It’s not every day that this girl gets to meet the talented people behind movies. This includes actors, directors, voice actors, producers, agents, etc. When I was asked to go and cover this event by my friend Heather from Pink Ninja Blog, I was ecstatic! I played the original game when it first came out, and I’ve followed the game since 2002! The movie was long awaited, and who doesn’t want to meet the mastermind behind TMNT – Kevin Munroe? Not to mention the beautiful and talented Bella Thorne, and the man of a thousand voices James Arnold Taylor? Exactly! So I packed my bags and off to LA I went for the Ratchet and Clank Press Junket.
We stayed at the luxuriously chic Sixty Hotel Beverly Hills! Yes, you read that correctly Beverly Hills! Check out this view and pics!
It was truly an unforgettable experience and one that I don’t think can ever be replicated in any way shape or form! Even
Even though it was raining, the clouds parted ways while we were on our way to the Four Seasons Hotel for the press event! Outside the we were met by the gorgeous Marilyn Monroe!
Once inside we headed over to the conference room where we anxiously waited for Kevin, Bella, and James to come in and spill all of their deep, dark secrets! Okay actually we just wanted to know how they enjoyed making Ratchet and Clank, what their vision was, did it come to fruition, etc.
Finally the honor of interviewing Bella Thorne – the voice of Cora, James Arnold Taylor – the voice of Ratchet, and Kevin Munroe the Director of Ratchet and Clank was bestowed upon us. It was an amazing experience being in the same room with such amazing talent! All three were eager to answer our questions and were excited to do so. Not to mention that they were all excited too for the movie premier! We asked them many of the questions that you asked and I’m sure many of them were answered. Check out the whole interview below:
PRESS: I wanted to know – you’ve worked on both films and video games in the past.
KEVIN MUNROE: Yeah.
PRESS: So I want to know – do you feel like they give an advantage in being able to translate this video game into a good movie?
KEVIN MUNROE: Umm – yes, and no. I mean, I think like at the end of the day, it’s probably – it’s all about just finding a good story, and really trying to find that. But no – it definitely – because I was working at a company called Shine Entertainment, back in the mid-90’s. I was Canadian – I was – I still am Canadian, I guess. But I came down to California, and I had animation training. And so where do you get a job? And video games at the time were really friendly with that. And so my first in was through video games. And the company had done a game called Earthworm Jim, that was – felt like you were playing a cartoon. And so that, to me, always resonated. And from there, that project I think gave birth to a lot of projects like Ratchet and Clank, and these very sort of game – or it’s not game, sorry, these very character driven kind of properties and stuff. And so I think knowing kind of the background of that, I think I tonally knew what everybody was going after. It was a very familiar world for me I think, coming from the 1 Ratchet and Clank PC silliness of that sort of Shine-y Entertainment, Earthworm Jim era, and [INDISCERNIBLE] like Hooper, and Crash Bandicoot and all those things came about. So – and what’s great now is that it’s just – it’s all about the story. It’s not – I don’t – it doesn’t matter if it’s a game, or if it’s a movie, or a TV show. It’s all about just experiencing, even on your phones – like it’s just – it can be – you can just experience a story anywhere. And so ultimately, it came down to that.
PRESS: I thought the music was groovy.
PRESS: Can you talk about the music and the score?
KEVIN MUNROE: The score was great, because there’s – Evan Wise is the composer. And he, it was his first film, I think, that he had fully composed. And so it was fantastic. And he had – and to me, it’s never about experience. It’s always about just – do you want it, and do you have something to say. And the best part was that Evan did, which was really great. And so he had been working for years, obviously, composing stuff. But just to be able to give him an entire film like that. And so yeah, it was a crazy journey because the movie has so many elements in it, in terms of comedy, and action. And when you’re – well, I’ve done it in a poor way before – or in a challenged way, maybe, trying to balance some elements on other projects where you – how much do you balance action versus horror, or something like that. And so the same thing with this. It’s – you’re mixing a lot of tones. And so you need something, I think, that sort of ties everything together. And to me, it was – the music was the chance to really do that. And 2 Ratchet and Clank PC so it was great because he hit some parts that were really great, driving action, and other parts that were, just sort of had that ambling kind of heart. And then at the same time, he really worked in this fun thing, where it was almost like a Carl Stalling Looney Toons kind of vibe, where we’d have a joke, and then the score would go like, do-do-dodo. You know – like – it’s funny, right. And – but there is something about it – there’s so few movies that you could get away with that, and definitely none of the big studio sort of animated films like that. so I think what was fun with this is that we sort of have an advantage with Ratchet, where you can give those sort of nods. And to do them musically was great, so –
PRESS: What inspired you to write Ratchet and Clank, and what’s the biggest challenge making the movie?
KEVIN MUNROE: Thank you for your question. What inspired me to write it? Well, I actually did – there’s something called a first draft, where the first writer, T.J. Fixman came in. And T.J. actually had actually worked in the video games, I think for over 10 years or so. And he had a fantastic first draft that was just filled with so many characters, and so much story, that my job came in, and it was basically just to find the movie that we were telling within that – because there were all these other stories where we met his dad at one point in the script, which is a great story line, but that’s its own movie, you know. And so it was – we had – and as – if you’ve seen the movie, there’s already enough in there. I know that we pushed the boundaries. And what was your second question? I don’t listen to myself – I’m sorry.
PRESS: What was your biggest challenge making it?
KEVIN MUNROE: Oh. The biggest challenge was, I think, taking – because the game has been around since two thous– – the game’s older than you are, right? And so it’s 3 Ratchet and Clank PC been around since 2002. And so the thing is, whenever you have something that’s so big – it’s almost like Lord of the Rings, you know, where you’ve got 10,000 stories that these guys have gone on and done – and adventures, and characters. And so the question really becomes – what’s the story you want to tell – which is, we wanted to tell how Ratchet and Clank met, and how they got to become the heroes of the galaxy; and basically making sure that you can just tell the story, just using the elements to make sure you can do that to start. And then hopefully if everything goes well, we get to tell a whole bunch more stories. So. Thank you.
PRESS: Did you envision the actors that were – that did their voices? ( Ya’ll this was my question! I got to ask this one!)
KEVIN MUNROE: You know, it’s funny – especially with animation, I don’t – I don’t like to fall prey to the whole – ‘we need to get a name actor in there’. To me, it’s always just about the character. And so sometimes it’s worked out really well. Whenever we did the Ninja Turtle movie, in 2007, it’s specifically with that, and also because James was my Leonardo in that, and James is Ratchet here, which is a crazy coincidence. But it was always about the character. It was never about like, ‘Can we get Brad Pitt to come do the voice of Leonardo’ or something – because it was always about, that character’s in there, so you need to have somebody who reflects that character. And so yeah, and so when it came to – so it was very simple when it came to the characters that were already in the franchise, like Ratchet, Clank, Qwark, and Dr. Nefarious. And so when it came to these new characters, what was great is that we just sort of created a character type. And the entire casting process, even though everybody likes to get really good names on the poster, and we have fantastic names on this poster – at the same time, it was always about – do they service the character – because I just would not want to hear Sly doing the voice of a meek little child or something, you know, as an example. So what 4 Ratchet and Clank PC was great is everybody came along, and they just – they took the character from there, and owned it, and sort of gave it their own twist, and developed it. And so it was great. So in short, it was always about the character to me, and sort of finding the character, and never casting the name. But we lucked out, and we got both.
PRESS: The fans for this game are very, very passionate. What was some of the biggest challenges in bringing their videogame world to the big screen?
KEVIN MUNROE: Yeah, you know – it’s funny, because I’ve had my run-ins with a few different fan groups, in terms of properties. And so some – and everyone has a different tone. Turtles fan groups were very, very wary, I think, because a lot of people have interpreted Ninja Turtles in a lot of different ways. So a lot of it was like, “Okay, what are you gonna do with it? How are you gonna screw this up?” kind of thing; whereas like the Ratchet fans have been so supportive, which is crazy. So I’m sort of not used to that energy. I’m kind of waiting for somebody to come, and like slap me on the back of the head, and – like – or somebody’s like, kneeling down behind me to do the bully push or something. But no, and it’s been an incredible fan base to work with. And so really, the biggest challenge is that games are such a user driven way of ingesting a story, or 6 Ratchet and Clank PC entertainment. It’s like comic books. You control how fast you flip. You control how much you stare at a panel. So you’re really directing it whenever you’re doing that. And so when you play the videogames, it’s pretty much the same thing. And so my – the notion of any time you do an adaptation like that, is that you have to find the tone of what works for the people who love it. And then your job is to then translate that love onto – into another medium. And so you try to take what people love about that, and stay true to that. So it has to be less about the details, and more about the feeling, and more about the tone, because eventually it has to become a movie. And so – and again, I think we just – we really kind of threaded the needle with this one, so.
PRESS: How did you navigate the game – because often when I see cartoon movies, they have a lot of subliminal, adult humor to it. And this one was very much a family, kid friendly – movie that adults could enjoy. But did you get any pushback saying, “We want more racy humor in it. We want some sex jokes,” or something like that.
KEVIN MUNROE: No – well, yeah – other than ‘kick some asteroid’ – it’s crazy. Yeah, whoever’s doing all those campaigns, and the tags with – some of them are pretty racy. As a parent, I’m just kind of like, “Ooh, really?” But okay. But it’s – but the best part is it’s always really true to what Ratchet and Clank is. And they’ve always had it. There’s – some of them are super cheeky, like ‘up your arsenal’ and stuff like that, like, for some of the videogames that they’ve done. And so you’re like – and so – but they’ve never done 7 Ratchet and Clank PC it as a – it was never a Shrek nod to parents. Like, the Ratchet and Clank people who created that, and they did those puns, they did it for the people who consumed it. It wasn’t for the parents of the people who consumed it. And so it was actually really – I think there’s always gonna be people who always want to have, like, “Oh, if Transformers just could have been R rated, it would have been so much…” But you’re like, “No, it’s Transformers. Come on.” And so in the same way with this, you look at the majority of these games have been rated E10, maybe. And so yeah, you can, of course, have a PG13 Ratchet movie. I don’t know if you need it, though. And so a lot of times it was just staying true to what Insomniac had already done, and not screwing it up. You know. Thank you.
PRESS: Are you more passionate directing, or writing?
KEVIN MUNROE: Umm, storytelling. That’s just a lame answer. But it’s true. I would say – and so to that, I would say – because it probably is more of a director’s medium, I think, for what I like to do. I think – because I love the combination of just visuals, and words, and music, and color. And I love the idea – like, you know, I started out mostly doing character design. I think my first job was on Hey, Arnold – at Nickelodeon, doing character design. And just the notion of – when you design a character well, just from the way they dress, to the way they stand, to the way their hair is – like, all that stuff – that can inform story; that can inform who they are. And I love the idea of when a design is so crisp and clear that you just go, “I need no words, at all.” And so to me, I think that’s probably the directing aspect of it. I just love the combination of all those things, and figuring out – and the balance of it. It’s just – and with this one, it was great, because I had never worked with Rainmaker before. They’re a fantastic studio. But I’d never really worked with most of the department heads, or any of the people there. And so it was all just kind of like jazz. It was like, we were on a tight schedule, and we knew we had to make the movies, and just showed up. And like, “This is what I do. And how do you play?” And this guy, “Well, this is kind of like what I do.” And so we’d take that, and 9 Ratchet and Clank PC then move it, and then sort of combine it with everything that Insomniac had created. And so that’s such a rush for me. I love that. Yeah. Thank you.
PRESS: It’s actually another follow-up. But if there’s another Ratchet and Clank movie, where do you see the story going to next?
KEVIN MUNROE: It’s gonna be – it’ll be a spinoff starring Ratchet and Cora. It’ll be great. It – no, it’s where can it go, you know. I think there’s a lot to – there’s a lot of themes with where Ratchet comes from, in terms of his origins. And there’s a lot of bigger themes like that. And the idea, now that they – that Ratchet joined the Rangers, and characters like Cora gave him such a hard time and really made him earn his place in the ranks – I think there’s so much – so many more adventures they could go on, I think, so. Yeah.
PRESS: So this is for James. Is there a difference in your approach between voicing, or recording for video games, and recording for films?
JAMES ARNOLD TAYLOR: Well, you know, I’ve had – I’ve been very blessed to be able to do quite a bit of both. And they are extremely different from each other. Videogames, you’re isolated, you’re all alone; you’re recording in your little padded room, talking to yourself, and you know, just a director feeding you lines. And in the film, we got to work together. I work with David. Bella and I didn’t, but that’s because of the restraining order. No – I kid. But Jim Ward, who plays Captain Qwark, and of course David Kaye, doing a wonderful job as Clank – we all got to work together; and Kevin giving us direction – that was fun. Totally different than a videogame. Animated series, you work like that. But that’s pretty uncalled – unspoken, in a film. So it was wonderful that we got to do it that way.
PRESS: Hi. This is for James. I enjoyed your livestream on Thursday. And where you were talking about really encouraging people to follow their dreams. And I noticed that that was a theme in Ratchet and Clank a lot, too.
JAMES ARNOLD TAYLOR: I think so, too. I think it’s pretty awesome, you know – it’s this wonderful thing of, you know, the underdog. And I kind of look at myself like that too, as I’ve always wanted to do these things. It’s been my dream to be a voice actor since I was four years old. And here we are now with this. And I get to have my name on a poster with Bella Thorne. That’s pretty darn cool. So – dream achieved. So yeah, I think it’s really important. And I think it’s a wonderful theme that kids, and families – and families can go together and see this movie. And they can see that sometimes your heroes aren’t exactly what they thought, and you can still pursue your dreams, and be the good guy, and save the day. Yeah, pretty cool.
PRESS: So, for Kevin. What – how different is it to direct a videogame, versus directing a film? Obviously, you were talking about sort of bringing the translated – you know, thing that you love, translating that to a different medium. But like what are the differences in actually directing one versus the other?
KEVIN MUNROE: Ah, you know, it’s just a different pencil, I think for the most part. It’s sort of like – it’s – and it’s taken a while because I think at the beginning, you sometimes think because it’s live action it has to be this way; or because it’s – and directing a live action film is really not much different than directing animation. It all comes down to lighting. And no one ever has enough money for lighting – whatever it is, every time. It’s – like, it always comes down to that. And so it’s always just about the story and characters, and finding just – like something fun you want to say. And then it’s a matter of just kind of knowing the tools of that medium. But to me, it’s been – my journey has been more about just discovering that it just needs to be about story, and then letting your actors just own the character, and let them create it with you, and not – and specifically not having all the answers. That’s, I think, one of the biggest thing. And so – but yeah, otherwise, it’s just a really good story. Yeah.
PRESS: Hi. This question is for Bella and James. Ratchet and Clank is such a playful project, that I was wondering what the most fun part of doing these voices was for you.
BELLA THORNE: The snacks. The snacks. It’s very fun. The hardest part about playing the character, is that what you said?
PRESS: The most fun.
BELLA THORNE: Oh, the most fun. The most fun about playing it was probably playing like a bad ass female Jake was super cool. When I walked in you guys were just like, “No, yeah, you can just use your dark voice, your…”
PRESS: I have a question for Bella. One of my readers wants to know when you’re going to write and direct your own film, because you totally have the brains and talent to do it.
BELLA THORNE: Thank you. Actually, my goal was to have my first self-directed short film premiere at South By Southwest next year, you know, and hopefully some other festivals. I love the creative process. One of the unfortunate things about this film was this character was already created when I came in, and stepped foot inside her. So that was fun and you know, interesting. But I would love to do some more live action animation, where actually get to go behind the scenes and you know, really go and literally create this character, because anything behind the scenes, to me, is just so cool.
PRESS: Hi. This question is for Bella. In doing this role, did you find your approach changed, doing it as a voice actress, instead of just as an actress on screen?
BELLA THORNE: Yeah. I mean, there’s so many different things that go into it. And you know, when you’re acting, you’re not acting with just – with just your voice; you’re acting with every part of you, which is, you know, really small things like, “Wow, would my character grab her hair this way? Maybe she wouldn’t because, you know, she’s very naïve, and she’s this, and this, and this.” And you know, there’s like a lot of things that go into consideration. But really on this one, I’m just – I’m watching a character and I’m just trying to be as most like her, and you know, make her come alive as I can. So yeah, it’s pretty different, but I still use my body a lot because just in the fluctuations of your voice, you know, they change so abruptly – when you just move your shoulder forward, just like the smallest bit. But the most annoying part was, I wear a lot of jewelry that’s under here. And every time, I’d be like, “Oh, my God, I’m gonna go kill him right now.”
They were so pleasant and easygoing. They cracked jokes at one another, and you could tell that the chemistry must have been phenomenal! James Arnold Taylor even posed for a few pictures with us!
After the interviews we were guided to the fifteenth floor where we had the chance to meet Ratchet himself! Of course I took a picture with him!
RATCHET & CLANK Opening in Theaters on April 29th!
Opening Nationwide April 29, 2016
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 94 Minutes
From Rainmaker Entertainment and Blockade Entertainment, Ratchet & Clank is a CG-animated movie based on the iconic PlayStation video game. Two unlikely heroes struggle to stop a vile alien named Chairman Drek from destroying every planet in the Solana Galaxy. Ratchet is the last of his kind, a foolhardy “lombax” who has grown up alone on a backwater planet with no family of his own. Clank is a pint-sized robot with more brains than brawn. When the two stumble upon a dangerous weapon capable of destroying entire planets, they must join forces with a team of colorful heroes called The Galactic Rangers in order to save the galaxy. Along the way, they will learn about heroism, friendship, and the importance of discovering one’s own identity.
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Disclaimer: This post is written in collaboration with Focus Features. Regardless, all thoughts, ideas, and opinions expressed are still 100% my own.