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Interview: Breckin Meyer, Jennifer Love Hewitt for "Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties"

By Garth Franklin Wednesday June 14th 2006 05:56PM
Breckin Meyer, Jennifer Love Hewitt for "Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties"

America's favorite feline, Garfield, is back and following his owner Jon Arbuckle to England. The CG puss becomes caught up in a "Prince and the Pauper" like story of impostors, dastardly plots and lots of lasagna. Breckin Meyer and Jennifer Love Hewitt recently sat down to talk about reprising their roles from the first movie and again what it's like to work with a cat that's not really there (albeit in a foreign locale):

This second time around, when did they approach you guys to do this? Jennifer Love Hewitt: A couple of months after it had been out. Breckin Meyer: Yeah, John Davis called and I think kind of jokingly said, 'I'll see ya for number two'. I'm like 'Ha, I'll talk to you later.' We kind of went off and she was kind of doing her show during production but she was back on her show and I was off doing a movie and it slowly, just sort of trickled down with rumors and 'oh they're really talking about it. Oh, they actually commissioned Joel (Cohen) and Alec (Sokolow) to write a new one.' 'Well , we'll see' and then, just slowly, everything became more real and then the initial script had us going to London for the whole thing which I was very into but Love was doing her show and we couldn't work it out - we wanted her in the movie. I say, 'we' like I had anything to do with it; they really wanted to do it but I have no power, but they really wanted to get us. The new twist in the movie was this proposal so they had to change it a little bit and keep it here and have Jon follow her to London so we ended up doing a week in London without Love and then we came back and built a lot of the interior castle here. So she did not get to go to London. You guys have known each other a long time. Did that help? Breckin Meyer: Forever. Jennifer Love Hewitt: Yeah, I think so; it was really fun. This is the third job we've done together. When they called about doing the second one, I was like 'It's Breckin and I, right? He's definitely there?' Because I didn't know what they were going to do and they said 'absolutely' and I was like, 'Sold, fine - be there.' He was the biggest reason that I wanted to come back and do another one with the opportunity to work together; he's a really good guy and we have a lot of fun and it doesn't feel like work when we're together, it's fun. Breckin Meyer: Yeah, it was cool; she was working her ass off on her show doing seventeen hour days five days a week. It was just sick, just sick work and then we had to change our schedule a bit so we worked on a Sunday. We worked every Sunday because that's the only day she had available so she'd do all her work five days a week, have one day off on Saturday, which was usually filled with fittings for our movie, and then she'd come over on Sunday and work with us. It was great for us because I'm doing the whole week by myself with black beanbag sack and then on Sunday, a much prettier sack would come by and I'd get to act with you. It was lovely, it was a lot of fun; I looked forward to the Sundays. How much fun did you guys have doing the scenes together after all the chaos with all the special effects and animals? Breckin Meyer: It was fun. Jennifer Love Hewitt: Yeah, it was really fun. Breckin Meyer: It's always fun when you're doing the CGI stuff, to actually get to work with someone who is real, who's there. That was one of the things, also, that was so great about them adding Billy (Connelly) to this. You know, with a sequel you're always trying to get bigger and better - hopefully better, especially. They went bigger with going to London and filming at a castle and all the London stuff and interiors at the castle and just the animals, so many more animals, bulls and walruses; it was crazy, and with Tim Curry doing the voice of Prince. Then when they added Billy and Ian Abercrombie as Smithie, it was so great to have more people to react to. It was refreshing because you do get a little bit worried that you're just working with a sack all day and it was nice to have Love show up and have Billy there; it was a lot of fun. You're used to doing voices for the cartoon show, is it weird to be on a set and talk to nothingBreckin Meyer: The weird thing is you want to listen to them; obviously, there is someone talking off-camera, doing Garfield's lines but the weird thing is humans don't hear the animals so I'm acting with Garfield doing a scene and saying 'Garfield, I should go to London' and then there's just space. There's someone off camera doing the dialogue so you know when it's over to get your cue for the next line but I can't react to it; Jon can't react. It's weird to not be able to react to what is being said, it's really hard; it's very strange to react to someone who is not there. It's hard and then to react to something that's not there but audio-wise is there, is a weird experience. You kind of just put blinders and plug your ears and do it. But, I was always talking to Brian Manis, one of the producers who works with John, and on the first one, Bill Murray didn't come on until halfway through. It was always, 'Who's going to play Garfield? Who are we gonna get? Who are we gonna get?' All these names were brought up and Bill Murray, 'Oh, that would be amazing. Really, really be great, never gonna happen guys.' Once it happened, we were just so happy and, with this one, it was the same thing with all the voices that they were getting. When they said Tim Curry, you were just hoping. You're like 'Oh, it would just be so great; Tim and Bill going toe to toe' and even with Billy Connolly's role. They were talking about it and then, finally it came together. It was so lovely; it's always exciting, especially with the voice over stuff, to see who they're going to get. Are you appreciating your summer time off? Jennifer Love Hewitt: Yeah, I chose not to work; there were a couple of things I could have gone and done and I was like 'do I go and work or do I actually take the great opportunity given to me that I may never have again which is that I know the show is coming back and just take a month and a half or two months to just rest?' So, other than doing a few publicity things here and there, I've really done nothing. There is more stuff that I've learned how to cook and I've laid out in the sun and played with my dog and just kind of been a person, which is extremely important because, come July 10th, I'll no longer be a person. For nine months, it'll just be work, work, work. So, I've just rested and he's done twenty-two films; every half a second he does a new movie. Does it feel like you don't have any time off? Breckin Meyer: I have time off; I just finished a movie yesterday, literally. It's so silly; I'm going to start another in August. It was a movie called Blue State with Anna Paquin that we just finished yesterday and a movie called Caffeine and one called Ted's MBA which is really interesting actually. It means Ted's mini-brief affair. I'm Ted and havoc ensues. Actually, it's a pretty dark movie which is fun to do; I just like to do what I haven't done before and, right after Garfield, this script came and it took a while but we eventually went and did it. I just kept saying it was the anti-Garfield movie, but, I'm not going to do anything until August then I'll do another movie but I always say, half joking, but my job's a vacation. I get to goof off with a cat that's not there and play with Love and pretend to be other people and wear make-up for a living so I really don't need a vacation. I'm fine; it's really fun to go to work and my kid can come to the set and see all the animals in Garfield 2, that's a blast. You did work with live animals as well; were any of them uncooperative at all? Breckin Meyer: No, it's freakish how well-trained some of these animals are. Tyler and Chloe play Odie - Chloe is so adorable, sweetest little dog only wants to be petted; Tyler could not care less about you, Tyler wants to do his job. When we start goofing off on set, Tyler gets moody, he just wants to act; he's like the DeNiro dog. It's lovely, but the things that the trainers can get the bulls to do and things like that, it's just unbelievable. It was a messy outside area by our trailers, damn near disgusting. It kind of became an animal bathroom; I don't know why they parked out trailers right there.Jennifer Love Hewitt: They kept us and all the animals together. Breckin Meyer: They kept all the animals together but it was a lot of fun; it really was like having a zoo next door. You'd go out there and there were parrots and monkeys and pigs and everything. Jennifer Love Hewitt: You'd be in your trailer and you'd hear kaw-KAW (like a bird). Breckin Meyer: Wasn't a lot of napping in the trailers but it was a blast. So both those dogs were Odie? Breckin Meyer: Yeah, they're brother and sister. I saw them in Vanity Fair with Tom Hanks, or Esquire and Tyler was in it. I'm on an airplane reading this magazine cuz I'm pretty smart so I read magazines and I looked 'that's Tyler' and everyone was like 'that's Tom Hanks.' I'm, 'That's my dog, Tyler. I know the dog.' I blackberried Tyler and he wrote me back. Do you just tickle Garfield's imaginary chin and then they later make him fit what you do? Breckin Meyer: With the first one, we were a lot more hesitant to do things because it was like 'well, that's twenty thousand dollars every time you touch him.' 'So, okay I won't touch him; I don't know how to do this.' With this one, Chris Bailey, the effects guy, told me ahead of time, 'we've kind of streamlined it; we really know what we're doing now so the more interaction you have with Garfield, the better. So, if you're sitting there talking to him, it's actually better if you tickle under his chin or if you goof off with his ears because it make it more believable for the audience. So they tell you where his ears are? Breckin Meyer: No, they just give me the freedom of wherever I put them. You get tired throughout the day do I'd be like 'Garfield, I swear'(petting higher in the air) and they said 'Garfield is not a lion; you can't touch him way up there.' There were a couple of scenes in the first one where I'm holding nothing and I gave him a pet kind of two hard and in the movie they had to make Garfield kind of scrunch down like 'what the hell are you doin'?' This one, we definitely had more freedom on. Were you surprised to find success on television again? Jennifer Love Hewitt: Any time you do a project you never really know how people are going to take it especially on TV. I think they used to be more forgiving with shows than they are now; shows got a bigger chance so yeah, I was really surprised and happily surprised by it and a little nervous to go into a second season and, hopefully, be able to do bigger and better than we did in the first season and have people still watch.Would you try to make a movie when you are shooting a full TV schedule? Jennifer Love Hewitt: I'd have to think about it long and hard, not because it was actually that taxing but more I just worried that I was going to work really hard all week. Sometimes on Fridays, we do night shoots and so I won't wrap until five or six o'clock in the morning on a Saturday which means I sleep until two o'clock in the afternoon which means, from two o'clock until nine, when I go to bed, is basically my weekend and then I'd go to sleep and get up and go to Garfield. I just kept having this fear that I was going to get to Garfield and just not be good and not give him what he deserved out of his fellow actor and be grumpy or not well or whatever it was and then go back on Monday and still not be good on Ghost Whisperer either because I'd hadn't kind of caught up. So that was my fear so from my head maybe I would think about maybe not doing it again but, if something great came along, I'm sort of a workaholic and you can't really pass up something that you love. So, I would probably do it again but I'd have to definitely think about it long and hard. Did Billy Connolly crack you up? He seemed to ad lib a lot. Jennifer Love Hewitt: He was hilarious; even him talking was funny. He's just a really funny, great man; it was fun to see Breckin kind of star struck by him because he really is crazy about him. I didn't know; I hadn't seen his stand-up or anything, I just kind of know him from other things and was equally in awe of him but it was fun to watch him. Whatever Billy said, Breckin thought it was genius. Breckin Meyer: I did; I was riveted to Billy all the time.

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