“Cats and Dogs” Voice Actors Curl Up with Kidzworld!
Maybe you have pets and wonder what they are saying but you don’t get to speak for them. James Marsden, Bette Midler and Christina Applegate got that chance in the new action adventure Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore.
Cats And Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
You might have seen the original film Cats and Dogs on video or DVD. It has taken nine years and much more sophisticated computer abilities and advances in puppetry to bring us to that film’s sequel.
We were with the cast of the movie (the real Cats and Dogs) as well as the humans who speak for them recently in Beverly Hills and asked the human actors the scoop on doing voice work in a talking animal movie, personal pets and even fave childhood toys.
Kidzworld: Tell us about the cat or dog each of you voiced.
Bette: Iâ€™m a cat. I play Kitty Galore. She’s an Egyptian sphinx cat. Sheâ€™s hairless except for a little hair on her tail. Sheâ€™s very cranky because sheâ€™s been rejected by her beloved human family and sheâ€™s determined to rule the world. When I first started, [I just saw] a sketch. As the time went on, the backgrounds of the other characters got more and more filled in. That was very, very exciting to watch. Iâ€™ve never experienced that before.
Bette Midler as Kitty Galore
James: I play Diggs. Heâ€™s the German Shepherd. Heâ€™s a dog that worked for the police force, but was rejected because he had difficulty following orders. He has a lot of raw ability and talent, but unfortunately his ego eclipses all of those natural abilities. He’s recruited by this separate group of dogs to thwart Kitty Galore and, ultimately, has to team up with cats, which is the end all, be all. He has to overcome his own sense of pride to work together with them. I like his confidence and his boldness. He doesnâ€™t really know about teamwork so much, but heâ€™s very comfortable in his own skin.
James Marsden as Diggs the German Shepherd
Christina: I play the cat Catherine, who is the agent from MEOWS. Sheâ€™s an incredibly sophisticated, smart agent whoâ€™s very spy-like. And, she begrudgingly has to be teamed up with these dogs, in order for her to stop Kitty Galore, who is about to destroy her universe. I love her. I think sheâ€™s a really wonderful, rich cat.
Christina Applegate as Catherine the cat
Kidzworld: Who is a cat or dog person?
Bette: In real life, my pet passed. Iâ€™m a non pet person at this point.
James: Iâ€™m a dog person. Iâ€™m allergic to cats so, by default, Iâ€™m a dog person.
Christina: I am a both person. I love all the animals. All shapes, colors, sizes and species.
The REAL Pets of Cats And Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
Kidzworld: What was the process of doing the voices? Did you all get to work together at all? Was there a big moment where you discovered your â€œinner animal?â€
James: It was an interesting process. When youâ€™re in a film or doing television and youâ€™re in front of the camera, you have your expressions in your face and your body language. This experience for me was challenging because you really do rely on your voice to convey emotion, to play a scene. It was important to find the voice that matched the physicality of the real dog, and to match the energy that was needed for the animators.
For this type of movie, youâ€™re in a dark room with a microphone sitting in front of you and not a lot of imagery to go along. We just had the director, saying, â€œSay that again, but remember that what youâ€™re yelling at, that you canâ€™t see right now, is actually 50 meters ahead of you, so you need to be a little louder.â€ It was very gratifying to see the final picture with all these puzzle pieces coming together.
Christina: It took me a minute to figure out exactly what was going on. My first session with them, I had worked on [my TV show], â€œSamantha Who?â€ until nine oâ€™clock in the morning, and then I had to be there at 11, so I wasnâ€™t in the best possible condition to start doing this kind of voice, and [the director] kept saying, â€œMore energy, more energy.â€ With a lot of other animated movies, they can animate though in the eyes of the character, and they can animate physicality but for this, these are real dogs and cats so it really was a cat sitting there. So, we had to convey so much through the voice. It took me a minute to get used to it, but I think it turned out really well.
Bette: It’s a little bit lonely because itâ€™s just you in a dark room with a sketch of a character but you donâ€™t work with the other actors [or the animals]. The real thrill comes from seeing the finished product. Thereâ€™s nothing harder than working with animals. Those animals really looked like they knew what they were doing, but honestly, theyâ€™re animals! But it all melds together and you say, â€œWell, I canâ€™t tell which part is drawn and which part is a robot and which part is a real animal.â€ I think itâ€™s really an extraordinary achievement.
Christina: With our characters, at least, I was nervous because Betteâ€™s character had to do all this stuff that a cat wouldnâ€™t be able to, like cuddle and pet a mouse. That would be dangerous. I thought, â€œThis is gonna look ridiculous,â€ and it didnâ€™t. It was really incredible.
Kidzworld: Bette, did being a singer help you get a handle on voice work?
Bette: There are some parts of it that are quite musical. The timing is very important. Once the mouth of the character is moving, you have to phrase along with the character thatâ€™s drawn. That’s musical. I will say that the fact that Iâ€™ve sung for a long time has really helped a lot with that.
Kidzworld: James, what is it about voice work that appeals to you?
James: Itâ€™s the fact that you can just roll out of bed. Vanity gets set aside. One of the fun elements of it is definitely that you get to go and really focus on one tool, which is your vocal performance. Voice work is usually not that big of a time commitment. You can go in for a couple of days or a couple of months, here and there, and just go in and play. I like being able to do that. Itâ€™s all you, when you go in and give a vocal performance. Thereâ€™s a playful element to that, that I like. I would love to continue doing voice work.
Kidzworld: Bette, in the movie, Kitty Galore is hairless because something happens to her fur. If anything happened to your fabulous hair in real life, would you also go maniacal and try to destroy the world?
Bette: No, no, no, never. Something happens to my hair in real life every day and I donâ€™t. A long time ago, when I first worked in the theater, I was in Fiddler on the Roof. One of the girls in the play had tried to straighten her hair and her hair fell out, literally, and she didnâ€™t even blink. She went out, got a hairpiece, slapped it on and went out and gave the performance of her life. I never forgot that. I thought, â€œWow, check that out.â€ From that time on, I never thought twice. I just look around, grab a hairpiece and put it on.
Kidzworld: Christina, could you compare doing this to doing the voice of a Chipette in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel?
Christina: It was very different, considering the Chipettes could be anybody. You really donâ€™t recognize [the voice] because itâ€™s just high-pitched gibberish. Thatâ€™s a little bit more taxing because you have to talk a lot higher than you normally speak, and really slowly. Everything has to be incredibly exaggerated, so you really feel ridiculous. Then they speed it up and it doesn’t sound like you. For this, I didn’t want to push it that much. Whatâ€™s great about this film is the human quality that all these animals have. Thatâ€™s why kids love it.
Kidzworld: I’m sure there will be toys available from this movie. Does anyone have a favorite childhood toy?
Christina: I remember having all the dolls from this L.A. restaurant called El Coyote. I didnâ€™t have Barbies, but I had hundreds of these Spanish dolls that were dressed like the waitresses there. I loved my little Conchitas. I had a few of them.
Bette: Actually, my mother made our toys. She made a rabbit for me, and I still have it. He had little corduroy overalls. My mom was really a seamstress. She was fantastic. But, in those days, they used to have patterns and all the women would buy them. The pattern would come with the fabrics and you would put it together. The stuffing too. That was a great little enterprise.
James: [looks sad] I had Star Wars action figures.
Video: Cats And Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore Trailer
Lynn Barker, an editor and entertainment journalist for several websites, magazines and newspapers, has been active in the entertainment industry for many years.