By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
GLENDALE, Calif.—“Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons provides the voice of Oh, a banished alien, who kindly helps a human girl (voiced by singer Rihanna) try to find her mother (played by actress/singer/talent judge Jennifer Lopez) in DreamWorks animated comedy adventure “Home.” Directed by animation veteran Tim Johnson (“Over the Hedge,” “Antz”) and written by Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember, the family friendly feature marks Parsons first foray into animated film.
The Houston native, who possesses a sardonic wit, recently spoke at a press conference at DreamWorks Animation headquarters in Glendale, Calif., about venturing into the world of voiceover, tackling the otherworldly animated character, working with Rihanna and how the themes of the movie about acceptance and respecting other people’s differences resonated on a personal level with him.[private]
Q: What themes of this movie attracted you to it?
Parsons: Through the process of working on it, you discover what’s lying at the heart of it more than I knew going into it. The little guy I play—Oh, the alien—he really comes in with a set of ideas and how the world is supposed to be, and he thinks that’s all good and right. He meets the character Rihanna plays, Tip, and really understands what it is to accept other people who have different ways of doing things and whose beliefs may be different than yours, but that you can still be very, very close.
That really resonates with me, in our own lives, if you will. I’ve thought a lot about being a gay person while making this movie—and it has nothing to do with that specifically at all—but just being judged by something that people may not identify with or understand or have certain beliefs about, and then they get to know you for who you are. That’s just the one I personally identify with, obviously. It could be a million things. It shows how important it is to take people at a deeper level than that and let them be who they are in their heart.
Q: How did the role of Oh come to you?
Parsons: I was approached about it, and I had never done (an animated movie) before, so even before I knew what the story was, I was very excited about the idea just because I wanted the chance to do an animated film.
Then, once we talked about it, I just liked the little guy, the character I was playing so much, even just in the way he looked. I held it up to a friend and I was like, “Could I voice this?” and they were like, “Oh, yes!” And then once we got involved, it has really been the biggest reward. It’s just the most interesting playtime I’ve ever had as an actor. It’s really got this feeling of going down a mysterious but joyful black hole where there’s nobody else there.
Direction is being thrown at you by (director) Tim (Johnson), but once you relax for about 15 or 20 minutes and really go, “I don’t care. I’m going to look like an ass,” it’s really fun to see what happens. You know that nothing’s being visually judged in that way. Thank God! I never left (a recording session for this) without being a sweaty mess. Ever.
Q: What do you want audiences to take away from the film?
Parsons: It is the core that seems to be how important friendship is, and kind of going back to something I said earlier. You just never know when it’s going to be or who it’s going to be with but if you’re open to it, some real magic can come into your life in that way.
I spent a brief period of time very early on working at a daycare center. We would play the same animated movies again and again, but they always enjoyed them. I do think with something like this the hope would be that it’s simply entertaining to them and any message—goodwill toward men or whatever— it kind of hits it more subliminal. The general tone of it keeps playing, but it’s fun enough to watch that you can have time to absorb that message.
I will say one of my favorite things about working on this, in general, is that I’ve been so excited from the beginning—and even through to today—working on something so original. It is from source material, but not one that many people know. There’s nothing wrong with recreating things or Part 2, Part 3s of a good thing—God willing that we could—but for now, one of the things that’s so exciting to me is that these are new characters and a completely new story. To me, the animation looks brand new. One of the last times we saw some of the more finished scenes, I said, “What are they doing? It looked like they invented something!” I’ve never seen animation quite like this. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I didn’t feel like I had.
Q: What do Oh and Tip learn along their journey?
Parsons: They learn they can help each other.
Q: What is Smek Day?
Parsons: Smek Day is essentially a celebration day. Smek is our leader, so anything would be named after him.
Q: What is “home” for you?
Parsons: It’s where you feel unjudged, and where what I do isn’t necessarily stupid or wrong.[/private]