Andy Samberg learns to loosen up in ‘Storks’
Andy Samberg seems to be everywhere you look (and listen) these days. He’s starring in and producing the hit show “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” he returns every once in a while to his old “SNL” stomping grounds, he’s in the midst of making the third installment in the successful “Hotel Transylvania” franchise, he’s still a member of the 15-year-old music-comedy trio The Lonely Island, and he’s the lead voice in the new animated film “Storks,” playing Junior, the ambitious wannabe boss of a package delivery company. Samberg, 38, sat down recently in Los Angeles to talk about “Storks” and the art of animation acting.
Q: How was Junior initially presented to you?
A: He’s a stork at Stork Mountain who works at Cornerstore.com. He’s sort of a top gun stork deliverer of packages. He’s got his eyes on becoming boss, and the story finds him on the eve of fulfilling that goal. He’s told by HIS boss that the only thing he has to do is fire this girl who works there, and he thinks, “No problem!” But it proves to be much more difficult than he thought it would be.
Q: If I hadn’t seen your name in the opening credits, I probably wouldn’t have known it was you, till maybe a third of the way into it, when some inflections in your voice made it clear.
A: Well, thanks. That’s what you always want; you always want it to be the character. You never want people in the theater thinking about who did it, trying to imagine the real person in the booth. You want to be immersed in the story, and taken away.
Q: You’ve done lots of voice work. Are there any particular things that you really like and really don’t like about it?
A: The thing I like the least about it is how little credit I get (laughs). But what I like about it is not having to wear makeup, and how low of a commitment it is, time-wise, and still getting to be in a movie.
Q: Does it allow you to get to be a little bigger and crazier in your performance?
A: Well, I don’t rein it in too much even when I’m on camera, but it is very freeing and fun, especially the way this one was set up. For the majority of my stuff it was (lead actress) Katie Crown and me and (director) Nick Stoller in the studio. We’d do 3- or 4-hour improv sessions. You’d get it scripted, and then Nick would start throwing ideas at us, and giving us lines to try, and we’d build on that.
Q: Your first voice acting job was “Space Chimps,” close to a decade ago. Has your approach to the craft changed much since then?
A: Oh, yeah. I didn’t know anything about it when I made that movie. I was just on “SNL” and they asked me if I wanted to do it, and I said sure. I pretty much did the whole thing alone, in a tiny studio in Manhattan, and then the movie came out, and I thought, “OK, I guess that’s what it’s all about.” In the ones that I’ve done since then, the process was radically different. Working with (directors) Phil Lord and Chris Miller on the “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” movies was kind of similar to working with Nick, though I was alone actor-wise more often on those, and then on the “Hotel Transylvania” movies I did with Adam Sandler, we would try to be in the booth together as much as possible. But never to the extent of this one. And I think that speaks to the difference in the tone of “Storks” because there’s a looseness to the voice performances. When I watched it, just as a viewer, I felt there was a crackle to it that feels very real.
“Storks” opens on September 23.
— Ed Symkus covers movies for More Content Now.