“Rio 2” may take place in Brazil, but Miami was the chosen city to host the world premiere for the film. Actors George Lopez, Rodrigo Santoro, Andy Garcia, Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx, Kristin Chenoweth, Jemaine Clement, Jesse Eisenberg, and director Carlos Saldanha chatted with media ahead of the films premiere to discuss the adventures their animated characters will go through in the highly anticipated sequel.
The film opens with Blu (Eisenberg), Jewel (Hathaway) and their three kids heading to an adventure in the Amazon where humans Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) and Linda (Leslie Mann) spotted a rare Spix Macaw. If there was even a small possibility that there were others out there of their kind, Jewel thought it was important that her children be exposed to them so as to create a cultural connection for them.
“Our director Carlos Saldanha is Brazilian, from Rio,” Hathaway said. “This project began because he wanted to share the love of his country with the world so they could see why he loves it and what he sees in it. A lot of families throughout the world, not just from Brazil, understand that we are being pulled very quickly into modernity. It’s so important to stay grounded while welcoming the future but not forget our backgrounds, our past, and who got us here. I love that the film finds the marriage between modernity and tradition.”
Hathaway, who was lauded for her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” in “Les Miserables,” also performs in “Rio 2.” She joked she should work on a duet with Garcia before she departs from the Magic City, “I’d love that! Call me.”
Comedian George Lopez believes that their animated characters have a way of taking on many of their human traits. “Some of us are acting and creating images with our imagination. But Jesse [Eisenberg], really is Blu,” Lopez said. “You mean like sad?”, Eisenberg added. “I think he is the bird,” Lopez clarified. “They are one in the same.”
“It’s a really slow process, it took two years to make this film,” Eisenberg explained. “So to improvise at the recording studio it would have to go through this long process where things are animated to that improvisation. There’s a writing team, an animation team, then a 3D animation team and even a shadowing animation team that are all involved so nothing could really be done spontaneously with the exception of what we can do in the booth if Carlos [Saldanha] and the team thinks it works for the movie.”
Santoro, a native Brazilian, says he “wishes” he had been able to take the entire cast for a tour of his country. “Everybody works a lot but for the first movie, most of us were there,” Santoro explained.
Two of the biggest themes to watch for in “Rio 2″ is the music and the support for the rain forests that children will be exposed to that might not normally reach such young minds. “There’s the thematic of the environmental issue in the movie of deforestation,” Garcia said. “This film is bringing this topic to the children and even the parents who might have otherwise been clueless about what is going on. It’s an extraordinary opportunity because it’s a message that will become engrained in their self conscious so that when they grow they remember this is a real issue. It’s something that is going on all over the world but specifically in the Amazon.”
Kiwi actor Jemaine Clement reprised his role as the villainous cockatoo Nigel hell bent on revenge against Blu, with the support of his new interspecies love Gabi, a frog voiced by Kristin Chenoweth. After breaking hearts around the world by saying, “probably not” when quizzed about a third season of “Flight of the Conchords” happening, he said he’d be open to having a spin-off of “Rio” focusing on Nigel and Gabi. Co-star Chenoweth added, “We’d love that!” Final approval however belongs to director Saldanha who said, “We’ve been hearing that a lot! It’s so funny because I can totally see a whole segment of these two singing, I couldn’t get enough of it. I wish the movie could have been 120 minutes long so they had more time but I couldn’t afford it. [laughs] There was so much more than what made it into the film and we really had a blast.”
“Rio 2″ opens in theaters today.