In his first animated movie, Planet 51, Dwayne Johnson voices the character of astronaut, Chuck Baker, who lands on Planet 51 and is surprised to find that it’s inhabited by little green people living in a world that is reminiscent of an idyllic 1950s America.
But Chuck soon discovers that he has to escape or become a permanent part of Planet 51’s Alien Invaders Space Museum.
What was it like to go through the experience of doing an animated film, as opposed to live-action?
At the end of the day, the process was a lot of fun for me, personally. I hadn’t done animation before. At one point, there was about six guys in the room, all giving their directorial opinions, and you had to interpret everything that they were saying, which made it challenging yet interesting and fun, at the same time.
How did doing something like this compare to the computer effect in The Mummy 3?
The difference was that, in Planet 51, I had to bring the character to life with my voice. With Mummy 3, it was Stephen Sommers saying, “Okay, and you have claws. You’re trying to get Brendan Fraser.” At the end of the day, the process was pretty fascinating. I thought the challenge was pretty cool.
How did you relate to your character?
My character is incredibly arrogant and loves himself. That’s me. (he laughs) No. I would say the parallels were maybe the fact that he was very entertaining and loved to entertain. And, he’s a pretty decent guy.
I will say that I really enjoyed the part in the movie where he reveals himself to Lem (voiced by Justin Long) and says, “Look, I’m not the guy you think I am. I’m not this great guy. As a matter of fact, you’re more of a man than I am. I’m inspired by you.” I love that.
Did this movie make you want to be a better person or make you want to contribute to changing the world?
Yeah. It had a utopian sense to it, which I thought was really cool. The writers and producers involved came up with a pretty cool concept. My take away from it was just to be better and wanting to live better.
As individuals, everybody wants to get better at whatever it is you want to do, whether it’s a better boyfriend, a better son or a better co-star.
When you saw the final product with the animation, did you see yourself in your character?
I couldn’t believe it. I was like, “Is that all you?” It was the coolest thing, when I finally watched it. For me, it was the first time that I had done an animation movie and tried to bring a character to life with my voice, pitch and intonation, which I thought was really cool.
Would you do it again?
Yeah, I’d do it again in a second. Whether it’s a live-action movie or it’s animation, it comes down to the story. If you’re compelled and moved by the story, you think you’re going to have fun, and you think it’s going to entertain audiences, which we all collectively felt that this would.
Was your daughter excited that you were involved with this?
It was interesting for her. She just turned eight, so she heard my voice, but in an animated way, and then saw me on screen, white and blonde. That was interesting to her, but nonetheless entertaining. So, she was excited.
Can you give us a quick update on Tooth Fairy, and will we see you in a tutu?
Tooth Fairy is very funny. I can’t wait. It will be out in January. You’ll see me in a lot of things in Tooth Fairy. The cast is great, with Ashley Judd, Billy Crystal, Julie Andrews and the great Stephen Merchant.
What do you like most about doing family movies?
For me, the goal was to work in as many different genres as possible and hopefully find good success in them. But, when you make a good family movie, there is an importance of it and great value to it.
If you make a good family movie, then everybody in the family can relate to somebody or, in the case of Planet 51, something. That’s always enjoyable. There’s always an important place for family movies.
Since you’re playing an astronaut in this, what do you think NASA will think of your character?
The studio has partnered up with NASA, so I had an opportunity to meet a couple individuals from NASA, who love the movie and love the message. They’re great guys.
How does that make you feel?
For me, it was just an honor to talk with the individuals from NASA, who are always cutting edge and who are responsible for so much.
To put it in perspective, we made a great animated movie and they were happy with the character of the astronaut.