The Emoji Movie star T.J. Miller discusses the film’s theme of expressing emotions and the animated movie’s humor. When it was first announced that Sony was developing an animated movie based on emojis, many wondered what that film would eventually look like. The first trailer for The Emoji Movie debuted earlier this year, giving moviegoers their first taste of director Tony Leondis’ emoji world – and especially of the film’s protagonist, Gene (Miller), an emoji who feels inhibited by being expected to make the same face all the time. When Gene’s multiexpressional nature causes trouble in Textopolis – and draws the attention of Smiler (Maya Rudolph) – he goes on an adventure with Hi-5 (James Corden) and Jailbreak (Anna Faris) to become more “normal.”
The Emoji Movie has assembled an all-star cast of voice actors to portray various emojis that all ages of moviegoers will recognize, from Patrick Stewart as the poop emoji to Sofía Vergara as Flamenca, the flamenco dancer emoji. However, the leading emoji is voiced Miller, who has lent his voice to a number of animated projects, including Big Hero 6 and How to Train Your Dragon. Now, Miller talks about his latest animated role in The Emoji Movie and offers a little tease for another of his upcoming projects, including Deadpool 2.
During the recent press junket for The Emoji Movie, Screen Rant had a chance to interview Miller about the upcoming animated film, how he felt while watching it for the first time, and its message to young viewers about learning to express themselves. Additionally, Miller teases a little bit about what fans can expect from Deadpool 2, which is currently filming.
Miller: It’s actually funny. It would be weird for me to be like, ‘You should check out The Emoji Movie, I love doing stuff that’s not funny’. We were just talking – to let your audience know – we were just talking about how excited I am for people to see The Emoji Movie and walk out of the theater going, ‘I thought that was going to suck, that was actually a damn good time.’ So that’s going to be fun. When I saw it, I was anxious, because in the animated world you record alone, you only do the sections of the script that are yours. In their minds, there’s no reason to show you the whole script, which it doesn’t matter because I don’t really read the scripts of things that I do anyway because I’m not a very good actor. But it really is a great film. When I saw it, finally, after being kind of anxious, and I told … So, Kate [Gorney, Miller’s wife] and I were talking on the way there and I go, ‘I don’t know, I mean, should I get high before I watch this or should we have a drink just to steady our nerves? Like, I don’t know what to do.’ And she said, ‘No, I think let’s just watch it and kind of be sober minded about being able to give notes or thoughts or whatever.’ And we went and within 10 minutes, I kept turning to Kate going, ‘This is really good, right? This is really, really good.’
It ended up being a really funny, well-paced movie but also one that it’s a bit of a tearjerker at times but doesn’t feel like it’s forcing you to and then I really thought that the messages that were in the film about women.
Speaking of the messages, it has a great message about how expressing emotions is important, can you talk about how that message is important to both young girls and boys?
Miller: Yeah, I mean, that’s a really good – that’s a Screen Rant level question, if I’m going to be honest with you. Yeah, I think it’s very much not just about women being able to kind of express themselves and be whoever they want to be, which is a big part of the film. It’s also just that guys shouldn’t feel like they can’t express vulnerable emotions, it should be about people wanting actual friendship and friends that they can express themselves with and be wholly who they are rather than just having fans or followers. I think Gene wants one real friend, one true good friend and Hi-5 would rather have a thousand Instagram followers who, whenever he takes a picture of himself, he has to perfect and he has to look like he’s doing something really cool. So instead of sort of pretending to be this perfect version of yourself, it’s much more interesting to be authentic, and I think that’s where culture is headed in general.
So you’re shooting Deadpool 2 soon, right?
Miller: Sister, I was shooting it merely hours ago. So I was in Vancouver and took a red eye specifically to rant on your screens, sister!
Anything you can give me about how Weasel fits in?
Miller: No I can’t, Marvel is behind this black curtain with a Captain America-style shield that they will decapitate me with. This installment is going to be more Weasel-icious than ever before. I was crying so hard laughing that I dropped an iPad in a public restaurant when I was reading the script. As Ryan [Reynolds] and I were talking about, it’s this great thing where we know the tone, we know the stakes, everybody’s played these characters before – most importantly, we know the tone, we know how to hit it pitch perfect. So I think it might actually be funnier than the first one. I’m really, really excited. It’s not going to be like Hangover 2, it’s not going to be the same movie in a different location, for instance. It’s got different stakes, different things happen, some pretty tragic, dark sh-t happens in the first part of the film, in the beginning, and the rest of the film is kind of dealing with that, so that’s interesting. But Weasel remains just absolutely the most selfish individual on the face of the planet.
The Emoji Movie unlocks the never-before-seen secret world inside your smartphone. Hidden within the messaging app is Textopolis, a bustling city where all your favorite emojis live, hoping to be selected by the phone’s user. In this world, each emoji has only one facial expression – except for Gene (T.J. Miller), an exuberant emoji who was born without a filter and is bursting with multiple expressions. Determined to become “normal” like the other emojis, Gene enlists the help of his handy best friend Hi-5 (James Corden) and the notorious code breaker emoji Jailbreak (Anna Faris). Together, they embark on an epic “app-venture” through the apps on the phone, each its own wild and fun world, to find the Code that will fix Gene. But when a greater danger threatens the phone, the fate of all emojis depends on these three unlikely friends who must save their world before it’s deleted forever.
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