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Emile Hirsch is Speed Racer

Published May 7, 2008 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Warner Bros
Speed Racer Speed Racer

Speed Racer was a simple anime cartoon about a racing family. The film version casts Emile Hirsch as Speed. While the visual world surrounding him may be the focus of viewers' eyes, Hirsch still had to play a real character driving through the outrageous tracks.

Emile Hirsch on Playing Speed Racer

"It was just trying to maintain the integrity of that world," said Hirsch. "Speed is a very, very passionate, serious guy who's completely committed to doing the right thing. He's not willing to sell out to the big corporate conglomerate."

Hair stylists helped Hirsch create the perfect Speed look, modeling his hair curl after Elvis Pressley, as the original Speed Racer artists did. "I love Elvis and the hair was super exacting on getting every little hair right. It took a while. We experimented with some different styles and we had a bunch of photos we were looking at. It was good. The whole '60s Elvis kind of James Bond-y kind of vibe to the character was really a big attraction. It was just fun. It feels like it's this huge futuristic weird dimension but it's got a lot of the aesthetics from the '60s. It's a nice mix."

Hirsch also put weight on rapidly after losing 40 pounds for Into the Wild. "Really quick but it's really easy. When you lose weight, I was just eating candy and stuff. It was like, 'Oh God, take five? Take 20.'"

Speed also kicks butt, so Hirsch had to learn some fighting techniques. "We worked with these stunt guys named Chad and Dave who were like master fighters, and it was really funny because we actually got pretty tough for actors and stuff, but at one point, me and my buddy Kick who plays Sparky, we were standing around and we were like, 'Hey, Chad and Dave.' Chad and Dave are just like rocks. We're like, 'Hey guys, how many Hollywood actors do you guys think that you guys could take on at once.' Chad was like, dead serious, '20?' Dave was like, 'No, no, no, dude. Like 30.' He's like, 'Yeah, maybe 35, maybe 40.' We were like [whistles] and I believed it because they're such beasts. They have eight pack, I have a thing, a blob."

All of these elements contribute to a Speed who adults can take seriously as well as children. "They wanted to make a family film and maybe it's just that the kids in their family are really sophisticated or something. I don't know if that was the total intention. They definitely wanted to make an all and out kids movie. I shouldn't say kids movie, I should say family movie because I watched it with a bunch of my friends who are all around 23, 24, 25 and they loved it. They didn't watch it and go, 'Oh, it's a cool kids' movie.' They were like, 'That was a cool movie.'"

Speed Racer opens to theaters on May 9th.

For the trailers, stills, poster and more information on the film, go to the Speed Racer Movie Page.
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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Warner Bros

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