Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Keegan-Michael Key, Fran Drescher & David Spade
Living in Transformania
by Jay S. Jacobs
It’s checkout time at Hotel Transylvania.
Ten years and four films into the popular animated series of films, Hotel Transylvania: Transformania will tell the final chapter of the resort that is run and visited by monsters and ghouls.
Of course change is in the air – and not just because the voice of the main character of Drac is no longer played by Adam Sandler in this chapter, instead taken on by YouTube phenomenon Brian Hull. In Transformania, the staff and guests of the place are affected by a laser which turns humans into monsters and monsters into humans.
About a month before Hotel Transylvania: Transformania was to be released exclusively on Amazon Prime, we were able to take part in a virtual press conference with stars Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Keegan-Michael Key, Fran Drescher and David Spade. Here is what they had to say about the fourth (and apparently last) film in the Hotel Transylvania series.
I love that this film really flips the script on a lot of fan favorite characters. How much were you all aware of what the new character designs would look like and what were your reactions?
Andy Samberg: I love the new design. Johnny becomes monsterficationIzed. I believe that’s the correct word. He goes basically full birdy man backpacker meets Godzilla, which I think is something I dreamed about looking like as a child, anyhow. So, it was a dream come true for me.
David Spade: I play Griffin the invisible man, who is a bit of a scene stealer. I was a bit surprised because they put out some pictures of Griffin and I guess it wasn’t what people thought. They wanted Griffin to be better looking like Bradley Cooper or something. I’m like, “Griffin’s like this goofy dingdong that hangs out with the monsters. A little out of shape. Red hair.” They were looking for more of a Prince Harry or something. But I think it’s funnier that Griffin looks funnier. It’s for kids and families and I think cartoons should be funny looking. So, I’m 100% into my Griffin.
Keegan-Michael Key: I was surprised. I expected Murray to be bigger. To me it was like one revolution of wraps. I thought it’d be really this big kind of fat, corpulent guy. Then when all the wraps come off, and you see that first of all, he was super short, but he’s really working the jowls. That was my favorite thing. Just got jowls for days. I like that. Yeah, it’s really great because it helps inform you as to what you’re going to what you want to do vocally, then.
Selena and Fran, you’ve brought these characters to life for nearly 10 years, and they’re wonderful outsiders. What advice do you have for those who in real life are struggling to fit in?
Selena Gomez: Oh, man, that’s a loaded question. Because I could give you the “believe in yourself” kind of answer. But I think it’s a challenge, right? Every day you wake up. Sometimes you can’t sit there and make a choice. Sometimes, you do feel those feelings. I think it’s important to take moments and breaks from social media personally. It’s just nice to be present and be with yourself for a bit. It doesn’t mean that you need to have a lot of friends and a lot of people around you to be cool, because like, I have four friends and I think we’re the coolest. We’re definitely not.
Andy Samberg: Drac’s pack. We’re back. We’re back. Yeah. Yeah. (Everyone laughs.)
Fran Drescher: I think the most attractive thing you can be is yourself, and not give in to peer pressure. Not feel like you have to be like anybody else. Or you have to twist yourself into a pretzel because you think that’s what somebody else expects you to be. Every single day, the more you practice self-confidence and loving exactly who you are and doing exactly what makes your heart sing and nothing else, then you’re on the right path to living a really successful life. Successful in the sense of being happy both inside. Making kindness and compassion your compass is also something that brings value to your life and to those you touch.
David Spade: I’ve been doing it wrong. (Everyone laughs.)
Andy, what are the challenges in trying to bring comedic timing to an animated role?
Andy Samberg: I love talking about the craft. It’s not particularly challenging. We’re on the fourth one here. Not to deflect, but you’ve seen the style of animation they do, which in my opinion, is one of the greatest things about these movies. It’s so fun and exaggerated. Obviously, kids love it. When I watch it, it makes me giggle just seeing the expressions and the gesticulations they give all the characters. So, this time around doing the recording, you pretty much know they want you to go huge and insane. Then they are going to push that even further with the way they animate it, which is very freeing. You know that you’re not going to get like, “Whoa, buddy, come on. That’s too much. Too much.”
Fran Drescher: (laughs) Never too much.
David Spade: Never bring it down.
Selena, we have loved watching Mavis grow and mature over the last three films. What can fans expect from her this time around?
Selena Gomez: It’s been such a pleasure playing this character and also growing up. Because it was so long ago that [the series started]. I was in a different phase of my life. It’s actually wonderful to be able to grow with this character. She’s definitely just tough and she’s not always demanded to be as big. She’s just always worrying, and that matches my personality really well. (laughs) I just want things to run smoothly. I actually understand what it’s like to have differences between family members and things like that. It’s nice that we’re touching on such a real thing, but in such a crazy way. It’s fun.
David, we’re going to get a little deep here. I’m going to warn you this is the first time that your character Griffin has actually been seen. What do you think that symbolizes? In a movie like this it’s all about transformation.
David Spade: Selena, what’s the answer on this one? (They laugh.) First of all I would like to say I love that I got to do these four movies with all these people. It was such a fun time. I get so many nice comments from so many different, older and younger people about watching them together. It’s been a blast. I just wanted to get that out there because it was a really cool thing to be a part of. Having Griffin be not seen was interesting the whole time. I’m just floating glasses. It was nice to be a full-on character that was relating to other people. I think that’s going to be really fun for kids. It was a great hooky fourth idea, because then it’s a switcheroo. Everyone gets different. It’s just a fun visual thing. Like Andy was saying, when you see these jokes, you see them written on the page. Then when they add the animation to it, the jokes are like three times better, because there’s a joke behind you, there’s a joke over here. It just flushes it out so much that the movie turns into just more and more fun. It’s just so clever when you see what they can do. It’s really not us. We’re adding one layer. Then what they do to it makes it even better. They just really know what they’re doing. That’s why these are so fun and [I’m] proud to be a part of.
Fran, you certainly found that the secret to good live action comedy through The Nanny. What do you think is the secret to good comedy and animation?
Fran Drescher: I think physical comedy is very important. We did quite a bit of it on The Nanny. In animation, it’s absolutely imperative. You can do so much because it’s such a make-believe world. You can contort characters in ways that they could never really do in real life. Even the best stunt person couldn’t get away with some of the stuff that animated characters can do. That’s a big through theme of doing an animated movie: how far can we physically take these characters to do funny and surprising things?
Keegan, you’ve lent your voice to a number of animated movies, including several on the way. What has been the most rewarding part of the voice-acting animation experience?
Keegan-Michael Key: The most rewarding part – to actually go back to what Andy was saying – is that concept of not having any limitations. Especially in these movies, like we were saying, the look of these characters is so exaggerated that anything that you would have been busted for on a live action movie, you don’t have to worry about. It reminds me of being a kid. When you were a kid and you play with the other friends, your imagination went everywhere. There would be times you’re out at the field and playing and screaming and all of that abandon. You get to channel that again as an adult when you’re doing animated films. It’s not only not frowned upon, it is encouraged. That’s my favorite thing about working in this space.
Andy Samberg: I love Keegan that you and I both are like “we just like that no one gives us the note that we’re being too big.”
Keegan-Michael Key: (laughs) Exactly. Exactly. That’s the answer to the question for me and Andy. It like no one’s ever going to tell you take it down a notch. That’s like the best.
Andy Samberg: A real peek inside at our process.
It’s been nearly 10 years since the first film was released. Did you ever think this franchise would last this long would and would lead to three sequels like it has?
Andy Samberg: No. But I’m really glad it did. I think the reason is because kids love them so much. That’s the real bottom line with these movies, which makes it such an easy call. They’re just so infused with joy and positivity. Everyone grew up loving these classic monsters, and it’s a new spin on it. It’s really fun for families. That’s why it’s endured.
Fran Drescher: What I like about this movie also is that it’s really written funny. Parents really enjoy it as much as kids. Similarly, certain jokes may go right over the kids’ heads, but the parents get it and see the humor in it.
David Spade: It is a good mix.
Fran Drescher: It’s very positive. And look at the talent, the roles. Very serious comic actors.
David Spade: Sometimes I’m too funny in the thing and they have to really bring me back.
Keegan-Michael Key: I’ve heard that many times. I’ve been giving that as an example during my sessions. The other thing I think is interesting is the way that they portray the family dynamics, like how spouses and loved ones and girlfriends and everybody is working off of each other. Those dynamics are really well observed in the movies. I think they’re really well observed.
Fran Drescher: And relatable, right?
Keegan-Michael Key: Super relatable. Yeah, Fran. That sense where an adult can be laughing at a hard joke with a hard punch line. Also at the same time, there’s this sense of like, “Oh, my God, we do that. Me and my wife do that.” Yeah, it’s super deliciously relatable.
From all indications, this will be the final Hotel Transylvania installment. What would you each say that you will miss most about this series?
Fran Drescher: I’ll miss Eunice. I love her. I love the way they drew her. I love her look. I love that she is a bit of a matriarch to the monsters. She gets wound up and screams a lot. But for the most part, she really cares about Mavis and her family and her husband too, Frank. So I will miss my character, Eunice.
Keegan-Michael Key: I’m going to miss the final products that we always see. The movies are really done on such a high level. It’s the rhythm of the movies and the spirit behind them that really moves me. In a way I’m saying I’m going to miss seeing them because if indeed this is the last, I’m going to miss seeing the new one if a new one comes out because they’re always really well done.
David Spade: I do like when they come out. That’s a good point. We always did one and you’re waiting for it to come out and see if it worked. It’s nice to be a part of something that works. When it worked, it was fun. Then you’re there already talking about another one, so it’s fun. People are like “is there going to be another one?” You go, “Yeah, yeah, we’re working on it. It’s coming out soon.” Then that comes out and you see it you go, “Oh good, it’s funny again.” Then there’s like. “Oh, there’s going to be another one.” To have it stop is a bummer but seeing the fourth one I’m glad they all were good quality. If that’s where they have to stop that’s where they have to stop.
Andy Samberg: I don’t like to admit that it’s over. If we say it’s done, we’re just caving to Sony.
David Spade: Wrap-a-phobia.
Andy Samberg: I’ll miss it all. It’s been such a fun thing to do. I’ll miss the swag bags. I’ll miss the junkets. I’ll miss Selena.
Selena Gomez: I didn’t enjoy working with Andy at all, actually.
Andy Samberg: Aww, burn.
David Spade: That’s all she wants to add.
Selena Gomez: But I did want to answer the question. I remember I was really excited to meet Andy because I watched all of SNL [Saturday Night Live], watching David too, and everyone growing up. So I would have to say the first time being able to sit down with them, he made it so fun and easy. If anything he’s helped me relax more in interviews and just feel a bit a little bit normal. He also had my back. I will never forget because they asked me like a dating question or something and I don’t do those. Andy answered for me. It was nice.
Fran Drescher: Remember when we all went to the Toronto Film Festival?
Selena Gomez: That was so fun.
Fran Drescher: Thanks to Amazon for taking it on so everybody can watch it from home.
Andy Samberg: For the record, Fran said that this movie is as good as Spinal Tap.
Keegan-Michael Key: Yes, we heard it. We all heard that.
Copyright ©2022 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: January 13, 2022.
Photo #1 ©2021 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Pictures #2-7 ©2021. Courtesy of Amazon Studios. All rights reserved.