Drew Barrymore chats about voicing the pampered pooch in the talking dog pic “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”
Take Lady and the Tramp, crossbreed it with Babe and a Taco Bell commercial, and you’ll get the latest Disney talking-dog movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”.
Drew Barrymore voices Chloe, a diamond-drenched pooch who lives the high life in Beverly Hills. Beloved by her owner, Aunt Viv notices Papi, a hilarious Chihuahua who happens to be crazy for Chloe. But when the most pampered pooch gets lost in Mexico with only a street-wise German Shepherd to help her find her way home, Papi heads south of the border–joining forces with a motley crew: three dogs, two humans, a sly rat and a nervous iguana–to rescue his true love. Will Papi be able to find her in time before clueless Aunt Viv’s return? That’s the burning question.
In a recent interview, we caught up with Drew Barrymore to talk about playing the pampered pooch, working with animals, Steven Spielberg and her thoughts on the Oscars…
Q: What a fun movie, well done, what are your thoughts on a movie about dancing Chihuahas? DB: “Thank you. I’m so honoured that my friend Raja (Gosnell) directed Beverly Hills Chihuahua. He directed the first ever film I produced, Never Been Kissed. He said, ‘Will you do the voice of Chloe in this movie?’ He showed me the picture of this dog and it was the cutest little pinky-white Chihuahua. I just said, ‘Absolutely. I will do this.’ Then I got to meet all the other Chihuahuas while doing it. I got to work with George Lopez and Selma Hayek. It was really good to work with everyone in the booth because you get to interact. It was fun because normally you do that kind of thing on your own in a booth.”
Q: As an actress did you find yourself having to get into the head-space of a dog? DB: “Well that was easy for me because I have three rescue dogs so the panting and barking was my favourite part of it. But I did kind of channel to my dogs and tried to imagine how they think and feel.”
Q: This is the kind of movie that’s made for kids but that most adults seem to want to see. DB “That’s the greatest thing. My 28-year-old friend phoned me on the day it came out and said, ‘I’m going with my three guy friends.’ This family movie seems to transcend all of the tent pole quadrants as they say here in Hollywood. I love family films that make jokes for adults and it does have that.”
Q: You’ve been around for years but in some ways it seems like you are still a big kid yourself. DB: “I’m 33-years-old and I’m doing the voice of a Chihuahua and it feels completely right. I love it. I don’t know how you’re supposed to grow up or how one feels when one has grown up but I do really appreciate being a part of a family movie. Knowing that families are going to see it is very exciting to me.”
Q: What are your dogs’ names? DB: “Flossie, Templeton and Vivien. Vivien came almost three years after Flossie and Templeton, who are brother and sister. She is the ultimate diplomat. Flossie and Templeton were rescues at six weeks old.”
Q: What kind of dogs are they? DB: “I don’t know. They’re certainly not pure breed. I love mutts. I like their personalities. Vivien’s an Australian Border Collie mutt from the pound. She went right up to Flossie and got on her back in the submissive position and started licking her face. With Templeton she got up and started chewing on his leg and wrestling with him. She understood that Flossie needed to remain the queen and that Templeton would remain the playmate.”
Q: If your dogs were famous people, who would they be? DB: “(Laughs) Flossie would definitely be like Greta Garbo in Grande Hotel or Marlene Dietrich in Sunset Boulevard. She’s really dramatic. She’s like your classic Hollywood drama queen. Templeton is more like a goofy 14-year-old boy who hasn’t really grown into his skin yet. An adolescent Jim Carrey? He is so a young Jim Carrey. He’s the Eighties comedian and she’s the Twenties movie star. I don’t know who Vivienne would be.”
Q: Are most of your friends four-legged or famous? DB: “(Laughs) Some of the people I’m friends with are in the business, but my best friend is a make-up artist. I have friends who aren’t in this industry but that’s also what I live and breathe a lot of the time so of course you do end up with similar people.
Q: Do you remember your first pet? DB: “My first animal was a grey cat that I named Gertie because my godfather Steven Spielberg got her for me and I named her Gertie after my name in ET. She didn’t have much personality though. I was much more the whip-cracking joker in that film. Gertie wasn’t like that.”
Q: Does Steven Spielberg still give you advice? DB: “Absolutely. He’s been a major mentor. He taught me to always cry when you’re done with a crying scene. He would just say, ‘Get it all out, or else you’ll carry that emotion with you the whole day,’ and he’s so right. He always had high hopes for me.”
Q: You’ve led such an incredible life for someone still so young. Why hasn’t anyone ever turned your own life story into a movie? DB: “No one’s ever tried, to the best of my knowledge. How would I feel if they did? I guess I would have to understand the tone in which they were coming from – the place that it was being drawn from. I have thought about what would upset me or make me excited about it if someone were to make a movie of my life. What would be interesting about it? I wonder if anyone who made the movie would be as mean to my character as I was to myself? I can’t stop thinking about that. If they really went to that place of how hard I have been on myself. If they did, then I think they would really need to take a long vacation after the film was over.”
Q: Why were you so hard on yourself? DB: “Because I didn’t have any parenting. I had to crash and burn. I had to learn. I had to take care of myself. I had to get things wrong and then punish myself for them afterwards.”
Q: You seem to have made an effort to get away from romantic comedies recently. Why is that? DB: “Because I had started to get into a place that felt familiar and easy. I hated it. I had to get away from it, bumping my head on that familiar log. I remember one stewardess on a plane saying, ‘What do you have coming out?’ And I said, ‘Oh, I’m doing this romantic comedy.’ She said, ‘Another one!’ Part of me felt like saying, ‘Listen, bitch.’ But the other part of me felt like, ‘You know what? You are absolutely f***ing right. I need to change. I need to do other things.'”
Q: Do you think you’ll ever complete your journey and win an Oscar? DB: “I don’t like to talk about things like that. I think it jinxes it.’
Q: What would you choose, an Oscar or a husband for life? DB: “You cannot say that. You just cannot ask that question.”
“Beverly Hills Chihuahua” is in Irish cinemas from Jan 16th.