The Lorax with Danny DeVito Panel

The London MCM Expo was proud to have upon its main stage Hollywood actor and director Danny DeVito, who voices the title character in Universal Pictures’ upcoming film Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.

Based on Dr. Seuss’ book, when the young Ted (Zac Efron) tries to fulfil the wish of his girlfriend to see a real and natural tree, he travels outside the artificial city of Thneed-Ville to a barren wasteland, where he finds the Once-ler (Ed Helms). The Once-ler tells Ted the history of the trees and the story of how he met the Lorax (Danny DeVito), a grumpy orange creature who served as a guardian of the land protecting trees and animals.

Regarding the character of the Lorax, DeVito said, “When they asked me to play the part, he really reminded me of myself. It was really easy for me to get into character, to speak for the trees. Lorax is just a well rounded character.” Given the environmental message in the film, he also liked what the character stood for, saying, “He has purpose. He has something he wants. It’s like he’s trying to educate without force.”

DeVito revealed that the Lorax only has around “85 – 90 lines in the movie,” yet rather than just limiting his duties to voicing the character in English, DeVito also voiced the Lorax in four additional languages. It will be his voice in the German, Italian, Russian and Spanish versions of the film as well, with DeVito revealing how he had to speak the other languages phonetically.

DeVito then downed a glass of Diet Coke in one go (“The colours are so vibrant! I feel like it’s 1968 baby!”), and went on to explain that he is currently acting alongside Richard Griffiths in a revival of Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys at The Savoy Theatre. Doing eight shows a week he said that his last show is on 28th July. He didn’t appear to have a preference when it came to working on film or in the theatre, instead describing his role in The Sunshine Boys as a new challenge, saying, “I like doing different things,” and how with theatre, “nobody’s gonna yell cut. Nobody’s gonna say, ‘take two.’”

Following on from “different things,” he said how he loved directing the children’s film Matilda and the comedy drama The War of the Roses, two films that are so diametrically opposed to each other. The latter was the last time he collaborated with both Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. “I love those two,” he said. Having since starred alongside them separately, he said that he would like to work with them again, only that “it’s really about the material and the timing.”

When it came to answering questions from the audience, DeVito actually decided to stand up and look out to those asking the questions, appearing to show a genuine interest to the fans that turned up to see him. Earlier in March came the announcement of a sequel to Twins, called Triplets, which DeVito was prompted about. He revealed that he’d actually talked about it with his Twins co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger a few weeks ago before arriving in the UK, and then said, “Arnold is out of politics, thank God. He was like the worst governor!” The audience burst into laughter when he told them that the third brother in the film would be played by Eddie Murphy!

With an acting career that spans as far back as the 1970s, he was asked if there was anything he has turned down. “I haven’t found anything I wouldn’t do yet,” he responded. To further prove his point, he was asked about his notable guest appearance as a stripper on an episode of the American sitcom Friends, and if playing that part took a lot of convincing. “Being the exhibitionist that I am, I said ‘yes’. It took no convincing!”

Having played a wide variety of characters, he said, “I feel like it’s good to stay in character as much as you can,” but when asked if he had a favourite, he revealed that he doesn’t really have one. “It’s very, very difficult to have a favourite, said DeVito. “They’re with you forever.” However, one member of the audience did have a favourite and asked him what it was like playing The Penguin – Oswald Cobblepot – in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. DeVito suddenly adopted the voice of Cobblepot and snarled, “It was a gift. I was a bird who could not fly!” He then told the audience how he wanted try something he’s always wanted to do, so upon talking as Cobblepot, proceeded to drool from his mouth! As revolting as it was, the crowd laughed and applauded at seeing Cobblepot sprung back to life again!

The panel closed with the trailer to Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, and given the reaction from the audience, will likely prove to be just as huge a hit here in the UK as it was in the US!

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax opens in the UK on July 27th.


All images supplied by Vikki Luff Photography

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