When casting the actors who would voice the characters in Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, the filmmakers looked to a variety of performers to find not just the ideal actors for the film, but also the perfect people to embody Dr. Seuss’ iconic characters.
Cast as the gruff yet comical Lorax was legendary comic actor Danny DeVito, who currently entertains TV audiences weekly with his portrayal of Frank Reynolds on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
It is always a challenge to cast title characters across the globe in a way that preserves the integrity of both the animated character and the actor’s original performance. The incredible personality that DeVito brought to the Lorax in the English version was so compelling that the team wondered if he could capture that same brilliance in other languages as well.
DeVito was approached with the seemingly impossible task of voicing his character in four different languages. Despite the fact that he wasn’t fluent in any language beyond English, DeVito is always game for a challenge. He agreed to voice the character in Spanish, Italian, Russian and German. Against all odds, he nailed not only the local dialects but also the comedic timing in those languages.
DeVito, a father of three, is a lifelong fan of Dr. Seuss’ books and is an environmental advocate. Seeing the artists’ sketch of the Lorax made him even more eager to work on the project.
How did you feel when you were first offered the part in the THE LORAX?
I was very excited. I always had an affinity for the Lorax because we kind of resemble each other. Playing this role was a real gift because the Lorax is so dear to my heart.
How do you see your character, the Lorax?
The Lorax is way cool. He’s a guy who fights for what he believes in. Once the destruction of the Trufulla valley is beyond his control, he had to sit back and wait for the one person who might be able to make a change. And that mustache, that baby’s big!
How was it to play the Lorax?
I loved playing the Lorax. Chris Meledandri (Producer) brought me the rendering of the Lorax, which was so beautiful, and said that they wanted me to be the voice of the character. It was such an honor. It was a lot of fun and I had a great time. I’m very happy to be part of it.
Were you also attracted to the fact that this story has universal appeal?
This is a movie that you can take your kids to and you won’t be bored at all. It’s very entertaining and fun. Although my character, the Lorax, is a little gruff and grumpy it’s okay because his heart is in the right place. Part of the charm of it for me is to know that while I’m voicing the Lorax, Danny is back there somewhere working with him.
Is the movie very much like the book that it is adapted from?
The story is very much like the book but with the added attraction of romance. In THE LORAX, Zac Efron’s character, Ted, falls in love with the girl down the block, Audrey (voiced by Taylor Swift). More than anything, Audrey wants to see a real tree. It becomes Ted’s mission to find a tree for Audrey.
You must have a vivid imagination, to be inside a booth and see yourself in a world like that. What were you thinking?
I’m in the booth, I got the script, I know the story and I understand what the Lorax wants. He wants to prevent the environment where the animals live from changing. That was inspiring and helped me to bring the passion into the character.
Are there strong messages that children can take away from this movie?
Oh, yes. We should all have the tenacity to stand up for something that we believe in and know is right. When you see this movie you can identify with the message of taking care of the environment. Each person can do their part. The more people do it and the more they spread that message, the more the whole entire world will begin to know the importance of doing it, too. It sounds like an insurmountable task but it’s possible. You have to have faith and it’s there in THE LORAX.
Besides being a story about a young boy’s courage there’s also a love story involved.
There’s a beautiful love story in THE LORAX. This kid, Ted is really determined to find a real tree for the girl of his dreams, Audrey. Ted has never seen a tree and has no idea where to find one. Yet still, he is determined to give Audrey the desire of her heart. Ted is a man on a mission. Which is a really cool thing to be.
How was it working with Chris Renaud (Director) and Illumination Entertainment?
They were all very, very good. They knew exactly what they wanted. Chris Meledandri (Producer) was very supportive of everything. Sometimes Chris Renaud would be in Paris so we would Skype. All in all, the experience was good.