Movie Sneaks: Jim Parsons on the acrobatics of his animated role in ‘Home’
Jim Parsons has won four Emmy Awards for his comedic turn as the brilliant but socially awkward theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper on CBS’ long-running hit “The Big Bang Theory.” Now he’s playing another smart misfit in DreamWorks Animation’s “Home,” which opens March 27.
Parsons stars in the animated family film as Oh, an adorable purple alien from a race of hive-minded creatures called the Boov that worship their leader, Capt. Smek (Steve Martin), and prize conformity above all else.
After the Boov arrive on Earth with an eye toward colonizing the planet, Oh strikes up an unlikely friendship with a feisty human girl named Tip (Rihanna), and the pair become fugitives from the alien overlords.
Though Parsons had done guest spots on animated TV series, “Home” marks his first starring role in an animated feature. While working on “Home,” he also did the NBC holiday special “Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas,” which premiered in December.
The actor recently chatted about “Home” and the joys of animation from New York, where he was spending the holidays.
Oh is quite the endearing creature.
I really, really like him. I saw a picture of him before I was ever cast and they were considering me. I just looked at him and said, “Am I appropriate to voice this?”... One has such a definitive view in their head of what they bring and what they do [as an actor], which is limiting. It’s good other people offer these opportunities. It just keeps you moving and trying new things.
Oh resembles you in some ways — in his eyes, his smile.
Once you start voicing it and they start coming back with your animations, you do realize they are allowing the creature — in this case — to take on certain qualities that you bring. Sometimes it’s facial expressions, the way his mouth moves when he talks. They told me from the beginning, “We will have a camera on you for every single session for that exact reason.”
How did you find the voice acting experience?
I have done 23 voice sessions in little over a two-year period... The very first session I had, [DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive] Jeffrey Katzenberg gave me the most wonderful advice. This is a very odd and unique situation for an actor if you have never done a full animated feature before. He said, “You are essentially blind, and you have to especially trust the director” — in this case, Tim Johnson — “and those guys and gals behind the sound board. If you can be comfortable with that, it’s a very enjoyable experience.”
Was he right?
It really was exactly like that. It’s you and the director and this microphone in front of you. I never left the studio without being soaked with sweat. It’s amazing how just standing behind a microphone was quite the acrobatic experience.
There are so many action sequences I found that there was really no better way than to try and replicate what the sound would be like in one’s voice when doing that than to do it. I would as much I could without disturbing the microphone run in place, and I would jump. It was as freeing an experience as an actor as I ever had.
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