INT: Labeouf/Heder

Riding hot off the heels of two smash hits (DISTURBIA and BLADES OF GLORY), Shia LaBeouf and Jon Heder are two of the most recognizable young stars in Hollywood right now. And with the ever-nearing release dates of TRANSFORMERS and MAMA'S BOY, they seem to be intent on continuing the trend all throughout 2007. In SURF'S UP though, you won't be seeing much of their faces. It's their voices that take center stage. Shia plays Cody Maverick, an up-and-comer who wants to make it big in the world of penguin surfing. If that's not weird enough for you, they've also got Heder playing Chicken Joe, Cody's goofy and laidback companion.

For those that haven't read the Jeff Bridges or filmmaker interviews (and if you haven't, get on it), Sony flew me out to Oahu , Hawaii for some SURF'S UP press coverage. I was only there for three days, but it was a complete blast. The setting was beautiful and the beach, relaxing (No complaints here!) The only disappointment came when it was time to head home. But at least I got some solid interview coverage upon doing so.

Shia LaBeouf and Jon Heder shared their interview time together, which at first seemed like an odd choice, but with their hilarious back-and-forth banter, it quickly became obvious why. During my time with them, I got to find out a little bit more about how they recorded their voicework together, as well as a few updates on other projects (*cough* Indy 4 *cough*). And of course, there's TRANSFORMERS, which we had to force Shia into discussing. As for Heder, this wasn't the first time I had talked to him (I had previously met him at the BLADES OF GLORY junket), but he was just as funny as I remember. Shia was equally amusing, constantly cracking jokes while always maintaining a straight face. He also clearly appears to have his feet firmly in the ground, with no reservations about what he's doing or the choices he's taking. There's no doubt about it – this kid's going to be huge!

Jon Heder Shia Labeouf

You guys having fun in Hawaii?

Heder: It's great here, huh? I'm not complaining.

LaBeouf: Me either. Anyway, Jon you have some slick pants, buddy!

Heder: Hey, I'm just being professional. No, I'm doing the Hawaiian thing man.

LaBeouf: Yeah, I know. I'm a loser. I didn't pack well.

With 'Surfs' Up,' you actually worked together in the studio. How was that experience different from the other voiceover work you've done?

Heder: I did one voice on another movie, 'Monster House' and even then I've never done a normal voice over, because that was all motion capture. So, that was like shooting a film. We had props and everything. On this, we had the little music stand with our dialogue and stuff, but it was kind of in a big open room. I have a couple of scenes with Shia and then one with Zooey [Deschanel] and it was kind of cool and different because it was interactive. We would actually wrestle and move around and that helped a lot.

LaBeouf: The only cartoon I've done was the 'Naushika' translation [Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Winds] and you had 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 [the directors] would encourage it, because it was 'reality show' live. So, the cadence was different. It's not like the "bah dah dah, tsssh" joke. It's more 'Spinal Tap-y.' There are these little intricate moments that you get when you get 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 and that Sony let them encourage us to do it. So, we were in a really good environment for something like this.

Was it hard getting a full-body performance with just your voice?

Heder: Well, when you are in a scene and there is some kind of action laid out you are kind of doing it even though you know the camera is not going to see any of this. I'm not sure if they showed it to the animators, sometimes they watch it, but it just helps you get into your voice and shows through your voice. There are a couple of scenes where we are like kind of pushing each other and wrestling a bit and I think it plays through your voice even though you don't ultimately see us. You see a chicken and a penguin.

Shia, what interested you in doing another animated film?

LaBeouf: Well, I am a huge animated film fan period, especially in the last ten years. Animation has completely changed and I've always been a big fan.

Weren't you younger when you recorded this?

LaBeouf: Yeah. I was going through puberty while we were making it. That was tough. So it was very strange.

Heder: They had to tweak his voice.

LaBeouf: It was very strange.

What are your favorite animated movies?

LaBeouf: 'Toy Story.' That is one of my favorite films, not in just animation. And you meet people involved in that, so that was reassuring. But I guess you just go into it like you would in any other film. It's not like your performance changes just because you're in animation. If that would happen, that would be very strange – for me.

What makes Cody Maverick such great characters?

LaBeouf: I don't know if he's a great character.

Heder: Yeah, I don't know about that either. "What makes him endearing?"

LaBeouf: Hmmm. Cody wants to be a winner and he comes from a family of people who aren't encouraging him to follow his dreams, so he's the underdog. He's very normal. We are not playing up a lot of the penguin thing. He's very human. And often times in animation, you don't get that. You don't get the reality in the character. Sometimes it's just too shticky. Banana peel, slip. "Ah, ha-ha-ha." And in a movie like this, you get to find the thread of the soul of the character and get to explore a bunch of stuff you wouldn't normally have in animation like the fact that he doesn't have a father. That's pretty dramatic for animation. Stuff like that was fun – jumping around and joking with Jon and having all those laughs and then going into this romance with Zooey. And then going into the father-son thing with Jeff [Bridges], that was a lot of fun for me. Just as a performer period.

What does it take to play a penguin? What sort of research goes into that?

LaBeouf: You gotta talk to other penguins. 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 dona types though.

Heder: Really? I didn't meet them. I worked with chickens.

How do you feel about 'Happy Feet' coming out not too long ago?

LaBeouf: Well, we started before they started. Our movie has been five years in the making. It took them like two or three to make theirs. So take that!

Heder: Theirs was way too easy. This was surfing. [Theirs was] just penguins being penguins.

LaBeouf: Cakewalk!

Heder: And singing. Yeah, that's true.

Have either of you ever lost the joy in your work? Like when something's not a hit?

Heder: I think if you have something that's not a hit, then you're like, 'I've got to try harder.'

So you think it's you then?

Heder: It can be a combination of anything. But, still, to me it's not so much about whether a movie is a hit or not, it's if you enjoyed your own performance or you buy it. Of course, at least I am thinking with most actors you are going to be critical of your own work. You are watching it and you're like, "OK, I dunno if this is going to be a big hit or not." You want it to be. Obviously you want success, but even with a successful film, you are still critical, "Okay, I can do this better" or "Alright, I can see how I could have done a better job here."

Shia, do you find joy in every role?

LaBeouf: If I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't be doing it. It's not like I'm forced to do this. Financially, I'm pretty stable. The last couple of movies haven't been financial gain in major ways. I mean, I've been getting paid less and less, it seems like. But I've been enjoying it more and more.

Heder: That sucks.

LaBeouf: Yeah, it sucks. My rate is dropping, plummeting.

There has got to be some joy in having hits. Especially with 'Disturbia' and 'Blades of Glory' doing as well as they've done.

Heder: I love the whole process. I mean, shooting the film is really fun; the pre-production and of course you're getting really excited when you read the script and then you shoot it and then it's really just the waiting period. 'Alright, let's see what happens when it comes out in theaters.' And you want it to do well, and you see the preview, and you are excited. Whether or not it does well, I love seeing the finished product. I love having my own little private screening.

Heder: It feels good. But I don't know, what is fun about having a big hit? It's not like you're playing Jacks or anything. [Laughs] No, of course it feels great because you're like, "Alright, we did something right."

Was the success of 'Disturbia' a surprise?

LaBeouf: Nobody really expected it to do [that well], so when it did really well and it continued to do really well and the drop offs weren't major and it took 'Spider-Man' to knock us out, it was like, "Wow. This is incredible." And good movies came out in our time, like 'Fracture' came out, and I really liked that movie. But sometimes it's not even about the quality of the film. It's just we hit a group of people that really wanted a movie like this at the time. Marketing is a whole other side of this that we're not really involved with directly. There is a science to it. It's a whole different thing.

Were you disappointed that 'A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints' wasn't a hit?

LaBeouf: No, because it felt like just as big an achievement to have that movie come out as it did for 'Disturbia.' Yes, it's great to have a financial hit. But it was never planned for that to be a financial film. I mean, 'Disturbia,' it's a whole different strategy. The fact that we got to make 'Guide' was an achievement in itself. You can't really pitch that movie well to any audience other than the one that went to see, which was a small, small section of the populous. As it was intended. It was never meant to be 'Disturbia' big.

Jon, you studied animation. Have you fully devoted yourself to performing or will you ever go back to animation?

Heder: Oh, yeah. I've always been in love with animation. And getting involved with it on this side, I never really expected it, but I was definitely kind of jumping into it. I remember when they asked me to do this role, that's one of the biggest reasons I took it, because I loved the character design and I loved how they were doing all the technology with the waves. The look of it looked really cool. And I was like, "This looks like a really cool project to get involved in," but I'm still planning on getting involved with animation – writing and directing and hopefully producing some day.

Let's talk other projects. How is Transformers going, Shia? Have you seen it yet?

LaBeouf: Yeah, I've seen pretty close to final. Mike is working on a couple more things. We are done shooting and they are getting down to the final voice-over stage. And Hugo Weaving is great in it. And again, from a fan's point of view – [Frank] Welker, his voice sounds different than it did. So, I know all the fans are like, "Aw, Welker's not playing Megatron?" You say no, but I know yes.

Heder: He's doing some of the other voices.

LaBeouf: Yeah, he's doing some of the other voices. But Hugo's a great Megatron. It's different, but he's great.

You originally said you had some very specific concerns with your character in the next 'Indiana Jones' movie. Are you happy with how he's turned out?

LaBeouf: I still haven't read the script.

Will you be making suggestions on the character to Steven Spielberg?

LaBeouf: Well, you don't make any demands to Steven Spielberg. You just say, "Yeah, alright, great. That sounds like a good thing to me." And [George] Lucas isn't involved as Spielberg with the actors, it's all Steven, but I don't imagine I'll be questioning anything he says. Of course you have to find your voice as an artist. You're the tool and you gotta have some say. But I don't imagine it's going to be very easy to say, "You know Steven, I don't think that's correct. I think I should do it this way." I dunno. We're still trying to figure it out. We haven't gotten into any rehearsals. It's just been a lot of stunt rehearsals and weapons training and things like that.

What about you, Jon? What are your projects?

Heder: I've got this movie, and Mama's Boy coming out, I believe, in November. And for now, that's it.

LaBeouf: I'm in the same boat. You know all the projects that I'm involved in, it's just 'Transformers' and 'Indy.'

When do you start filming 'Indy?'

LaBeouf: Probably late June, I'd imagine.

Jon, is there any word on sequel to 'Napoleon Dynamite?'

Heder: No, not really. We have never said no to it, I think it's just a timing thing since everyone else is involved in other projects. I mean, I wouldn't get your hopes up, but I'm not saying it would never happen. We've never said, "Oh, absolutely not."

Shia, are there any projects you're working on you that you might do after 'Indy'?

LaBeouf: Yeah, there are a couple of them. None of them are fully developed to the point where I'd want to start telling you about it. But, yeah, there are a handful of things. If your movie opens well, you go, "Okay, now the industry will let me make a small little movie." So, you start coming up with ideas. You start brainstorming with your team and people start finding books and other things and properties that you are involved in. Or life stories that you are really interested in.

Big Z is Cody's surfing idol. Do you guys have any acting idols?

LaBeouf: Well, [Jeff] Bridges is definitely one of them, so that helps.

Heder: Yeah, I'd agree on that too.

LaBeouf: Harrison Ford's up there, too. 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 dunno 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 the movie.

Can you talk about what it was like working with Jeff?

LaBeouf: Jeff is just really playful. He's like a nine-year-old with all the experiences he has and the knowledge, but his imagination is that of a nine-year-old. He'll just riff all day long. He doesn't care how it sounds or how it comes off. He's very playful and you feel like you are in a sandbox. And it never stops. 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's not a lot of excuses or complaints or anything.

Now that you guys are here in Hawaii, are you going to do any surfing?

Heder: No, no, no, and no. I have never surfed. I may try. I'm not saying I'm not interested. I'm more about going under the water. I like to snorkel and scuba.

LaBeouf: I've surfed, yeah. When I was like 13 and then I stopped because work started and insurance won't let you. And when we get out of here, we stop doing press around 5 pm or so, by then the tide is not something you want to be involved in. And there is really no surf out here, but there is surf at Diamond Head.

Heder: Nothing but excuses here. [Laughs]

Since you guys don't surf, what other athletic activities are you into?

Heder: Hmmm. Yeah, I like to ice skate now. I do. That was my favorite part [of 'Blades of Glory'], learning how to ice skate, and I do a little bit of racquetball and tennis.

LaBeouf: I am a season ticket holder to Dodger games. I go to every Dodger game I can go to. Every single one. And I've never been more athletic in my life. Just because of the occupation, you know? I have to.

You've both hosted 'Saturday Night Live.' How was that?

Heder: Yeah, It's pretty awesome. I loved it. It was always a dream to do. I watched the show growing up and then, of course, I got the call and it was one of those things where I got really nervous. The week of shooting my nerves actually went down surprisingly, but the month and a half of knowing I was going to do it, I was really nervous. It turned out that it was a blast. And it goes by so fast. You're done and you're like, "Oh, we're done?" You're kind of happy because you're like, "OK, I can't screw up anymore!" But it was a lot of fun. And it's a very lively show. There is a lot of energy, because it is so insane backstage.

LaBeouf: With all the wig changing? That's nuts.

Heder: And they strip you down [for the costume changes].

LaBeouf: Mine was pretty much the same experience. We had a Mario Cantone skit we didn't get to do. We had a lot of skits we didn't get to do. You plan like twelve, and then you only do like eight or nine. And the 'Sofa King' skit barely made it in, but I remember we were in the final meeting – which was crazy – and Lorne [Michaels] was on the cuff about it, and he said to the writers, "Alright, fine, if the actors say 'so f*cking' instead of Sofa King," and the people at the ratings boards say, "Alright, we're gonna slap you with a $100,000 fine, and you're gonna pay for it." And he was like, "Uhhh... OK, fine." And we wound up doing it.

You guys have done a lot of different types of projects: animated, TV, big budget, indies... What are your preferences?

Heder: Each project is very similar in that you approach the characters the same way. Of course I love independent, because starting out, you have complete control and you don't worry at all. It's "Oh, right. People may see this. People may not. So, who cares?" You just kind of give it all out. As opposed to obviously a studio movie that you know will be out, and will probably have this kind of opening, but I don't know if I have a preference. It depends on what you are doing.

LaBeouf: Yeah. It's all fun. One summer, you want to be an a**hole. You want to be upset, and find those other things in you that you don't always get to do in a comedy or in a studio film. Sometimes you want to be that surface-y guy. Sometimes you don't want to be that surface-y. It's human. I'm kind of bi-polar. It just fluctuates really strongly. It's all over the place.

Got questions? Got comments? Send me a line at: [email protected].

Source: JoBlo.com



Latest Entertainment News Headlines