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The Last Wish and Voicing Kitty Softpaws

Dec 27, 2022


In the long-awaited sequel, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Antonio Banderas returns as the titular sword-wielding feline. From bounty hunter to loyal sidekick in the Shrek franchise, the charming and courageous cat earned his own feature, and now his bravado and devil-may-care attitude have Puss in Boots reckoning with his many adventures.

In director Joel Crawford’s (The Croods: A New Age) action-packed sequel, Puss in Boots is on his last of nine lives. On doctor’s orders, he retires his sword and checks into Mama Luna’s Home for Retired Cats. When the lax life is decidedly not for him, the Stabby Tabby enlists the help of friends, old and new, like Harvey Guillén’s Perrito and former lover interest, Kitty Softpaws, played by Salma Hayek, to locate a fallen star. Legend has it, the star will grant its finder one wish, but Puss in Boots isn’t the only one searching for the wishing star. In addition to Banderas, Hayek, and Guillén, the cast features the vocal talents of Florence Pugh, Oscar-winner Olivia Colman, and John Mulaney and more.
COLLIDER VIDEO OF THE DAY
Before Puss in Boots: The Last Wish falls to theaters tomorrow, Collider’s Steve Weintraub spoke with Joel Crawford and Salma Hayek. During their interview, Hayek and Crawford discuss exploring the characters of The Last Wish, how they really pushed the next chapter for Puss in Boots, and how the actors contributed to the movie’s story. They also share how their recording process worked, and what it is about Puss in Boots that makes him such a beloved character for all ages. You can check out all of this and more in the video above, or you can read the full transcript below.

Image via DreamWorks Animation

When did you realize that the sequel was, “Oh wait, this is really good?”

SALMA HAYEK: When we were working together, we really spent the time to explore the characters and the real issues, and look into the relationship with the other characters. It was never just saying lines. We really did the work together. Almost more than in a regular film because sometimes in a regular film people are not rehearsing anymore, everything is hurry, hurry, hurry. And he had a wonderful process of exploring the characters and the story, and the different meanings that we could bring, “What was our contribution to the audience through the characters today?”

And I knew it was something special because also – I love this – I believe in intention. I believe that it’s important to always be aware of your intentions. And it felt I was doing a movie – collaborating – with people that had an intention that was beyond, “Let’s do a hit movie. Let’s say something, and let’s say something also visually. How do we translate what we’re trying to say with the plot, with the narrative, with the characters also visually?” And for me, that was mind-blowing. So I knew it quite early on in our character development together.

JOEL CRAWFORD: And it’s interesting because it was the same reaction where we set out to go, “We can really push this next chapter of Puss in Boots.” Visually, like you’re saying, everything looks like you’re in a fairytale painting, tonally that we go to some new territory, especially in a Shrek world. But I think, right away, working with Salma and Antonio [Banderas], I was just blown away by [to Hayek] you were always asking questions, going deeper. Even if it was comedy, it was like, “What’s underneath this? What’s the character’s objective here?” And really how it tied into the theme of the movie.

HAYEK: What does she really feel underneath the sarcasm, the sassiness? Every single line. And he was game, and he was amazing.

CRAWFORD: We played a lot and really explored. And I think you feel that there’s a spontaneity between all of the characters that really comes so much from this process.

HAYEK: I love comedy, I love it. But honestly, I hope this doesn’t come the [wrong] way, to me, it’s really easy. It’s really easy. We could improvise a thousand times. “What else can we do besides the comedy, or through the comedy?” I love it.

It’s like, I don’t know, I guess it depends what family you grow up [in]. It’s like a chip or something, and you are always making the joke. I don’t know, I don’t know. But for me, what I loved was what else is underneath it and how does it fit in this new universe that has to be part of an old universe. How do you make that old universe refreshing? Fascinating.

Image via DreamWorks

One of the things about animated movies is that they can often change dramatically during the production. And I’m curious, how did this film possibly change from when you first started to what people are seeing on screen?

CRAWFORD: It’s interesting because Dreamworks has been trying to figure out this next chapter for over a decade. And in the process, figuring out what’s not just making another one just to make one. But I think, when I came to the project there was this nugget of an idea. Puss is on his last of his nine lives. And for me, it was just such a great opportunity to go, “That’s an absurd idea.” It’s like you’re a fairytale that cats get nine lives, but, at the root of it, it’s about someone who’s realizing they have one life and all of us as human beings get one life.

And for me, it was exciting to go, “This can be a movie that celebrates the gift of life.” But how we get there and what the end looks like I didn’t know. And that’s the fun of, I think, filmmaking, of this process where it is such a collaborative effort. [There are] over 400 people that work on these animated movies. And then when we have [an] amazing cast that really brings so much, not just reading the lines, but to the partnership of creating the story, the themes, the character. It really evolved. It’s such a beautiful end result. Way more beautiful than I would’ve pictured.

I know a lot of people that do voiceover stuff and have recorded voiceover, and one of the things they talk about is recording efforts and how much they dread it. Salma, I’m curious for you, do you dread those days where you have to record the grunting, the running, those sounds?

HAYEK: No, love it.

CRAWFORD: Because nothing is generic with you.

HAYEK: John will not shut up while you’re doing that because he’s describing. Of course, you’re not looking at it. Sometimes when you do ADR, you’re watching the film, and you’re like, “Oh.”

He’s like, “And they’re going under this flower that is going to be purple. But it’s very big, but it’s very scary, the flower. So when you go down you have to…” The level of detail. And my brain works only in images, so I could actually be there without seeing it. I love imagining the flower and doing it, and he keeps talking to you, “And now you’re going to be doing this and that.” So it was fun.

CRAWFORD: I mean, that’s why I found that depending on what I described to you, nothing’s generic. So the effort changed. And so even every detail of this, down to the effort, is so specific to Kitty Softpaws’ character. That really just forms the experience, the ride.

HAYEK: I love it. It’s playing like when you’re a kid.

Puss in Boots is a very popular character with a lot of people. I’m curious for both of you, what do you think it is about the character that resonates with so many people of all ages?

CRAWFORD: For me, I think there’s something in this adorable little cat, he is just a two-and-a-half-foot tall cat. But with Antonio’s voice, the charisma, he has the bravado of an eight-foot-tall man, and there’s something in that contrast that is both adorable and aspirational. I think that that’s something that’s very charming about it to me.

HAYEK: I’m going to be… oh God, I hope I don’t get into trouble.

CRAWFORD: I love when she says this.

HAYEK: There is an unapologetic, and also naive, charming narcissism.

CRAWFORD: She nailed it.

HAYEK: That it’s irresistible because it doesn’t mean anything… All he wants to do is do good things for others. And it’s one of his weapons. You know? This delusional, unapologetic narcissism. And in this movie, you see the fragile part, and you love him all the more because of it.

CRAWFORD: Yeah, you see what’s behind the bravado because I mean, he sings a song about himself at the beginning. And it’s like you say, it’s charming. The arrogance is charming.

HAYEK: Right because he’s not a bad arrogant cat. He’s a nice good cat. He wants to do good for the world. And one of his weapons is his very robust self-esteem.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish hits theaters December 21. For more on the film, check out Collider’s interview with co-star Harvey Guillén below:

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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