Being in Hawaii for the press junket to Surf's Up must have made Shia LaBeouf happy. Maybe his fresh tan emphasized his smile more, or maybe it was just hard to take oneself too seriously with a beach and a dolphin pool right outside, but he started talking about voicing Cody the penguin with total self-deprecation.
Shia LaBeouf Talks Surf's Up
"You gotta talk to other penguins," he said. "You gotta get into the mind of a penguin. We would have a lot of great penguin actors who had come off Meet the Penguins and had come on to our set who were like some of the best in the business. They are very prima donna types though."
Even getting serious about the process kept LaBeouf animated, pun definitely intended. "The only cartoon I’ve done was this Hebrew translation so you have to stick to script a lot of the time. And when you have a lot of the actors in the room you get to adlib and Chris [Buck] and Ash [Brannon] would encourage it, because it was like a reality show. So the cadence was different. It’s not like the ba-dun-dun, joke. It’s more Spinal Tap-y. So, there are these little intricate moments that you get when the other actors there, noises you wouldn’t write down on a piece of paper in scripted form. So it was great that we were encouraged to do it. So we were in a really good environment for this."
That process brought LaBeouf together with Jeff Bridges for the bulk of the film. Bridges plays Big Z, the former champ who mentors Cody. "Jeff is just really playful. He’s like a nine-year-old with all the experiences he has and the knowledge, but the imagination is that of a nine-year-old. He’ll just riff all day long. He doesn’t care how it sound or how it comes off. He’s very playful and you feel like you are in a sandbox. And it never stops. It never like, there is never a cut off point. There is never a ‘Cut’ and he’s off in his own world again. He just maintains it. There is a lot of joy that he brings to the table when he comes to work. And there not a lot of excuses or complaints or anything."
Still forging his young career, working with Bridges was one of LaBeouf's highlights. "There are like a list of ten or twenty, where you are like, ‘Oh, man, if I ever get to meet these people, let alone work with them…’ I don't know if I can pick one and go, ‘Boom! That’s the guy.’ But yeah, Jeff was definitely that for me while we were working on it."
Surf's Up is out in theaters now.
For the trailer, posters, review and additional movie info, go to the Surf's Up Movie Page.
Stay tuned for updates.