Christina Applegate’s career has flourished since she became a star at a very young age in TV’s Married with Children. She’s gone on to leading roles in such successful movies as Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, The Sweetest Thing, Wonderland and recently starred in her critically acclaimed sitcom Samantha Who?
Dogs & Cats: The Revenge of Kitty Galore isn’t Applegate’s first venture into voice work – last fall she played Brittany, an adorable chipmunk in the singing group The Chipettes, in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.
She’s now portraying an adorable cat named Catherine, a member of the elite spy organization MEOWS. Her mission is to work with her former enemies, aka dogs, to stop Kitty Galore (Bette Midler) who has gone rogue, from taking over the world.
I spoke with Christina last week about her new challenge – to save the universe!
What was the best quality about Catherine?
Catherine’s an incredibly sophisticated, smart agent who’s very spy-like. She begrudgingly has to be teamed up with these dogs in order for her to stop Kitty Galore. I love her. I think she’s a really wonderful, rich cat.
Are you a cat or dog person?
I am a both person. I love all the animals. All shapes, colors, sizes and species.
What was the process of doing the voice?
It took me a minute to figure out exactly what was going on. My first session with them, I had worked on Samantha Who? until 9 in the morning, and then I had to be there at 11, so I wasn’t in the best possible condition to start doing this kind of voice, and Brad (Peyton, the director) kept saying, “More energy, more energy.”
With a lot of other animated movies, they can animate thought in the eyes of the character, and they can animate physicality and all of those things, but for this, these are real dogs and cats. With our characters, there was very little that was enhanced, so it really was a cat sitting there.
What we really had to do is convey so much through the voice, and I think that’s when I finally understood when he said, “More energy,” it wasn’t “Louder, bigger.” It needed to be so full because that cat is not going to swerve a certain way, or cock its head, or do the things that you want it to do.
It took me a minute to get used to it, but I think it turned out really well. I was happy with it. I’d like to go back and change a couple of things, for myself, but I truly enjoy doing this kind of work. Even though it’s a little isolating, it’s quite gratifying to then finally see the picture and see what they’ve been so busy doing, all these months and years.
Can you compare doing this to being a Chipette?
It was very different, considering the Chipettes could be anybody. You really don’t recognize (the voice) because it’s just high-pitched gibberish. That’s a little bit more taxing, as far as doing the Chipmunks, because you have to talk a lot higher than you normally speak, and really slowly.
Everything has to be incredibly exaggerated, so you really feel ridiculous. And the process is a little bit longer to do that. And then, they just speed it up and it doesn’t sound like you. You try to put as much personality into that slow speaking, so that when it speeds up it sounds like something great, quirky and sassy.
What’s great about these movies is the human quality that all these animals have. That’s why kids love it. They can just think, “Oh, this is really happening,” because there’s this human inside there. There’s this real person that I can relate to. It took me a minute to really find what that was and to get Catherine as strong as she was, but not make her unlikable as well.
Do you have a favorite childhood toy that evokes any fond memories?
I remember having all the dolls from El Coyote, the restaurant. I don’t know if they even have dolls anymore. I didn’t have Barbies, but I had hundreds of these Spanish dolls that were dressed like the waitresses there. I loved my little Conchitas.
Your character has a mission and you’ve had a personal mission yourself, being a breast cancer survivor. Do you try to work with people who have had similar struggles?
I actually have a foundation with EIF that we’re launching, probably in September, called Right Action for Women. It’s program where we’re going to be giving financial aid to high-risk women who can’t afford to get MRIs, which is how I found my cancer.
It’s unfortunate that insurance companies don’t cover the cost of that, and it’s such an incredible device because it can find it at a stage where you can stop it before it stops you, basically. So, my missions has been to stop that completely. We’ve already started our pilot program, and we’re starting to help women already, even though we’re not launched completely.
That’s one aspect of the foundation. The other is to do genetic counseling and really help women understand what being BRCA positive is, or having high-risk in their family, and helping them understand what foods are good for their bloods and how to prevent this disease from happening. That’s been my mission, and that’s what I’m working on really hard right now.