Zootopia’s Nick Wilde is a sly fox, a hustler getting by on making a quick buck off of unsuspecting Zootpia residents. His life changes when he runs into Judy Hopps, a rabbit cop, who isn’t the “dumb bunny” he expected. She actually gives Nick a taste of his own medicine when she hustles him!
Jason Bateman does a fabulous job voicing Wilde. His smooth voice suits Wilde’s conspiring character. Bateman asked the film producers if they wanted him to put on any sort of voice. Their response? “No. You sound conniving enough!”
Zootopia is Jason Bateman’s first full-length animation and he was excited to be a part of the film. This role is different from Bateman’s other projects- Zootopia is a movie for the entire family. He has two little girls aged nine and four and he’s aware that they’re going to see this movie and it fills him with pride. He admits that the only films he sees now are kids films and he hopes they’re all good or else he’ll catch a little nap. “But, with this one there won’t be any napping cause this company is so good at braiding stuff in there for us that whether it be thematic or just with jokes, there’s always that parallel lane of satisfaction for the adults.” Bateman continues to talk about his daughter, “There are some really great issues that, I don’t know if my nine year old really picks up on some of the nuance and sophistication of, these heady, highbrow issues yet, but I’ll bet you some of it kind of permeates, and when the coin finally does drop maybe when she’s another year older or something when we’re watching it for the 20th time at home, as we all buy it again when it comes on.”
There are strong messages within the film and Bateman explains how this film can be used as a tool, “As a dad, it’s hard to talk about racism or xenophobia or fear mongering or bullying. It’s when I have a character that I can pause and I can say okay, you see how that hippopotamus kind of gave a look to the… It kind of makes the medicine go down a little bit easier and it makes it a little less ominous for them to broach these subjects. It’s a nice tool for me as a parent. I like that.”
Bateman’s 9-year-old has seen the film and was focused on Shakira and Judy Hopps, the star of the movie. He appreciates Judy’s character, “We watch her perspective as she’s going to this big city to make it and is super optimistic and doesn’t have a lot of fear or judgement — it’s just a great message or character to follow and then have it all work out for her. She runs into somebody who says take it easy — the world’s not that great and in fact she perseveres and ends up making my character a little less pessimistic so it was fun to kind of look over and see her get all absorbed in it.”
Judy Hopps’ parents are a bit over-protective and fearful for their daughter. Is Bateman anything like Judy’s parents? Can he relate? “I’m really trying to be okay with the fact that I can’t keep her in a bubble and I can’t control her her whole life. And so, the only kind of peace that I can give myself is that I’m confident that she knows how to make good decisions so that’s my job. So, I will keep working hard to build her as good a car as possible so she can drive through it okay.”
I enjoyed listening to Bateman talk about his daughters. I’ve always been a fan of him and his work and this was a different side of him that I hadn’t seen (this film is a huge departure from his last film Dirty Words). It was nice listening to him talk fondly of his children especially when we got a glimpse of his beautiful smile! Jason is witty, attractive and a “fox” in person!
But, one important question about Wilde. What was Nick Wilde’s favorite color? Bateman had the perfect answer, “Probably green, because he’s a scam artist, he likes the cash.”
What else does the Fox say? You’ll have to see the film on March 4th! You’ll fall in love with the cunning Nick Wilde. He’s really just a misunderstood predator- in a striped tie.