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Kung Fu Panda in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Kung Fu Panda

(voices of) Jack Black • Dustin Hoffman • Lucy Liu • Ian McShane • Jackie Chan • Angelina Jolie • Seth Rogen • David Cross
DIRECTORS: John Stevenson & Mark Osborne

Po and Master Shifu THE CONCEPT:
Enthusiastic, big and a little clumsy, Po (Black) is a big fan of kung fu. When he’s unexpectedly chosen to fulfill an ancient prophecy, Po’s dreams become a reality as he studies kung fu alongside of his idols, the legendary Furious Five: Tigress (Jolie), Crane (Cross), Mantis (Rogen), Viper (Liu) and Monkey (Chan), under the leadership of their guru, Master Shifu (Hoffman), where he must learn how to protect the world from the treacherous snow leopard, Tai Lung (McShane), who is heading their way.

U.S. RELEASE: June 6 2008, Nationwide • Rated: PG


Jack Black“I evolved as a character [as the recordings went on]. When we first did it, I remember I was like, ‘I wonder if that was too whiney or too shrieky.’ And calling up the next day and saying, ‘I want to come back in, I think maybe I was too whiney or shrieky.’ And then I came back and we did it again.”

Director John Stevenson, producer Melissa Cobb and director Mark Osborne“There was a very important dynamic between Po and Shifu, and we wanted to explore that with both actors, so we brought them together early on intending it to be a very playful session, an exploratory session, and we ended up actually getting a lot of great finished dialogue in that session, because the interplay was so great. And it was a thrill, they hadn’t worked together before so we got to pair these two, and just to be there was fun.”

Dustin Hoffman“Oh that it could be longer, is my answer. I wish there would be a way to make these films where the actors interact all the time, but you can’t do it. It’s been four years making it, so you work for a few days, later they call you, four months later you come in again, so you couldn’t have all the actors in the same [place], but it would be wonderful if we could.”

Po and Master Shifu“I knew Dustin Hoffman was in the movie so I wanted to be absolutely method acting in my performance. I didn’t want to be outshone by the master himself. Dusty and I worked together – I can call him Dusty now, we’ve gotten to that point. It was great to work with him. For the most part we work in isolation. It’s just easier that way so you don’t overlap. It was fun to work together, but I was intimidated because I have been a huge fan of his for my whole life, it seems.”

Lucy Liu“They had pictures of Viper already and they also had a short computerized video version of what she would look like when she moved. It’s something that they hadn’t worked on before; how a snake moves. She had a very specific face, the way it was already, so I don’t know if they put [me] in it, maybe with the eyes and the expression of the mouth.”

“Some people have asked me if I enjoyed doing it. And I’ve said, ‘No, I didn’t enjoy it, it’s painstaking.’ It’s tough to make a regular movie, because it’s tense on the set, but still when you compare it, it’s much more fun to make a regular film. I doff my hat to these guys, there’s no other word for it, it’s painstaking.”

“I think Dustin and I have different approaches. I’m more of a stand up [comedian] than a method actor. I think he definitely prefers to have another human being to bounce off of and have real human interaction. I’m fine with just doing it in a vacuum of my own. I would find it just as difficult if I had his role in Kramer vs Kramer. That would be very painstaking to me.”

“Originally, Viper was a little more comedic, really broad and everybody was kind of coming down on Panda a little bit, being difficult and pushing him around as we were kind of bitter that he had been chosen, and to be a part of the process and see how it shifts and how it transformed itself into what it became was really heart-warming, and I think they really had to go through all those changes to find where they were going.”

“There are some intense emotional [scenes] in the film, and for us that was important for the storytelling. There’s the violent kung fu action, and then there’s a soft cuddly panda. An important part of being a kid is to be scared in a safe environment. Walt Disney used to say, ‘There’s a promise we make our audience, we say we’re going to scare you, but everything’s going to be okay.’”

Viper, Mondy, Mantis, Master Shifu, Tigress, Crane

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Images above © DreamWorks Animation
Feature © 2008 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #697, Summer 2008 cover

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