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Kiefer Sutherland on Monsters vs. Aliens

Published March 24, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of DreamWorks Animation
Kiefer Sutherland plays neither a monster nor an alien in Monsters vs. Aliens. He's just a human general, but he impacts the story by releasing the government's captive monsters to fight off the invading aliens. Sutherland is a lifelong fan of animation.

Kiefer Sutherland is General W.R. Monger

"Walt Disney was actually, whatever anyone thinks of about him, was a very smart guy and he made an animated film every seven years for every generation," Sutherland said. "My generation, the film he made for us was a film called Bambi. It’s one of the most dramatic films I’ve still yet see. The mother dies in the first act, and literally, it’s the great coming of age story about how to be a man. So, that was my opening to films as much as I must have cried. 'Must have,' I’m pretending like I can’t remember. As much as I cried when that happened, at the end of the film, I was just amazed at how much I felt. That drew me to see other films. So, animated films for me were the doorway to this genre of entertainment that I fell in love with.”

Dreamworks may know better than to traumatize this generation's kids with abandonment issues, but Monsters Vs. Aliens still has some lessons for them. "I’ve never chosen films because of a specific character. I’ve always chosen something because of what the story is and how if affects me. This story, specifically, what I liked about it was that it was geared to young people and it told them that it was alright to be different. Not only was it alright to be different, but the thing that might make you uncomfortable or make you feel weird could be your greatest quality. That quality, in the context of our movie, it allows Ginormica to save the planet. Certainly, when I was growing up, there were times when I felt different than other kids and that scared me, a lot. So, what I liked about this movie is that it told children and young people that it was all right.”

Monsters vs. Aliens Monsters vs. Aliens

Monsters vs. Aliens Monsters vs. Aliens

General W.R. Monger (get it?) may have run a monster prison for 50 years but he seems genuinely proud of his creatures. "That was one of the aspects of the character that I liked. That was written, certainly, before my involvement. I think he has the responsibility to run this prison and hold the monsters in the way he does, but I think he feels a great deal of sympathy for them. I think that sympathy comes out when he puts Ginormica in her cell and gives her a new name and she starts to cry, and that affects him. I think he understands clearly that these monsters are not dangerous or vicious or mean, and he says it, ‘We don’t believe society will understand, so we have to keep you put away.’ I think he feels very sad about that, but I certainly think that he understands and he’s very proud of those monsters. I believe in the speech when he goes to present the idea to the president that they can take on the aliens, it’s with an enormous sense of pride when he refers to them and describes them."

Some viewers are already comparing Monger to Gen. Turgidson from Dr. Strangelove. "This is what is so cool. I’ve been to Berlin, London, Madrid, Rome, Paris, New York and here [L.A.] and I’ve gotten that everywhere. That’s the power of the animation. We had never seen any of the animation. In fact, the entire time I worked on the film, all I saw was the placard of the character and that was it. When I saw the animation, this is where I think all of the George C. Scott references come from is the physicality of the character. When I saw the character he was big. I didn’t think he was going to shrink because of the 49-foot woman. So, he’s almost like a bee. He’s kind of square, and physically he kind of reminds me of like Patton and Dr. Strangelove, but the voice references were completely separate. Again, I think the power of the animation and the visual can steer that in that direction very quickly.”

Monsters vs. Aliens opens to theatres on March 27th.

For production photos, trailers, posters and more movie info, go to the Monsters vs. Aliens Movie Page.
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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of DreamWorks Animation

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