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Home - Jim Parsons and Rihanna
Home - Jim Parsons and Rihanna at the LA press conference in November ©2014 DreamWorks Animation

On November 19th, I joined my fellow journalists at the Campanile Theatre on the beautiful DreamWorks Animation Campus to meet director Tim Johnson, and voice actors Rihanna, Jim Parsons and Steve Martin where they previewed their new movie Home, which will open on March 27, 2015.

In the film, Earth is taken over by an alien race named Boov, relocating all humans – that is, everyone but Tip (Rihanna) and her cat, who have avoided capture. But she soon finds herself accidently accompanied by a banished Boov named Oh (Jim Parsons), going on a meaningful journey that will change both their lives.

What spoke to you about the movie that made you want to be part of it?

Home - Jim Parsons
Home – Jim Parsons seen at DreamWorks Animation Panel at 2014 Comic-Con on Thursday, July 24, 2014, in San Diego, CA. ©2014 Twentieth Century Fox, photo by Eric Charbonneau

Jim: I had never done [an animated movie] before, so even before I knew what the story was, I was very excited about the idea just because I wanted the chance to do an animated film. I held [up a drawing of my character] to a friend and I was like, ‘Could I voice this?’ They were like, ‘Oh, yes!’

It’s the most interesting playtime I’ve ever had as an actor. It’s really got this feeling of going down a mysterious but joyful black hole where there’s nobody else there.

Direction is being thrown at you by Tim; and once you relax for about 15 or 20 minutes and go, ‘I don’t care, I’m going to look like an ass,’ it’s really fun to see what happens. You know that nothing’s being visually judged in that way. Thank God.

Home - Jim Parsons and Rihanna
Home – Oh (voiced by Jim Parsons) and Tip (voiced by Rihanna) ©2014 DreamWorks Animation

Rihanna: The story just spoke to me. It was so real and there were so many parallels, I felt like I identified with Tip. She’s essentially like a role model for me. It was very strange to read a character that you can look up to.

I was very excited. I’ve never done an animated film. I did “Battleship” before, but this was different. You learn so much when the camera’s not there.

Being from Barbados I have an accent, so [I had to] learn to speak American. There are like 20 different types of American [dialects]. I was learning all over again. Not just the accent, but how to act just with my words.

What resonated with you about Oh?

Home - Poster: Jim Parsons and Rihanna
Home – Poster: Oh (voiced by Jim Parsons) and Tip (voiced by Rihanna) ©2014 DreamWorks Animation

Jim: Oh, the alien, comes in with a set of ideas and how the world is supposed to be, and he thinks that’s all good and right.

He meets Tip, and really understands what it is to accept other people who have different ways of doing things, and whose beliefs may be different than yours, but that you can still be very, very close. That really resonates with me, in our own lives, if you will.

I’ve thought a lot about being a gay person while making this movie. It has nothing to do with that specifically at all, but just being judged by something that people may not identify with, understand or have certain beliefs about.

Then they get to know you for who you are. That’s just the one  [aspect] I personally identify with, obviously, and how important it is to take people at a deeper level than that and let them be who they are in their heart.

Was voicing the character in a booth anything like recording a song?

Rihanna: No, even though there is a mic, the mic became the camera in a way.

We had a lot of emotional moments in this film that I didn’t really expect because it’s an animated film and I think it’s fun, but it’s so real and you connect to the characters.

What is ‘home’ to you?

Rihanna: It’s wherever I feel safest. Anything that feels familiar or comfortable.

Most of the time that’s Barbados. It’s warm, it’s beautiful, it’s the beach, it’s my family, it’s the food, it’s the music. It’s familiar, it feels right, it feels safe. Barbados is home for me.

Jim: [It’s] where you feel un-judged, [where] what I do isn’t necessarily stupid or wrong.

Home - Jim Parsons, Rihanna and Steve Martin
Home – Jim Parsons, Rihanna and Steve Martin at the LA press conference in November ©2014 DreamWorks Animation
Steve Martin, Jim and Rihanna were asked what they hope the message of the movie is that audiences will take away with them. Click here to listen to their answers