Hey, not all superheroes wear capes—or have two legs. In the animated film DC League of Super Pets (in theaters July 29), Krypto the Super-Dog (Dwayne Johnson) must convince his pal Ace the Bat-Hound (Kevin hart) and a ragtag group of animals to help rescue the kidnapped Justice League superheroes. Johnson and Hart tell us more.
How do Krypto and Ace fit into the DC universe?
Johnson: Krypto plays a very large role in the DC universe. Krypto is Superman’s best friend, Superman’s dog. I had such a great time playing Krypto from a creative standpoint. It was a lot of fun to bring this character to life and one of the exciting parts about playing Krypto was being able to really create him from scratch. There had not been a reference on the big screen in animation of Krypto ever. So you have an opportunity here to create a character that did exist and does exist in the DC world, but from there create from scratch in terms of how he talks, his sense of humor, his personality and intonation and all of the other feelings and emotions that Superman’s best friend has. It was a lot of fun. That was on the creative side as an actor.
Now from a producorial standpoint, for our company Seven Bucks to come in and partner with DC to produce this film, it was very exciting for us as well. This was a first for Seven Bucks Productions, and one that we were all very excited to work on, because we saw a really wonderful opportunity here to not only continue to work very closely with our partners at DC, and our partners at WB, with whom we also have black adam coming down the pike. Perhaps even bigger than that, the opportunity to deliver for families around the world. That was an opportunity for all of us at Seven Bucks that we really wanted to take advantage of and we took a lot of pride in. To create and deliver Super Pets to families around the world this July is a very exciting thing for all of us.
Hart: Ace is in a shelter, and he doesn’t want to be here. He’s got better things to do, better places to be, but he’s built a relationship with these other pets that are in this same shelter. But Ace is a mastermind, and he tries to escape. And his plans get halted, and he winds up back at the shelter. Ace is a rebel, but through the story, you find out that Ace is a loving dog, with a big, loving heart. He’s a protector, a caregiver, who would do the things that he feels he needs to do to protect those around him. That’s a rare quality. And him being all of those things pays off, and he winds up with Batman.
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Aside from getting to work in your PJs, what’s the most fun about being an animated character? What are the challenges?
Hart: You really gotta put yourself in the shoes of the character you’re playing. It’s not just about the voice, it’s about the attitude. Ace has an attitude. There was a cadence that I went into understanding, that I used to help me pull off his growth throughout the story. He’s a character who’s forever correcting someone. “You don’t know nothing”—he’s that guy. And, once you hold onto these little nuances that you build and create, you find yourself rolling and evolving.
Johnson: I’m wired a bit differently from everybody else, so when I come to do my animation work, unlike my friends I don’t come in PJs or casual, comfy, cozy clothes. I come to do business and I come in hot. But that’s a funny point, though, and that’s the part about animation that a lot of actors really enjoy. It’s the less intense, laid-back atmosphere of animation when you’re laying your voiceovers down and you can sit down, stand in the booth, have your coffee, tea, eat whatever you want and be in your PJs and be really comfortable. That’s one of the many appeals to being an animated actor and doing a big, animated movie like Super Pets.
However, for me personally, the challenge is that I enjoy being on a working set where there are hundreds and hundreds of crew members all doing their job brilliantly and effectively, and we have a full crew and a full house and there’s a lot happening. The director will yell action and yell cut. I enjoy that process and part of filmmaking. Again, I’m wired differently. When I do get into the animation booth it’s a bit of a challenge. But once I find my groove, my anchor, and I have a great relationship with the writers and the director, we can get into a groove with those I’m working with and we can really have some fun in the animation booth. At times, I treat my work as if I’m a horse running in a big race; I don’t like to get stuck in the stables. But in the end, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment and every part of the process in making Super Pets. And again, I can’t wait for families to see this movie.
Were you ever in the booth to record together or did you always record solo?
Hart: When you’re doing animation, you have to trust in the other people in the cast, because you’re not in the booth together. You want to know that your partner is doing the same work, if not better than you. I think Dwayne and I know each other’s cadences, each other’s tones. I think there’s a nice little comedy seesaw that we’re able to provide while staying true to the story, because we’ve worked together so much. I knew what I was going to get on the other side. I think he knew what he was going to get. It’s good and we connected the dots appropriately.
Johnson: The majority of our work we were solo, and that’s the fascinating thing about animation, much like music, the artists don’t have to be together in the same room. However, Kevin and I did make a point to get together and we did record a handful of our bigger scenes together because ultimately Kevin and I, and our director Jared and our producers, felt we had a real opportunity here; if we got together in the same booth, our chemistry is really dynamic, and it really jumps off the page. And especially when we are together in person, it just becomes a different energy in the room and the air shifts. Kevin and I wanted to do this for the fans, and some of those scenes when fans watched the movie, their reactions have been phenomenal. We’ve had some early test screenings, and these particular scenes where we are together, these big pivotal scenes, you can really tell, and the audience really feels it. Now the scenes we were not together, they will never know, much like making music when you’re not recording together, you will never know. But the moments in the movie where audiences are really moved with emotion, that’s when we were together in the same booth.
Who is in the DC League of Super Pets cast?
Dwayne Johnson voices the animated Krypto the Super-Dog, a Labrador retriever and Superman’s best friend and dog.
Kevin Hart voices Ace the Bat-Hound, a hound who acquires the powers of super strength and invulnerability and Batman’s dog.
Vanessa Bayer voices PB, a potbellied pig who acquires the power to grow and shrink in scale.
Natasha Lyonne voices Merton, a turtle who acquires super speed.
Diego Luna voices Chip, a squirrel who acquires electric powers.
John Krasinski voices Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman, a superhero from Krypton who protects Metropolis. He’s Krypto’s owner.
Keanu Reeves voices Bruce Wayne/Batman, a vigilante who protects Gotham City and Ace’s owner.
Marc Maron voices Lex Luthor, the CEO of LexCorp and Superman’s archenemy.
When does DC League of Super Pets come out?
DC League of Super Pets arrives in theaters Friday, July 29, 2022.
How to watch DC League of Super Pets?
DC League of Super Pets is being released only in theaters.
Is there a trailer for DC League of Super Pets?
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