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Q+A: Pierre Coffin for Despicable Me, out on DVD and Blu-ray February 25th

Released on DVD and Blu-rau in the UK on February 25th, comes Despicable Me, the hit 2010 animated movie that was a huge success at the box-office, taking a huge $541 million at the worldwide box-offic.

In a secret hideout, hidden underground in happy suburbia we find Gru, who, with the help of his army of mischievous yellow minions is planning the biggest heist in history – to steal the moon! Finding delight in all things despicable, Gru and his mighty minions enjoy nothing more than using their array of shrink rays, freeze rays and battle ready vehicles to vanquish anyone that stands in their way. That is, until the day Gru encounters the immense will of three little orphaned girls who look at him and see something that no one else has ever seen: a potential Dad. One of the world’s greatest super-villains has just met his greatest challenge: three little girls named Margo, Edith and Agnes.

Here we catch up with the film’s director Pierre Coffin, who talks about working on the hit movie.

Pierre Coffin (Director)

Where did you hear about the script and how do you go about picking developing an animated feature film?

It didn’t happen to me this way actually. Chris Meledandri came to France and asked me if I would be interested in making Despicable Me, a project he’d had for several years. After much fussing around on my behalf, I accepted the job, asking that I take care mainly of animation. Turns out I did a bit more and we split up the workload equally between Chris Renaud and me. I’m not sure how realistic it is to say that you get to pick the movie you want to make. I think that when a movie is presented to you, you gauge how useful you might be to it, and what could be interesting for you to do it (artistically and financially). If your interests and passion match that of the producer then you end up accepting.

How do you go about casting for an animation feature film?

Casting was mainly taken care by production. They did ask us how we felt about the options but they were so great (S. Carell, K. Wiig, R. Brand, etc…) that we didn’t have much to say in the end. Every actor on the show was awesome, not only because of their acting skills, but also because they all had that talent to convey emotions through their voice. It seems dumb to say but it does happen sometimes to be working with a big commercial name that ends up being a flat animated character because of a lack of personality of the voice.

What was it like making the film and how long did it take?

It was… long. But fun! I think all in all it took us three years to make DM. I’d say it’s almost kind of short for an animated feature film.

What was it like working with the cast?

Again, sorry to state obvious stuff but it was great. All of them had ideas that they wanted to try out, or ad libs that they wanted to throw in. They all truly embraced the story and the characters. Plus they were all very nice casual persons. That greatly made the whole thing easier and funnier.

We hear that you and Eric Guillon came up with the idea of the minions and even did a few of the voiceovers. Tell us more about this?

The minions were in the script, in just a couple of scenes, and were described as thugs. Chris Renaud and I pitched an idea to Eric (to try to go for a mole man type of character) who brought it to a whole other level. The minions designs with the help of vocalisation made those characters come to life. In short, the minions were kind of built from the ground up by a lot of people.

What do you make of all this talk and fight between 2D animation and 3D? Do you think 3D will last?

3D=Stereoscopy or 3D=Computer generated movies? I’ll answer both. The fight between 2D (traditional animation) and CG is moot and ridiculous. If the story and the characters are great, you don’t care if its clay, drawings or pixels. It feels that people saying that 2D is dead, trust more the wow factor than their actual scripts or characters.?

Despicable Me is released on Blu-ray & DVD 21st February, 2011

Paul has been writing for film websites for over ten years. The Hollywood News was born out of love for film and his frustration at not being a very good filmmaker himself. Those who cannot do, write about – or so they say. Aside from the site, Paul has directed a music video (badly), has one credit to his name on the IMDb, enjoys running, driving (now that he has finally passed his test at the age of 33), and of course going to the movies.