June 28, 2013

Anything But Despicable

The writers of Despicable Me 2 visit SCA

By Valerie Turpin

Those who are still on campus this summer were treated to a 3D, advance screening of the much-anticipated Despicable Me 2, as well as a Q&A with the film’s writers Cinco Paul, MFA Writing ’93, and Ken Duario. Moderated by SCA Director of Programming Alex Ago, the two discussed their methods for collaborating, creating accessible comedies and working with the film’s actors and animators to further the script.

When asked about how they worked as a team, the two writers gave the audience some insight into their relationship.

“Beautifully,” was Daurio’s obviously joking response to the question.

“I’m usually done first, so I sort of wait around for Ken to finish,” Paul quipped.

“The goal is to make the other guy laugh. The goal is to out-do the other guy. My pages, because I take more time, are usually the better ones,” Duario countered.

“That’s interesting,” said Paul.

Duario and Paul

Together, the team has penned several successful films including The Santa Clause 2, Horton Hears a Who! and The Lorax, as well as the original Despicable Me. While these films are family-friendly, the two explained the importance of not trying to simply write for a young audience.

“We each have three kids, but aside from that, we really don’t write these movies for kids,” explained Duario. “We really write for each other. I try to make Cinco laugh, he tries to make me laugh, so we don’t think, ‘What are kids going to like? What’ll appeal to the moms?’ I think that naturally just sort of happens, but we don’t really think about it.”

Said Paul, “I think if you ever think, ‘I’m writing this for families and kids,’ you’re kind of dead in the water. I think that’s the worst thing you can do. Of course, we’ll pull back if something seems to scare kids too much.” He then added: “But it’s good to scare kids every once in a while.”

Following infamous villain Gru’s new life’s calling as an adoptive father to three young girls, Despicable Me 2 once again has him and the gang working undercover, this time to save the world. The film stars Steve Carell, Kristin Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Russell Brand, Benjamin Bratt and Ken Jeong.

Both Paul and Duario agreed that a script can be elevated by the rest of the team. When asked about whether or not the actors have a say on their scripts, Paul said, “Absolutely; that’s why you hire these guys. You want them to bring something new to the role, you want their improv skills, especially with people like Steve Carell and Kristin Wiig. We would write the lines, they would say the lines beautifully and just go from there. That’s where so much fun and magic would come in the booth when they’d just go to weird and interesting places.”

The film’s animators are also a critical part of bringing this magic to life. Explains Duario, “There are certain areas where we know the animators are gonna have a lot of fun. We can give suggestions and we can outline something, but we know they’re gonna come up with a million ideas, and we’re going to pick the best ones.”

Despicable Me 2 opens nationwide on July 3, 2013.

For more information, please visit http://despicableme.com/