Katherine Tolford, Enjoy!
GLENDALE -- A "skinny, scrawny guy with attitude" is how Mark
Pudleiner refers to Kuzco, the main character in Walt Disney's new
animated film, "The Emperor's New Groove."
The film, set in a mythical mountain kingdom, follows the
misadventures of an arrogant, egocentric young emperor named Kuzco (David
Spade) who gets turned into a llama by his power-hungry advisor, Yzma
A Glendale resident, Pudleiner is one of three animators who drew the
human version of Kuzco. Another team drew Kuzco as a llama.
"It was nice to get assigned such a different character," he said.
"He's not your typical character. He's kind of a jerk. You get to play
Pudleiner has also worked as an animator on "Fantasia 2000,"
"Tarzan," "Hercules," "Mulan" and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."
He and the other animators expressed Kuzco's attitude by focusing on
his mannerisms and facial expressions. Pudleiner's favorite scene is when
Kuzco receives his subjects while sitting on his throne.
"Instead of kissing the babies who have come to see him, he
rubber-stamps their forehead with kisses without even looking at them, as
he wipes his brow," said the 37-year-old.
Kuzco's facial expressions in that scene, he said, were modeled after
his 1-year-old son.
"I just thought of how my son looks at me when I touch his nose, it's
as if he's saying 'What are you doing?"' Pudleiner said.
The Kuzco crew did a lot of research in preparation for the film,
Pudleiner said. They observed llamas at the zoo, on a farm and up close
when a group came for a visit to the studio. They didn't let themselves
get caught up with the mechanics of things.
"In animation, some people like it to look right on, others like to
push the boundaries a bit," he said.
The film's director, Mark Dindal, encouraged them to have fun with the
story. The focus, Pudleiner said, was more about getting the comic
element across without sacrificing believability. Pudleiner found
"Groove's" "goofier and sillier feel" refreshing.
"It's just light and fun," he said.
From the dry one-liners of Kronk (the evil Yzma's thick-headed
assistant played by Patrick Warburton) to the slapstick physical comedy
stunts, Pudleiner believes there are humorous elements that will appeal
to adults and kids.
Although "Groove" doesn't have as serious an attitude as other Disney
films, Pudleiner said there's still a message to it.
"It's sort of a Scrooge story," he said. "The main character is a jerk
and doesn't care how he treats people, but in the end he becomes affected
by the people along his journey and he changes because of it. He learns
to treat people nicer."
THE PUDLEINER FILE
NAME: Mark Pudleiner, Kuzco animator on Disney's "The Emperor's New
FAMILY: Wife Shannon; sons Steven 4, Mathieu 1.
FAVORITE DISNEY CHARACTER: The Beast in "Beauty and the Beast."
FAVORITE DISNEY FILM: "Bambi."
FAVORITE DISNEY MOMENT: In "Dumbo" when Dumbo's mother rocks him to
PERSONAL QUOTE: "I was influenced by the emotional scenes in Disney
films. It's interesting to me to be able to get emotion across in an
animated film -- to get it across with drawing."