In 2007, Alvin and the Chipmunks became a live action/CGI movie that grossed over $350 million worldwide – and you know what the means – a Squeakuel.
In the squeakuel the rock stars, Alvin, Theodore and Simon, are appearing in Paris when Alvin’s antics on stage result in their manager Dave Seville being rushed to the hospital for a prolonged stay. Dave sends the Chipmunks back to the States without him, placing his nerdy cousin, Toby (Zack Levi) in charge of them, who enrolls them in school.
When The Chipmunks agree to represent their school in a talent contest, they are shocked to discover a new group of female chipmunks in competition with them – the Chipettes – Jeanette (Anna Faris), Brittany (Christina Applegate) and Eleanor (Amy Poeholer). I spoke with Amy and Christina at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills about their new personas, as sexy rocking chipmunks!
Can explain this process to me? You do this in your natural voice but slower and they speed it up?
Christina Applegate: Slower and higher and then trying to have it sound like you would in a normal conversation because when you go slow you lose the humor. You lose the emotion.
Amy Poehler: It’s bizarre. It took a while to get used to.
How long did it take you to get into the technique and did they play it back for you immediately so that you could understand what you were doing?
Amy Poehler: Yeah. That was really helpful. You did it and then they’d play it back for you and in the beginning you’d think, ‘Oh, this seems unusually slow,’ and then when they’d play it back for you you’d realize that it was unusually fast. So you realized that you had to slow it down even more. What was kind of hard to do was to just be amazed over a longer period of time. So instead of going, ‘Oh,’ you had to go, ‘Oooohhhhh’ and it comes out like, ‘Oh!’
Was it hard to get your characters to sound different from each other?
Amy Poehler: With this film you really had to sit in the room with the producers and figure out where you were at. We had to make sure that Christina, Anna [Faris] and I were playing different characters and even though the sound is very similar you want there to be something that’s distinctive about your character. So it was working with that a little bit, too. It was a very different experience.
Did they videotape you while you were recording?
Amy Poehler: Just for some DVD stuff later, but luckily not during because I think we would’ve looked crazy.
Christina Applegate: We would’ve looked insane, because [we were talking] really slow.
Was there training beforehand?
Christina Applegate: No. They just kind of throw you in there and you just start. It took me like a good first session to really get the hang of it, and then towards the end when it was too late and I only had like two lines to come in and do I was amazing. It was hard to really get that cadence and still make it sound adorable and funny and have the timing.
Did they tell you how they knew your voices were going to work as a chipmunk voices?
Christina Applegate: I don’t know. I mean, I think you can make anyone sound like a chipmunk but I think that Anna and Amy and I kind of bring a comedy aspect to it.
Did you see The Chipettes from past films or are these new Chipettes?
Amy Poehler: Well, I think that you would say that they’re new and improved. I didn’t see any of their stuff beforehand and then once I started doing this I said, ‘I don’t really want to see it,’ because I didn’t want to be influenced by anything. But they all have very distinctive personalities certainly in the movie.
Christina Applegate: I’d never really seen The Chipettes because that was way past my generation, so when they showed me some footage in the room after they had finally animated it, I was almost crying because I was laughing and so excited. They were so adorable with their little butts moving.