One of the better animated movies of 2013 is definitely DreamWorks’ Turbo. Boasting a star-studded cast including Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, and Michael Peña, it tells the story of a small snail who dreams of racing in the Indy 500, despite the fact that all the odds are stacked against him.
I reviewed the film over the summer and thought for a flick about snails it definitely wasn’t sluggish, with a fast-paced story and some great voice acting propelling it along. Certainly one worth watching, for both kids and adults.
In honor of Turbo‘s release on Blu-Ray, I had the opportunity to talk with Ben Schwartz, who voices Skidmark (the snail with the goofy eyes in the picture above) in the film. While it was a bit hard to stay on topic due to how funny Ben is, we found a way to discuss what drew him to a movie about racing snails, how he enjoys doing voice acting compared to live-action acting, and much more.
Check out the full interview below and enjoy!
WGTC: I’ll admit, when I first heard about Turbo, a movie with racing snails and all, I was a little skeptical, but then when I saw it, it was actually really funny and really good. Why do you think it worked so well?
Schwartz: Well first of all, the cast is insanely talented so I think if you put some fun words in front of those guys, you’re going to get something great. But I think it works because it kind of transcends kids and adults and it brings in people who love racing.
The whole story is basically about a guy who feels like he doesn’t belong with other people and he has this big dream. It’s like that age-old story of following your dream, pushing through everything to make sure that thing happens and finding people who are like-minded. Like me, going to UCB and finding those people that I could perform comedy with, I think it’s a cool feeling to feel ostracized and then realize you have a home with people who have the same likes as you.
WGTC: How was it working with such a talented cast?
Schwartz: Oh my god, it was the best in the universe. The weirdest thing is you don’t really get to meet them. I never got to meet them until the premiere, but just the fact my name is next to Snoop Dogg and Ryan Reynolds and Maya Rudolph, Michelle Rodriguez, Ken Jeong. That was just such a cool, cool thing.
I would’ve done a Dreamworks movie regardless, I’m such a big fan of that company and those films. But to find out that I’m surrounded by people I’ve looked up to my whole life, it’s pretty cool.
WGTC: For you, how does voice acting compare with traditional acting?
Schwartz: I mean, I love regular acting, but I think the fun thing you get out of voice-over acting is you get to be the stupidest version of yourself. It works when you’re going to Nth degree, when you’re yelling at the top of your lungs. Stuff you can’t get away with when you’re doing live-action. To open yourself up, to almost be like a kid again. I love that stuff.
WGTC: I know improv is usually a big part of comedic acting, but I would imagine that has to be toned down with an animated film. Is that the case?
Schwartz: Well it’s funny because I do an animated TV show as well, and on the animated TV show I can’t really improvise since it’s 11 minutes long and all that stuff. But when you do a film, since they haven’t animated yet and since they animate to your voice, you can kind of go nuts. Then they use whatever their favorite part is. I mean, you always get what’s on the paper, but David Soren (the director) was so nice and so kind and let me play around. Some of the stuff I played around with got in the movie and that’s like the most exciting thing to see.
So they do let you play around a bit, but you’re right, I can’t go on a tangent about a dragon and a snowman because then they’d have to animate a dragon and a snowman.
WGTC: Did you have any hesitations about playing a racing snail?
Schwartz: No, it was the opposite. I’ve never said yes to something faster. They said you’re going to play a racing snail, then halfway through it they’re like, “Oh, also your name is Skidmark.” I go, “Thank you for that gift! I appreciate it!”
WGTC: Are there any other animated animals on your bucket list?
Schwartz: Oh man. I mean I can’t even tell you. You name an animal, I’ll play it. You want me to play a zebra? I’ll play a zebra. I don’t care. You want me to play a raccoon? I’ll play a raccoon. I want to play Rocket Raccoon in a Marvel movie.
If the script is good and the idea is good and if it’s for a company that I trust to make a great movie, I’d be so down. If the words make sense and the people who create it are nice human beings, I would be so interested in anything like that.Next
WGTC: Can you tell us a bit about your experience working on Coffee Town?
Schwartz: Coffee Town was fun. We filmed the whole thing very quickly. Me, Steve (Little), and Glenn Howerton worked almost every day single day of the movie, which is so fun and so great. It was very intense too. It was also with College Humor, who I’ve been doing shorts with for years and years. When they came to me, I really wanted to be a part of the first feature film they did just because I’m such a fan of what they’ve done so far.
It was also very interesting because you do something like Turbo with a premiere in New York and people around the world watching you. You feel so special to be a part of it. Then you do something like Coffee Town which is live-action. Turbo takes maybe a year and change to record, Coffee Town we did 20 days and then it was edited for whatever. Two totally, totally different experiences. I love them both very, very much though.
WGTC: I thought Coffee Town was really good for the first College Humor feature. Do you have any plans for another one with them?
Schwartz: I don’t know. I’m not sure. I’m hoping they’ll do more. I’ll have to see how well this one did for them, but if it did well my assumption is that they’ll do more. I would absolutely do more. I’ve written some movies for Universal and one for Paramount, I’d try to put one together for them to do, because it’s so collaborative and stuff like that. I would totally be down to do another movie with them. Absolutely.
WGTC: Now for my token Parks and Rec question…
Schwartz: Ooo here it comes. Is it a J.R.R. Tolkien thing. Is it a Hobbit type question?
WGTC: Yeah of course! That sort of Tolkien. But how was it working with Henry Winkler?
Schwartz: Oh my god. Let me tell you, if you want to meet the nicest Jewish man in the universe, you could just take a seat next to Henry Winkler. I mean, the first day of filming he was so nice. He’s an idol in everybody’s mind, to me as well, I mean he’s the Fonz! He’s done so much great stuff in children’s hospitals.
He was so kind and I remember the second day I shot with him my neck was hurting me, and he goes, “Ben, do you want to sit down? I’ll give you a massage.” And I’m like, “Are you the best person in the world?” And he literally uncranked my neck which was hurting me for like a day. He massaged it out so it didn’t hurt any more.
Just the most lovely man in the universe. And so happy to be working. I just hope to be as happy as he is, because he’s done so many episodes of so many things, you’d think he’d get sick of it, but he doesn’t at all. He’s so joyful and so good on set and so funny. He hits every beat and he knows his lines. That was a joy. That was an absolute joy.
WGTC: So he’s as good of a masseur as he is an actor?
Schwartz: He is as nice of a human being as he is an actor. I can’t express to you how nice and kind this man was.
WGTC: Do you have anything else exciting coming up that you can tell us about?
Schwartz: I’m writing a movie for Universal called No Hearts Club. Oh and I’ve got House Of Lies which premieres January 12th. Then I have This Is Where I Leave You, it’s a movie I did coming out next year, which will be really fun.
That concludes our interview, but I’d like to thank Ben for taking the time to talk with us. Be sure to pick up Turbo on Blu-Ray as it’s now on store shelves.Previous