In animated 3D, The Nut Job is an action-packed comedy in fictional Oakton that follows the travails of Surly (voiced by Will Arnett), a mischievous squirrel, and his rat friend Buddy, who plan a nut store heist of outrageous proportions and unwittingly find themselves embroiled in a much more complicated and hilarious adventure.
Will Arnett and Katherine Heigl discuss what's it like voicing characters, work/life balance, and who they would choose if they were hatching a plan like in The Nut Job.
Q. Have you done the voices for your kids?
Will Arnett: Yes, sort of. I mean, they've heard me talk. They especially know the word "no." I say that a lot. I should say it like Surly though. They're really excited for it though. When they see any of the commercials on TV they're like, "The Nut Job!!!" Or we drive by the bus signs and they're up against the [car] glass.
Q. Katherine, this is your first animated movie. What drew you to the role?
Katherine Heigl: I just really wanted to be a part of something that I could share with my kids. And we're BIG animated movie watchers. I think we pretty much queue something up every night to watch with the kids. I thought it would be fun if I was actually in [the movie].
Q. Is there one character from the film that you really can relate to?
Katherine Heigl : I like "Precious" the dog. (laughter)
Will Arnett: Yeah, "Precious" is kinda funny, and kind of sweet. Very precious.
Q. What do you think about work-life balance? Is it harder when you're a working parent in the spotlight?
Will Arnett: I think anybody who is a parent knows that it is a balance and you're always trying to figure out a way to... I try to reverse engineer it. To look at what my family demands are and what my kids need and try to work backwards from there and retrofit everything into it. I feel very blessed to work on something like this, where it doesn't take [me] away from the kids. Anything that takes me away from my kids I dislike.
Katherine Heigl: We moved to Utah. We've been home for the last two years and I finally got a job that took me three weeks in Cleveland. And it was very strange because I've never not brought my family with me. But this was a small movie and they didn't have a budget for that. And it was just three weeks and I thought, "I can do three weeks away. It's okay. I can handle it." And I almost find Facetiming harder. It makes you long to just touch them. And you can't 'cause you can see them... and I get this weird thing about the baby. I just want to hold the baby! So it was a little difficult. The first week was actually kind of okay. (laughter)
Will Arnett: One of my legitimate concerns is - when one of the kids comes and gets into bed with you during the night I always think, "I'm gonna have a black eye and I have to go to work and be on camera and they're going to be like, "hey man - you have a black eye and you gotta work today. What are you doing?"" (laughter)
Q. Will Arnett, do you prefer voiced animation over live acting?
Will Arnett: I think that most people would say that they prefer not to have to see my face. (laughter) No, it's true guys. I'm an idiot I get it. (laughter) But, they're different. They each have their pros and cons, of course, and doing something like this is fun because you can kind of create the world. You can kind of do anything. You can go off and be crazy and um, it's just a different experience. It's a different discipline.
Q. Do you show up in your pajamas when you do voice work?
Will Arnett: You mean, because you can?
Katherine Heigl: I wish I had! I got all dressed up.
Will Arnett: It's nice.
Katherine Heigl: Then I would finally take my shoes off and they would have to adjust the mic six inches. They would ask, "why are you wearing heels?" I don't know why. I'm strange.
Q. How do you prepare for a voice over role, versus a movie or tv show?
Katherine Heigl: I have no idea. That was the problem, really. I'm like, "I don't know what I'm doing here"
Q. What kind of freedom does voicing a character give you as opposed to live action?
Katherine Heigl: I don't know. I mean, you're kind of on your own when you're doing it whereas in live action you're working with someone else and what they do. This is so isolated in a way and you think about what may be happening. It's just described in a script.
Will Arnett: It is freeing in some ways that you can hide behind the microphone. But also, what makes it a little harder in certain ways is you have to convey a lot through just your voice. You have to convey a lot of emotion and so, it's just a different discipline. A different muscle that you have to work.
THE NUT JOB – opens in theaters nationwide on January 22. It will be released and distributed by CAPTIVE CINEMA