The Princess and the Frog brings many vivid new characters for children to love to the screen – these include Naveen (Bruno Campos), a spoiled and irresponsible prince who is turned into a frog by the evil Dr Facilier (Keith David), a devious scoundrel, who works his magical spells with the help from his friends from ‘the other side,’ in other words, spirits and ghosts.
I spoke with Bruno and Keith, who bring their distinct voices to these characters at the press junket for the movie.
Bruno, did you channel anyone to find your inner prince?
Bruno: I was actually channeling my dad throughout the whole movie. He’s a funny, upstart guy. That’s where I got my inspiration. That’s what I was channeling.
This was your first animated voice, how hard was it to do?
Bruno: I had never done anything like this before and it was very contrary for me. I felt like I was throwing up the windows of a house first and just suspending them there. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t trust how this was going to, all of a sudden, come together. I’m used to preparing a part and executing it. Here, we’d go as we went.
They’d give me a scene and say, ‘Read that,’ and so I’d read it. Then, they’d say, ‘Okay, now do it again, except this time, you’re really mad.’ I’d do that. And, they’d say, ‘Okay, now do it again, except this time, you’re running.’ I’d say, ‘Where am I running to?’ and they’d say, ‘We’re not sure yet. Just run.’ I’d say, ‘All right, where am I coming from?’ and they’d be like, ‘Listen, you’re asking too many questions.’ So, after about a month of that, I started to groove with it.
How did you get inspired to voice such a sexy, charming character?
Bruno: A lot of pampering. The thing that I always found funny about this character is that he gets turned into this slimy frog and, for the entire movie, his attitude is, “I’ve still got it!” I just thought that was so hilarious, and that reminds me of my dad. I was inspired by how hilarious that was to me because it was so comedic.
Keith, what was it like to play the evil villain, Dr. Facilier?
Keith: I was surprised at the effect of the whole. There was a moment when I sat back and went, ‘Wow, that is kind of scary.’ When all the spirits come out and he sends them to get Tiana, I was like, ‘Holy crap!’ I’ve got a 5-year-old kid and she may freak out a few times. Not to the point where she’ll have nightmares, but she’ll grab onto me and bury her head in my arm.
Anybody who’s a fan of horror goes to the movies just to get that feeling and then get over it, as soon as the credits start to run. You want that feeling. If you get anything less than that, it’s not quite as satisfying.
How did you approach the way you sang for the role of the Facilier?
Keith: The music dictates how you deliver it. Randy Newman has his own particularities. You’ve got to sing it the way he wrote it. I was only too glad to be singing it. Thank God, I could sing my own music and got a chance to do it. It was a grand opportunity that we were able to participate in.
Filmmaking is the ultimate art of collaboration. One of the reasons why they pick you, as opposed to somebody else, is because of what you bring to the table. Every actor has their own particular uniqueness. We all try to channel that uniqueness through these characters.