Since his breakout role in 2007’s Knocked Up, Ken Jeong has cemented himself as a comedic force in Hollywood. He’s had an array of memorable live-action films where he’s played his fair share of crazy characters and in Dreamworks’ Turbo, he doesn’t fall short of the expectation of eccentricity, lending his vocal talents to a female manicurist named Kim-ly who decides to help finance a racing snail at the Indy 500.
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 Blu-Ray release, I had the opportunity to talk with Ken about the film. We discussed his kids’ reaction to the movie, his favorite elements of voice acting, and much more.
Check out the full interview below and enjoy!
WGTC: First of all, what was it that drew you to Turbo?
Jeong: The story. The underdog story of Theo the lead snail. Also, meeting with David Soren the director. It was very much a passion project for him, for I believe the last 10 years. When he described it to me and when he described my character, playing a manicurist and a lady, it really made me laugh and I thought there was really a heart-felt story with a lot of laughs. I was sold.
WGTC: Be honest, were you a little upset you didn’t get to play a snail?
Jeong: I’m so glad you’ve brought this up. It was so important for me to finally get that out in the open. As your company says “We Got This Covered” so we’ll talk about it right now and explore it in depth. (Laughs) I’m kidding. Honestly, I look at voiceover and animation as the biggest bonus of my career.
I never set out to really do this. It wasn’t a definable goal for me. The goal was to do live acting. For me to be a part of a project like Turbo was so much fun. My kids love the movie. We’ve all seen it multiple times. To me, doing a movie for my kids, that my kids can enjoy (by the way my kids are six, I’ve got twin girls), it’s just been so great.
WGTC: So your kids liked the movie?
Jeong: My kids loved it. They love my stuff, they love Kim-Ly. They’ll actually ask me to do lines from the movie and I’ll be like (in his Kim-Ly voice) “I’m an old lady” and things like that. They’ll ask me to do that and it just makes them laugh. I really scored cool points with my kids by doing Turbo. Just the way the character was drawn, it’s just all the brilliant animators at Dreamworks and David, the way they drew the character made me laugh. The character was stealing scenes just by the animation alone. Adding that voice, really just put it over the top. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. It was great.
WGTC: I’ll admit, originally hearing the story I was a bit skeptical, racing snails and such, but I thought it was a really funny movie, it worked really well. You’ve touched on it a bit, but why do you think the movie has been such a success?
Jeong: Well, I think it’s exactly with what you said. And it’s so universal. It’s such a universal underdog story. It’s got the right blend of laughs and heart. I really looked at the movie as such a heartfelt story about anyone who’s ever felt like an underdog, felt like they can’t do something, and then have their dreams fulfilled. It’s such a wonderful experience and I think it’s great for kids.
I’m kind of living proof of that. I used to be a doctor and I really wanted to be an actor. I didn’t know if I could, but then I got extremely lucky, worked really hard, and was able to fulfill my own dreams and then some. So I think it’s very relatable, and I think it’s something that I relate to personally.