Q & A Session with Dan Fogler (of “Mars Needs Moms”) (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)
August 10, 2011 by Dennis Amith
With Seth Green and Joan Cusack of “Mars Needs Moms” having prior voice acting experience for an animated film or TV series, our third Q&A features actor Dan Fogler, who also has previous voice acting experience in animated films.
Fogler has starred in films such as “Balls of Fury”, “Fanboys”, “Take Me Home tonight” but also has provided the voices for Zeng in “Kung Fu Panda” and the Councilman/Yummo in “Horton Hears a Who!”.
In “Mars Needs Moms”, Fogler does the motion capture and also the voice of Gribble, the mysterious and lonely human who has secretly been living on Mars, who assists Milo in trying to find his mother.
The film also stars Seth Green (“Robot Chicken, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Austin Powers” films) who does the motion capture of Milo, Joan Cusack (“Toy Story 2 & 3″, “Say Anything”) as Mom, Elisabeth Harnois (“A Single Man”) as Ki and Mindy Sterling (“Austin Powers” films, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”) as the Supervisor.
With the August 9th release of “Mars Needs Moms” on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and DVD, J!-ENT will be showcasing Q&A’s with the talents of the film and with producer Robert Zemeckis.
We kicked off with actor Seth Green followed by actress Joan Cusack and this time around, we showcase Dan Fogler who talks about his experience working on the film.
What attracted you to the film Mars Needs Moms?
Dan: I wanted to be part of this movie because the concept was so cool. I’d never done performance capture before and I felt like I wanted to try it. I come from a theater background and the performance capture work felt like I was acting in a high-tech theater.
How would you describe your character in the movie?
Dan: I play a guy called Gribble who has been a cast away on Mars since the ‘80s. To be honest, he’s very similar to me. I just had to turn up the dial a little bit more. He’s like a bit teddy bear. He’s an emotional character with a lot of heart.
How do you get into character?
Dan: I decided to play Gribble as a big kid. I grew up in the ‘80s and I’m very much a big kid at heart, so it was fun and easy for me to get into character. I loved it. I basically had to play myself, although he’s a little taller and bigger than me in real life. Gribble is stuck in the ‘80s, which is where my formative years were. They said to me, “We want lots of references from the 1980s.” My reply was, “Excellent. No worries!”
Is the movie just for kids, or will adults also enjoy it?
Dan: There’s something for everyone with Mars Needs Moms for everyone. It’s funny, it’s action-packed and it’s heart wrenching… It’s an intense action movie with a heart. I was crying at the end of the movie when I saw it for the first time. A lot of people do. Anyone with a mom gets choked up at the end of this movie.
How would you describe your relationship with your mother?
Dan: I felt very loved when I was growing up. I had a very good home and my mother is all love. She is great. I honestly believe that she would go to Mars for me if she had to. We watched the movie together and she also started to cry at the end of it. She said to me, “This is the best gift you’ve ever given me.” That made me incredibly proud. You know what? I think mommies are going to love this movie.
How much fun was life on set?
Dan: It was very entertaining indeed. We did lots of stunts, harness work and wirework. In between takes, you’d find us doing Matrix moves or practicing kung fu on each other. We’d be flipping and kicking each other. It was a lot of fun.
How did you find the harness work on the film?
Dan: The zero gravity work was really interesting. Seth Green [who plays the lead character, Milo, in the movie] had to do it a lot more than me because my character wears a gravity belt, although I still had a 2lb helmet with mandibles to deal with. The outfit was very tight and gripping, but it was an entertaining experience. It felt like a very expensive playtime! It felt beautiful to be bouncing around on an antigravity surface.
Was there much time for improvisation on the set?
Dan: There was plenty of time for improvisation, which was fantastic. It was great. They let me run wild. I left it up to the editors to judge whether I had gone too far. I’m sure there’s plenty of material on the cutting room floor.
What’s it like to see yourself in 3D?
Dan: It’s very surreal. Suddenly your face and your actions are inside a giant, epic space comedy – but you never stepped foot on Mars or any Mars-like set. There’s a CGI character infused with your quirks and your essence popping out of the screen. It’s amazing.
How much did you enjoy the performance capture filmmaking process?
Dan: The shooting process was very surreal, but very enjoyable. We were flying around a huge studio in skin-tight suits with black dots all over our faces. It must have looked very strange to outsiders, but the process was incredibly freeing because it led to very spontaneous performances. When you shoot a regular live-action movie, you have to record the same scene a million times from a billion different angles. You don’t have to do that with performance capture. You record a scene around four times because there are cameras all over the studio picking up the action. I loved the process. We finished filming a week-and-a-half early, which is unheard of in movies.
What was your highlight to working with performance capture?
Dan: Performance capture is a joy if you come from a theater background because the acting process is very similar. You just have to carry on with a scene if you mess up because it doesn’t really matter. It’s so much quicker than anything else I’d ever worked on because there are no light changes and there’s no makeup. There’s also no waiting around, which is great.
What family film left a big impression on you growing up?
Dan: Disney’s Aladdin was my favorite movie when I was growing up. There were some great films out there in my formative years, but I especially loved that animation with Robin Williams as the genie. He’s a very similar character to Gribble. They are both trapped and they both have to work through some issues in order to help out their buddies. That movie had a big effect on me when I was a kid. I still love it to this day.
MARS NEEDS MOMS is Available August 9th on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray Hi-Def, DVD & Digital Movie Download!
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