Despicable Me 2, and the late replacement of Al Pacino

News Simon Brew 4 Jul 2013 - 06:09

The lid is lifted very slightly on Al Pacino's departure from Despicable Me 2, six weeks before release...

Despicable Me 2 is heading for $100m in the US by the end of the weekend, as Universal and Illumination Entertainment's return of Gru and his minions establishes itself as one of the biggest box office hits of the year. By distance. Given that the movie reportedly cost under $80m to make, it's also set to be one of the most profitable.

However, there's a story beneath the surface of the film's success that's still yet to fully come out. Just six weeks ago, with all of his dialogue recorded, Al Pacino quit the project, leaving the role of El Macho in the film without a voice, and with all the animation and mouth movements matching that of the actor. It's still unclear why he left, and it may be some time before we ever find out. But it's hard to overstate what a big deal it would be, having a significant member of the voice cast leave so late in the day. It can't be down to a quality issue. Pacino was in Jack And Jill.

Chatting to Variety, Illumination's Chris Meladandri said that "I’m not aware of any of the major animated films of the last 15 years that … has brought an actor in at such a late stage", and he's pretty much on the mark there.

So what happened after Pacino's exit? Well, the filmmakers went through the rest of their wishlist for the part, and settled on Benjamin Bratt, and for the actor, it was no easy challenge. Apparently, after a day of trying to precisely match the mouth movements left behind by Pacino's voicing of the dialogue, co-director Chris Renaud told Bratt to "stop thinking about anything other than what you're feeling from this character. Stop thinking about any voice that was done before and just own it".

Thus, while the facial ticks of Pacino's performance are inevitably still in the final cut of Despicable Me 2, Bratt tuned the rest of the role to himself. "I've never seen anything like it", said Meladandri. "You look in the eyes of this character and you listen to that voice, and there is a complete marriage of that vocal performance and that character performance".

Appreciating he's hardly going to say any different, he does still have a point. We've sat through Despicable Me 2 once, and the late substitution seems all but seamless. We're still curious just what happened to ignite the situation in the first place, though...

Variety.

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Love it, DoG with the claws out... "It can't be down to a quality issue. Pacino was in Jack And Jill."

Meow DoG, Meow!

haha his Oscar joke in Jack and Jill was the only time I remember laughing during that whole movie.

I had no idea he was even in this. You've piqued my curiousity, DoG team. Thou must follow through. Go forth and seek the answers, I beseech thee :)

Someone actually watched that film?!

and that awful sky advert

I raise a dunkaccino to you and bet it was because of the horrible racial caricature of El Macho. And yes, we're talking about the guy who also portrayed Tony Montana!

Al Pacino is cool.

It seemed like a very odd move at the time, and in fact still does. Surely if, like you say, he's recorded all his lines and the animators have made the character's mouth move like his, it'd be just easier to finish it off with him on the bill.
Full credit to the animators for re-doing it in such a short amount of time, but it just seems odd. I suppose they don't want to be associated with a guy who doesn't want to be associated with them

When in doubt, it has to be about money, right?

I think the amazing part is they didn't have to reanimate. Unless I'm reading the article incorrectly, Bratt did all the voice work and it just "fits" with the already animated stuff.

He has two modes: normal and yelling. He's basically the same character, Al Pacine, with different dialogue in almost every film. He's been in some incredible and influential films, but I really don't see why there's all the fuss.

I'm sure I'll get voted down like crazy...

You are correct sir. I misread. Seems they didn't have to reanimate. Still, seems like a dick move from Pacino

He got fed up with all the Minions asking him to do, "Say hello to my little friend..."

For the most part that can apply to alot of his most famous work, but one film that I definitely disagree and feel he is actually acting in is Godfather Part 1. Just watch the subtleties to his performance in scenes like the Restaurant shooting, I don't think he yells at anyone throughout the entire film. While you can argue that in Godfather 2 (and definitely Godfather 3) he does the typical Pachino performance, in the first Godfather he progresses Michael from naive college kid to cold-hearted gangster with an incredible amount of restraint!

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