Big animation movies love having superstar actors to inhabit their characters. And on that count, “Kung Fu Panda 3” does very well.
As in the previous two films from the DreamWorks Animation hit franchise, Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, and David Cross are all present to give their voices.
And this year, the studio added Oscar winner J.K. Simmons to voice the villain in part three, Kai, who has come from the spirit realm to take the chi of all the kung fu masters.
Simmons is no stranger to doing animation work. He was Mayor Lionheart in the Disney hit “Zootopia” and his voice can be heard on this season of “Archer” as well as for Lennie Turtletaub in “BoJack Horseman.”
Why do top-flight actors love to do animation work? Simmons gave Business Insider three reasons why.
“Kung Fu Panda 3” is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
1. You don’t have to worry about how you look when showing up to work.
When your profession largely has to do with your appearance, being inside a recording both – and getting paid for it – is a dream.
“No makeup chair, no shaving, no wardrobe, you get to be a complete slob,” Simmons said. “That would definitely be number one in my book.”
2. Collaborating on the creation of the character and story with the filmmakers.
- Brian Gordon/DreamWorks
Though the story and characters are usually fleshed out before the voice talent get into the recording booth, Simmons said the filmmakers were still open to hear his opinions.
“The freedom, that theater of the mind along with your collaborators – the writers and the directors – to be able to have limitless freedom to imagine and create,” Simmons said, heightened the experience.
At the very least, Simmons said it was fun to close his eyes and imagine the character in the world the animators would create, which he often did when recording Kai.
3. You can’t beat the hours.
Often on live-action movies, key talent have to stay on set daily for hours upon hours. And if you’re on a blockbuster movie, you likely flew hours to another country to film. That’s not the case with animation.
“You do an animated feature, for the cast it’s working a total of 10-12 hours [spread out over a few months], which is less than one day on a live-action feature,” Simmons said. “So it’s a lot of bang for your buck as far as that goes. You get to be part of a fun project without having to get on a jet and fly to London to do your work.”