In the modern world of gaming, nothing encapsulates action comedy like Ratchet and Clank. The series is based on a very popular science fiction, action-oriented video games created and developed by Insomniac Games and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It has been 14 years since the first title launched, and its popularity has grown to the point where it has become a full-fledged movie. Featuring the voice talents of Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Bella Thorne, Rosario Dawson, James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, and Sylvester Stallone.
We had a chance to sit down with James Arnold Taylor, Bella Throne, and director Kevin Munroe. Check out what we learned about the film after the jump.
1 – Emphasizing The Importance Of Story
Having already worked in both the video game and film industry, Munroe feels as though there are some advantages he had coming into directing Ratchet and Clank. For him, it is finding a good story. “What is great now is it’s all about the story,” Munroe said, ” it doesn’t matter if it is a game or if it’s a movie or if it’s a TV show, even on your phones, you can experience a story anywhere.”
2 – Inspiration Behind The Film
Munroe was inspired by the first draft of the film. Written by T.J. Fixman, the screenwriter has been involved with the video game franchise since 2007. “He had a fantastic first draft that was just filled with so many characters and so much story,” Munroe said, “My job was to find the movie we were telling with that story. There were all these other stories in the script. At one point we met his dad, which is a great storyline, but that’s its own movie.”
3 – The Difference Between Voicing Video Games And Films
There is an art to recording voices for any entertainment medium, whether that is TV, film, or video games. Taylor who has had experience in all three tells us that there is a bit of difference in his approach to voicing video games and films. “I’ve been very blessed to do a quite a bit of both, and they are extremely different from each other. Video games you are isolated. You are all alone. You’re recording in your own padded room talking to yourself and there is a director feeding you lines. In the film, you get to work together,” Taylor said. The voice actor did admit that he did not get a chance to work with Throne.
“Because I was the only one not invited,” she joked, “I just want to make that clear.”
Taylor says that a majority of the cast did get a chance to come together to record their voices.
3 – Biggest challenge
Since the game has been around since 2002, it has built a massive fanbase. “The thing is whenever you have something that is so big, it’s almost like Lord of the Rings where you’ve got 10,000 stories going on, and adventures, and characters, so the question really becomes the story you want to tell. We wanted to tell how Ratchet and Clank met, and how they became heroes of the galaxy.”
4 – Fan response, challenges
Munroe is no stranger to taking on franchises with a huge fan base. But he knows that they can be different. The director took on a film adaptation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 2007, and he realized that they can be weary since they were watching him to see how he will screw up their beloved heroes. However, with the Ratchet and Clank film, they have been fully supportive. “I’m sort of not used to that energy,” Munroe said, “I’m just waiting for someone to slap me on the back. It’s been an incredible fanbase, but the biggest challenge is games are such a user driver way of ingesting a story or entertainment. Just like comic books where you control how fast you flip a page or how long you stare at a panel. So you’re really directing it. So whenever you are playing video games, it is really the same thing. You have to find the tone for the people who love so your job is to translate that love into another medium. So it has to be less about the details and more about the feeling and tone.”
5 – Make It Appealing To Kids And Adults.
“The best part is that it is true to what Ratchet And Clank really is,” Munroe said. “They’ve always had it like ‘Up yours’ and stuff like that. But it was never a Shrek nod to parents. Like the Ratchet and Clank people who created that, they did those puns, they did it for the people who consumed it. I think there is always people who always say ‘Oh Transformers would have been so good if it was R-rated,’ no it’s Transformers. C’mon. So in the same way with this, a majority of these games have been rated E10. So yeah of course, you can have a PG-13 Ratchet Movie, I don’t know if you need it, though. So a lot of times it was staying true to what Insomniac had already done and not screwing it up.
6 – Envisioning Actors As Characters
For Munroe, he doesn’t envision the voice talents as their characters. Because he works in animation he doesn’t like to fall prey to “we need to get a named actor” to fill the role. “To me it’s all about the character,” said Munroe. He wanted the right people that reflects that character. While the voice cast for the video games would reprise their roles for the film adaptation, when it came to the new characters, it was a matter of finding the right person. “The entire casting process even though everybody likes to get really good names on the poster, at the same time it was always about do they service the character because I would not want Sly [Stallone] to do the voice of a meek little child. What was great was that everyone came along and took the character from there.”
7 – Following you dreams
One of the biggest themes that Ratchet and Clank explores is “follow your dreams.” First appearances can be deceiving, as when one first looks at Ratchet they don’t exactly see a hero. But the lead character defies those expectations to be one of the galaxies greatest protectors. “It’s this wonderful thing of the underdog and I kind of look at myself like that too. I’ve always wanted to do these things. My dream was to be a voice actor since I was four-years-old. Here were are now with this, and I even got my name on the poster with Bella Throne, that is pretty darn cool. Dream achieved. I think it is a really wonderful theme. Families can go together to see this movie and they can see sometimes their heroes aren’t exactly what they thought and you still can be the good guy and save the day.”
Munroe says he wants viewers to take away more than just following your dreams. “It’s not just following your dreams,” the director says, “it’s finding your dreams. I think a lot of the time life will make you think that you’re supposed to be dreaming about something else, but really if you just listen to yourself, and know the things that make you happy, and know what you can do to make the world a better place, that’s what your dream should be. Not the big things, just the right things.”
8 – The Most Fun They Had Playing Their Character
While Throne jokes that the snacks were the best part about playing her character, Cora, she admits “the most fun about playing it was probably playing like a bad ass female chick. When I walked in, they were like ‘no, yeah, you can use your dark voice.'” She was actually unsure at first and asked Munroe if she should make it sound more girly. She added that another fun part was to stretch her personality to its limits just because she wasn’t playing so different a character from herself.
Taylor praised her for her efforts and even admits that he is afraid of her character. But for him, the character of Ratchet is his regular voice. “I’ve been Fred Flinstone, Johnny Test, and Christopher Walken,” Taylor said, “but with Ratchet, I see me. It’s very cool to get to do that.”
9 – Identify With Your Character
Throne says she relates to her character in many ways. The actress joked, “Super tomboy, you can’t probably tell from the way I am dressed, but in my personal life I definitely wear what she is wearing in the movie. ” She added “she’s not afraid to boss Ratchet around. At the end of the day, she might shoot first and asked questions later, which isn’t the best thing, but in her case, it works. She wants what is best for the team.
10 – Advice
Taylor credits his positive attitude as one of the reasons why he is where he is now. “I want other people to be able to achieve what I have achieved in my life, said the voice actor, “as a kid that sat there at four-years-old who wanted to do voices, I pursued it with a passion, and here it is. I tried to say positive. I had a lot of crazy stuff going around me and stuff that kids shouldn’t see, so I thought I wanted to stay positive. It’s what really kept me alive in some of those instances. I know for a fact it plays a part in my life and it plays a part in my career, and I am so grateful for it.”
“He is really one of the most pleasant people I’ve worked with,” Munroe chimed. Throne said, “So positive.” Munroe added, “You work with a lot of people, and some people aren’t pleasant, but specifically what pleasant is, James somehow lives up in the stratosphere.”
Taylor also credits Don Messick, who famously voiced Scooby-Doo and other classic Hanna-Barbara characters, as the person who helped him build his career. After working with Messick on a radio commercial in Messick’s home, Taylor admits he anxiously asked to meet up with him for some career advice. He agreed of course, and he said that the legendary voice actor was so “wonderfully humble and giving of his time.”
Ratchet And Clank is in theaters now!