“Back when I was in school, I’d procrastinate doing my homework by watching cartoons, and ‘Yogi Bear’ was one of the staples of after-school television and Saturday mornings,” Timberlake reminisced. “Later, I found out that my parents grew up with it, too. Watching it makes me feel like a kid again.”
The Grammy-winning pop sensation-turned actor talks about his experience making “Yogi Bear” in the following interview:
Question: Did you try to stay close to the character of Boo Boo previously or did you try to add a little bit of yourself to it this time?
Justin Timberlake: I think an interesting thing about the process of voicing these characters, and so genius of Eric Brevig, the director, to do is he had Dan [Aykroyd who voices Yogi] and I come in and record together. We had two or three sessions together because we really did look at this as a Batman and Robin, if you will, sort of a duo. So, it really made a difference with the rhythm of banter. We were just talking about that—the rhythm of the banter between Yogi and Boo Boo could move like that because there’s a really nice relationship that they have.
And in the specific of re-voicing such iconic characters for a lot of us, I think we both felt like we were honored to pay tribute to sort of multi-generational characters and also understanding that these characters are going to be introduced to young minds for the first time. So, we were encouraged to give them a new, sort-of, spin and, obviously, there are some jokes in the film that are a little more modern, that will play better, I think, with young people. Other than that I was just excited to wear a bow-tie. [Laughs]
Q: Had you always been doing Boo Boo’s voice?
Justin: Well, at the risk of ruining my social life I’ll answer [laughs]. Actually, funny enough, I kind of learned how to sing when I was a kid imitating singers on the radio, Al Green and Michael Jackson and Don Henley—those are a few names that I can remember off the top of my head. But also, I’m an only child and was obviously really bored, and I would entertain my parents by imitating Scooby Doo and Boo Boo. I would just kind of imitate all the cartoon voices. So, you know that about me now. That’s weird. [Laughs]
Q: The movie has some great life lessons about money. Can you talk about what lessons that kids would get and what life lessons you’ve learned from your parents about money?
Justin: Well, there are two great themes that offset each other for young people. Young kids can be caught up with technology right now; we’re sort of living in the age of technology. It’s nice to know that we’re using 3D technology to school—for lack of a better term—kids on the environment and how money is not the most important thing in the world and, so, congratulations Warner Bros., seriously, on taking the opportunity to do that.
There’s a great way to reach young minds and right now it’s with big 3D movies. I just got to screen the movie last night and it made me feel the same way that I felt when I first watched “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,” which I think is a classic A+ awesome movie. So, to be able to use that as well to school young minds on how money’s not the most important thing in the world and we need trees to breathe [was great].
Q: What is the attraction of doing voice-over film as opposed to live action? What was the lure, especially with this?
Justin: They shot all this live-action in New Zealand and then Dan and I showed up to voice these characters and there were kind of weird stencil sketches of the characters running through. And then it was our job to find what we thought was funny and kind of arc the characters through the scene and their relationship. I watched and I was like, ‘Man, you guys shot this in New Zealand?’ I didn’t even know it until I showed up to the first recording session. And I was very jealous. I was in the recording studio for about three hours and then I was done with my work for the day and if you know Warner Bros. studio, it’s about a mile from Toluca Lake where a golf club is, and then I went and played 18 holes and I didn’t feel so bad about the fact that I didn’t get to go to New Zealand. [Laughs]
But I think, for me, I grew up with Hanna-Barbera cartoons as well and, so, I think Donald actually, probably, blindly gave me the opportunity to do this and I don’t think that he knew that I was going to be in character the whole time as Boo Boo. So, maybe think about that in the future, Donald. They’re just iconic characters and they’re awesome. Yogi and Boo Boo, I grew up with them and laughed at them as a kid. I think nostalgia was probably the biggest reason that I did it.