.
For his efforts, Penn has received numerous honors and awards, among them: The Commander's Award for Service (US Army 82nd Airborne Division); 82nd Airborne Award for Meritorious Service; the Operation Unified Response JTF Haiti Certificate from Lieutenant General, US Army Commander P.K. Keen; the 1st Recon 73rd Division Coin of Excellence; 2nd Brigade Combat Team Coin of Excellence; Commendation of Excellence United States Southern Command; Award of Excellence by the Deputy Commander US Southern Command; the 2010 Hollywood Humanitarian Award from the Hollywood Film Festival; the 2011 Stanley Kramer Award from the Producers Guild of America; and the Children's and Families Global Development Fund Humanitarian Award, presented by the Ambassador of the Republic of Haiti. In July 2010, Penn was knighted by Haitian President Rene Preval in a ceremony in Port-Au-Prince.
In 2012, Penn was named Ambassador at Large for Haiti and was presented with this honor by President Michel Martelly at a ceremony in Port-Au-Prince in 2012. Penn was presented with the 2012 Peace Summit Award at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, a tribute for extraordinary solidarity by the Haitian Parliament in a combined meeting of the National Assembly and the International Humanitarian Service Award from the American Red Cross. In December 2012, he was also named Special Advisor to Haiti's Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.
Two-time Emmy Award winning actor and author Tony Hale (Ross / Cyrus / Mime) is best known for his role as Gary Walsh, the downtrodden personal aide to Julia Louis-Dreyfus's Vice President Selina Meyers on HBO's Emmy Award winning political comedy Veep. Hale won two Emmys for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Veep in 2013 and 2015.
Hale has appeared in a wide variety of critically acclaimed television programs and films throughout his career. Prior to Veep, he co-starred as the socially awkward Buster Bluth on the ground-breaking, Emmy Award-winning series Arrested Development, which aired on Fox from 2003 - 2006 and was later picked up for an additional season on Netflix in 2013. That same year, Hale was seen alongside Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in the Paul Feig directed action- comedy The Heat, which grossed over $229 million worldwide for Fox. Last year, he co-starred Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg in Lionsgate's action-comedy American Ultra and starred as the villain in Twentieth Century Fox's animated/live-action film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip along with Jason Lee, Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney.
Hale will next be seen opposite John Malkovich and Rodrigo Santoro in the independent drama Dominion and in Kevin Smith's comedy horror film Yoga Hosers with Johnny Depp, Justin Long and Haley Joel Osment.
In 2014, Hale released his first children's book, Archibald's Next Big Thing, under Boxing Clever Publishing. The book, penned by Hale, follows a young chicken named Archibald who is always looking for his next "big thing" instead of realising all the big and beautiful things around him, right now. The theme of the book stemmed from Hale's own life experiences of learning to cope with his obsession of always looking for his next acting role instead of stopping to smell the roses.
Hale grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, where he attended The Young Actors Theatre. He then continued on to study acting at The Barrow Group Theatre Company in New York. His first break came in 1999, when he gained recognition for his dance to Mr. Roboto in the popular television commercial for Volkswagen (this commercial was later spoofed in an episode of Arrested Development).
As an award-winning actor, writer, and creator, Keegan-Michael Key (Judge Peckinpah) has become one of the most creative and in-demand faces in Hollywood. With his extraordinarily diverse skill set and wide-ranging talent in both comedy and drama, Key redefines what it means to be a chameleon and multi-hyphenate in the worlds of film, television, and theater.
Key is the co-creator and co-star of Comedy Central's Key & Peele with Jordan Peele. For his work on the show, Key was nominated for five 2015 Emmy Awards including Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy and Outstanding Variety Sketch Series. The show won a 2014 Peabody Award and an American Comedy Award for Best Alternative Comedy Series. The show has become a TV and viral sensation, with four Emmy® nominations and over 900 million online hits. The series concluded its five season run in September 2015.
In film, Key recently completed production on Peter Atencio's Keanu, in which he stars and also co-produced. Warner Bros. will release the film on April 22, 2016. The film follows friends (Key and Jordan Peele) who hatch a plot to retrieve a stolen cat by posing as drug dealers for a street gang. Key also recently completed production on Mike Birbiglia's Don't Think Twice opposite Gillian Jacobs. The comedy is about an improv group that loses the lease on its home theater at the same time that one of its cast members gets chosen for the biggest sketch-comedy show on TV. Key is currently in production on John Hamburg's Why Him?, in which he stars alongside James Franco, Bryan Cranston, Zoey Deutch, and Megan Mullally opening in November 2016.
Key, along with Peele, is currently developing Substitute Teacher for Paramount. The film is based on the hugely popular Key & Peele sketch of the same name, which has over 91 million YouTube views. He will also star in Nick Stoller's animated feature Storks, which Warner Bros. will release in 2017. The duo is also working on New Line's Police Academy, which they are set to produce. Key was most recently seen in Vacation, Pitch Perfect 2, Horrible Bosses 2 and Let's Be Cops. He also voiced a role in Sony Pictures Animation's Hotel Transylvania 2.
On television, Key has recurred on the Emmy-winning FX series Fargo, USA's Playing House, Adult Swim's Children's Hospital, and NBC's Parks & Rec. He was also a series regular on FOX's MADtv for six seasons and CBS's Gary Unmarried. Key's additional film credits include: Wanderlust, Just Go With It, Role Models, Hell Baby, Afternoon Delight, and Due Date. Additional TV credits include: The League, The Middle, How I Met Your Mother, Bob's Burgers, Reno 911! and ER.
Key was named among Time magazine's Most Influential People of 2014 and Entertainment Weekly's Entertainers of the Year of 2012. He is a founder of The Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck, Michigan, one of the creative birthplaces of Sam Richardson of Veep and Tim Robinson of SNL.
Key is a veteran of Detroit and Chicago's The Second City Theater. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts from The University of Detroit Mercy and his Master of Fine Arts in Theater from Pennsylvania State University. He currently resides in Los Angeles.
Actor, writer, comedian and producer Bill Hader (Leonard) has become one of the most sought after comedy minds in Hollywood. In 2013, Hader finished production of his eighth and final season as a regular cast member on NBC's venerable comedy institution Saturday Night Live. Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Hader made an early splash on "SNL" in 2005 with his uncanny impressions including, most notably, Al Pacino and Vincent Price. Heralded by New York Magazine as, "SNL's new secret weapon, Hader boasted impersonations and sarcasm delivered with eviscerating deftness." In 2012, Hader received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his work on the show. In 2013 he was again nominated for an Emmy in the same category.
Hader had a full slate of film work in the summer of 2007 that began with a role in Judd Apatow's box-office hit and critically-acclaimed Knocked Up, which grossed over $219 million worldwide. Hader immediately followed this up with a performance in another Apatow release as a wayward policeman opposite Seth Rogen in Superbad for Columbia Pictures which grossed over $169 million worldwide.
Hader found great success in 2008 with his role as Jason Segel's compassionate and hilarious step-brother in the box-office surprise hit Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Hader also made a memorable cameo role in the summer action/comedy Pineapple Express. Later that year, Hader appeared in the summer blockbuster comedy Tropic Thunder as the insecure studio executive Rob Slolom who has to contend with the antics of Tom Cruise's crazed studio head character, Les Grossman. Nominated Best Comedy for the BFCA Critics' Choice Awards, the film was directed and written by Ben Stiller, who also starred in the film. Tropic Thunder opened #1 at the box office for two weeks in a row and earned over $188 million worldwide. Hader was joined by Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr., Jay Baruchel, Brandon T. Jackson and Matthew McConaughey to earn Best Ensemble Cast by the 2008 Boston Society of Film Critics Awards.
In 2009, Hader reunited with Ben Stiller for the worldwide hit, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. The film generated over $413 million worldwide. He also appeared in Miramax's Adventureland, reuniting Hader with his Superbad director, Greg Mottola and SNL cast mate, Kristin Wiig. Hader also won an Emmy Award in 2009 for his work as a producer on Comedy Central's South Park.
Hader released Paul in 2011, another Mottola-directed film in which he appeared alongside a star-studded cast of Jane Lynch, Simon Pegg, Sigourney Weaver, Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, and Seth Rogen, who voices the title character, an alien named Paul.
In 2012, Hader co-starred Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in Sony Pictures' Men in Black 3, which has grossed over $624 million worldwide.
Hader has also voiced several animated characters such as Flint Lockwood in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which earned Best Animated Feature nominations for the Golden Globes, the Annie Awards, the Broadcast Film Critics Association and Satellite Awards. In 2013, Hader returned as Lockwood for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 which has grossed over $274 million worldwide. Other voiceover films include: Turbo, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Doogal, and Hoodwinked Too! Hood VS. Evil. Other film credits for Hader include You, Me, and Dupree, Hot Rod, and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.
In 2013, Hader was seen in the CBS Films comedy The To Do List, written and directed by his wife, Maggie Carey, and co-starring Andy Samberg, Rachel Bilson, and Aubrey Plaza. Hader was also seen opposite Larry David, Jon Hamm, Danny McBride, Eva Mendes, Kate Hudson and Michael Keaton in Clear History on HBO.
In 2014, Hader starred opposite Kristen Wiig and Ty Burrell in The Skeleton Twins, which was purchased by Lionsgate at The Sundance Film Festival and currently boasts an 87% on RottenTomatoes.com. The film earned Hader a Gotham Independent Film Award nomination for Best Actor.
In 2015, Hader was heard in Pixar's Inside Out, alongside Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Phyllis Smith and Lewis Black. Directed by Pete Docter, Inside Out received many accolades including wins for Best Animated Feature at the Critic's Choice Awards and Golden Globe Awards, and is nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Screenplay at the upcoming 88th Annual Academy Awards®. Also in 2015, Hader co-starred alongside Amy Schumer in Universal Pictures' comedy, Trainwreck, directed by Judd Apatow. Trainwreck opened to rave reviews at the 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival, and was nominated for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globe Awards.
Hader most recently signed on to star in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Roald Dahl's children classic, The BFG, slated to be released in 2016.
A Second City Los Angeles alum, Hader currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, filmmaker, Maggie Carey, and their three daughters.
Peter Dinklage (Mighty Eagle) first appeared in the 1995 hit indie film Living in Oblivion with Steve Buscemi and Catherine Keener. After that he appeared in a number of films including the Sundance Award Winner The Station Agent, written and directed by Tom McCarthy, and was nominated for an Independent Spirit and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance. Other recent films include X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Death At A Funeral, and Pixels.
Dinklage has played the part of Tyrion Lannister in the HBO smash hit Game of Thrones, now in its sixth season. He has received two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for his performance.