Lilly Singh and Zazie Beetz star as Tiffany Fluffit and Diane Foxington, respectively, in the new animated adventure THE BAD GUYS, in theatres April 22. The duo talked about the fun they had working on the film, which character they would love to portray, and more.
INTERVIEW Lilly Singh and Zazie Beetz of THE BAD GUYS
If you could be any other character in the film besides the one that you are, who would it be and why?
Lilly Singh: You already know my answer, so I’m gonna go first.
Zazie Beetz: I know your answer.
Lilly Singh: I 100% would be Diane. I would literally be Foxington because she’s so hot and cool and I want to be her, and I want to date her.
Zazie Beetz: I actually think you’re trailing her energy right now.
Lilly Singh: Really?
Zazie Beetz: Uh-huh.
Lilly Singh: That’s the best thing anyone’s ever said to me.
Zazie Beetz: I think for me, honestly, I was gonna say, you know, let me be Snake. I think I would really like to play Snake. Because I just feel like he’s really going through it and having a hard time. And I don’t know, I kind of want to be there for him and with him.
One of the themes in the film is judgment, and for young girls, or young women, we have to deal with that a lot. What would be your advice for young women having to deal with judgment, if they’re, maybe, trying to do something different or trying to do something new and they have to deal with this?
Zazie Beetz: I think, and this is actually sort of what I took away from the film, really, is, you know, these other people aren’t leading your life. So, you really kind of have to dictate what you want to do and what you want to bring into the world, and I do find any time that, you know, if you do feel like you want to do something a little different or new and other people are naysaying you, I do find sort of any time that that has happened to me, when I go for it, the people that accept that you, are the people that you end up also attracting in your life.
And you end up opening so much more for yourself and you find out that you’re so much more resilient than you thought you were. And then, that judgment almost feels negligible. That being said, of course, that’s very vague. What does judgment mean? So, I think it all depends on the situation, naturally. But, I think in sort of broad terms, I would say, you gotta just kinda go for it and, you know, they’re not leading your life. You are.
Lilly Singh: I think, for me, I’ve analyzed judgment a lot, having a career, and I’m sure you might agree. You’re bloggers. There’s a lot of people online that have a lot of opinions. So, a lot of my career was founded on just people commenting on every part of my life, and so I had to really think about judgment and analyze it, and what I concluded was that judgment involves someone else telling me what they think the truth is and then, the reason it would get to me was that I would then give them permission to tell me that.
So, I would give people who have never met me permission to tell me who I was. And so, in that equation the part where someone else tells me something, that’s probably not gonna change. I can’t control that person. But what I can control is my giving that person permission. And that’s what I’ve been trying to work on, is being like, you know what, I actually no longer give you the permission to tell me this about my life. You can keep doing it. But it doesn’t hold that value to me anymore. So, I think that’s really what has helped me, is not giving them that power and instead of placing that power within me.
What lesson does this movie teach?
Lilly Singh: I think this movie is so timely, because, especially with the internet and just the way headlines and media and all that stuff goes on down today, everything is usually very black and white. It’s usually good/bad, yes/no, wrong/right, and I don’t think humans can operate in these extremes. I don’t think things belong in one category or the other. I think people exist in this gray area if they need context.
And I think this movie teaches you that bad guys aren’t just bad. Everyone has context. Everyone deserves context. Everyone has lived experiences and I think we owe people. We owe it to ourselves to treat each other like human beings and even though these are all animals in the movie, I think it is really about human nature and how we love to easily define and label and we don’t need to do that. We don’t need to be that lazy. We can give people context.
Zazie Beetz: I completely agree with that. I also think that this movie encourages you to, you know, to be your highest self in whatever format that is, and to not allow an expectation or a narrative around you to dictate what you’re going to do with your life. And I think that it encourages, as we were sort of discussing before, breaking out of molds that were made for you and to create your own mold. And I think that that’s important as well.
What advice would you give to someone who would want to go into voice acting?
Lilly Singh: Oh, that’s a very specific—I usually get in—I usually get asked about entertainment. But voice acting specifically—I would say for me what makes voice acting really fun is giving myself the permission to play and be free. And that’s why I love voice work so much. Because you’re not restricted by someone else’s performance. You’re not restricted by, like gravity or physical sets. You really can make this world, in your mind, and you can take things as high and low and outrageous as you want to make them.
I would say my advice would be if you want to get into voice acting, try to practice that principle in other things in your life—of being free and letting your imagination soar. Whether it’s like trying new things, whether it’s how you hang with your friends, the types of conversations you have. Really open yourself up and that’ll really help in voice work, I think.
On ad-libbing/improving lines and if they had the opportunity to insert a line that wasn’t there before or got a little something extra because you guys are so extra and wanted to get a little something in there?
Zazie Beetz: I would be hard-pressed to find a scene that doesn’t have that. I think that is, sort of, the whole point, I guess, in voice work and, in particular, I think in who they chose to cast. I think they really wanted us to flavor the characters. I love how you’ve been talking about Tiffany and how you shaped her and I feel like, for Diane, as I mentioned earlier, you know, it took some time to find her and I think through play and through me, just riffing and throwing things in there and just changing my tone and changing lines, off the cuff, is what ultimately allowed us to really chisel her into who she is now.
And, yes, so, I would say all the scenes. Especially the, like, for me the ones with the Mr. Wolf character, where it’s really, it’s like bantering. It’s just kind of back and forth. And so, you — the reactions have to feel quite fresh, and so I think we would just throw stuff in. So, yes, all of it I would say is quite—
Lilly Singh: Yes, and just to add on, I think the team and Peter, the director, is so open to people playing. You know, it’s like, how would you do it? Add your own flair to it. So, I felt super welcomed and comfortable riffing and adding a little bit of flavor to all the lines, because creativity was the goal at the end of the day and no one was really precious about, like the exact words on the page, as long it felt right, which is always a nice work with.
Zazie Beetz: Did you come up with a stereotype line?
Lilly Singh: I didn’t come up with that—my favorite line—I did not come up with that line, but I gasp when I read it. Because I was like, this is genius. But I, for example, I knew I didn’t want to just be a straightforward reporter, so I just—she starts out with, like ‘what up,’ like she just, all of this, like that—all that stuff is just me goofing around.
About The Bad Guys
Nobody has ever failed so hard at trying to be good as The Bad Guys.
After a lifetime of legendary heists, notorious criminals Mr. Wolf, Mr. Snake, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Shark, and Ms. Tarantula are finally caught. To avoid a prison sentence, the animal outlaws must pull off their most challenging con yet—becoming model citizens. Under the tutelage of their mentor, Professor Marmalade, the dubious gang sets out to fool the world that they’re turning good.
Universal Studios’ THE BAD GUYS races into theatres on April 22nd.
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