what happens around us is here

Exclusive Interview with Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio

Cinco Paul and Ken DaurioCinco Paul and Ken Daurio

May 21, 2010 – Screenwriters Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio (Horton Hears a Who!, Bubble Boy) are the creative masterminds behind Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures’ animated family-friendly comedy, Despicable Me. The talented twosome also penned the upcoming Hop (formerly known as I Hop), the Easter Bunny tale with James Marsden and Russell Brand, and Dinner for Schmucks starring Steve Carell and Paul Rudd. And after turning over their work to directors to bring to life on the screen, Paul and Daurio are going to be tackling their first film as directors with The Lorax, based on the Dr. Seuss story.Although Paul and Daurio typically sing their pitches to studio executives, I found out that, sadly, they do their interviews without warbling a single note.

Exclusive Interview with Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio

Why are you taking the leap into directing?Cinco Paul: “It’s something we’ve always wanted to do, you know? As a writer you’d love to be able to have more control, I guess. As a writer you have not that much control over the finished product, so it’s nice to be able to oversee the whole thing from start to finish.”

Ken Daurio: “That was a really nice way of saying they always mess up your script.”

Cinco Paul: “I was not going to say that, because in some cases they make it better. But, yeah, control is good. It’s no fun to go sit down and watch a movie that your name is attached to and see a bunch of scenes that you would never have put in the movie, you know? That’s kind of a rough thing to see sometimes.”

Has that happened?

Ken Daurio: “Yes, it has. Yes, it has.”

How do you normally react? Do you ever confront the director?

“There’s a lot of crying.”

Ken Daurio: “No. I mean there’s nothing you can really do. It kind of goes with the territory. You turn the script in and then they can really do whatever they want with it from there. And so, yes, so that moment when you hand over the script and you sit and wait and hope, that is really the fuel that kind of makes you wish you were directing the movie at that point. So that’s sort of how we got there.”

Is there one specific project, without naming names, that you look back on and say, “That’s the one we should have directed ourselves?”

Cinco Paul: “I would say that…yes. I think – I don’t know. Yes, I’d say there’s one, kind of our first experience started off really positively and then went really to a negative place. And that made us think, ‘You know what? Some day we’re going to direct a film so this can’t happen again.'”

But then it’s still taken you a while to get to the point where you’re actually ready to direct.

Cinco Paul: “Well I think we always wanted to direct, but you sort of have to look for the right opportunity and a situation where someone’s willing to give you a shot. And the time has finally come.”

Is it more difficult when you’re setting out to write an animated film than it is live action?

Ken Daurio: “I wouldn’t say it’s more difficult, I mean now it’s, now having done it a couple of times now it’s certainly, you’re looking at this giant mountain in front of you as you sit down to start writing the script because you realize it’s going to be, we’re going to be working on the script for three/four years. And so in that sense it’s a little more difficult, but it’s also a lot of fun. It’s great to be involved all the way through, as opposed to when you turn your script in and they go off and shoot it. So far with animation, you know, we’ve been involved in the whole process, which means even up to the last minute we’re involved in the changes that are being made and have a little bit more say in those changes. So it’s nice, it’s nice but it’s a big undertaking. Yes, it’s a marathon.”

And when you get someone like Steve Carell who does like to throw in his own stuff and who takes things in his own direction, does that make it more difficult on you or is that really a joy when you have someone like that to work with?

Ken Daurio: “Well with Steve Carell it’s absolutely a joy. You know, we are just such big fans and he’s made so much of what we’ve done better. He goes in there and he’s great because he’ll record the lines as written and then he’ll have fun with it and expand and experiment. He really brings a lot of great stuff to the movie.”

Cinco Paul: “Yes, and it’s interesting because I would say candidly he has never made a bad choice. He really hasn’t, which is pretty impressive.”

Ken Daurio: “In ad-libbing and reading the lines.”

Cinco Paul: “Yes, in ad-libbing and coming up with his own stuff. It’s always really funny and it’s true to the character. And so when you have someone like that, it’s a total joy.”

With his ad-libs, did Steve Carell take the character any direction where you guys went, “Hey wait, why didn’t we think of that?”, and then you had to go back in and finesse it a little more?

Cinco Paul: “Well I think from the very first meeting with him, you know he was the one who came up with this voice for the character. We were just writing him as this evil villain and didn’t have necessarily this accent in mind, because the accent is crazy and didn’t exist and it was like something out of his head. So when we heard it for the first time, it really did open up kind of the door to writing for this character, you know? It gave you more personality. You could start to hear things that he would say. So from the very beginning he brought things to the character that we didn’t think of.”

That must be fun to work with someone like that.

Ken Daurio: “Yes, it is.”

Are you going to have him in The Lorax?

Cinco Paul: “We cannot say.” [laughing]

Of course you cannot say.

Cinco Paul: “But I don’t know.”

But if all things worked out it would be great to have him, right?

Cinco Paul: “We would work with him.”

Ken Daurio: “Yes. We worked out with him on Horton Hears a Who! and Despicable Me and so…”

And Dinner for Schmucks. Was that a different experience working with him because it was live action?

Ken Daurio: “You know, we were not involved. We wrote the original draft of that script many, many years ago, so we weren’t involved on the set with Steve at all on Dinner for Schmucks.”

Cinco Paul: “That script was, in our minds, dead for years and then all of a sudden we heard, ‘Wait a minute, it’s actually happening.'”

Ken Daurio: “That was a nice surprise, yes.”

When you write something like that and you put it aside, is it something you even want to revisit? Or is it dead, it’s gone, it’s behind you?

Cinco Paul: “I think you always hope that some of these scripts that you write that you’re proud of that are just sort of sitting there, will someday find a home and someday come to life. So that was really nice because we were actually always pretty proud of that script, but it was just sort of languishing there.”

Ken Daurio: “But yes, there are others that you move on and you are kind of glad… You know what I’m saying? That was probably the best thing for that script.”

Cinco Paul: “Yes, put it out of its miser

Cinco Paul and Ken DaurioCinco Paul and Ken Daurio

What can we expect from Despicable Me?Ken Daurio: “We’ve been having such a great time at these preview screenings because it seems like we’re kind of there. It seems like parents are liking it and kids are liking it, and it’s really fun. It’s fun to see that when everybody seems to be liking it.”

Cinco Paul: “You can hear all the laughs and then see the grownups get a little emotional at certain parts. It’s nice.”

Oh no, it’s not going to be one of those animated movies that makes us cry, is it?

Cinco Paul: “Yes.”

Ken Daurio: “Yes, there may be a little bit of emotion.”

Cinco Paul: “That’s actually what one of the moms said. We were at a test screening and they ask questions afterwards and the mom says, ‘I really was not prepared to cry today.’ And that was nice to hear, if you can kind of sneak a little emotion in on people.”

How do you guys work together as a writing team?

Ken Daurio: “Well, usually we’ll outline a section of the script and then we’ll kind of divide up the scenes. You know, ‘Cinco, you do this scene and I’ll do that scene,’ and we’ll go away and we’ll go to our separate little desks and we’ll write our scenes, and then we put them together and then we’ll read through it. And the goal is to make the other guy laugh. And so that’s how we do it. And then as we’re reading through, we’ll pitch out things for each other’s scenes and we’ll read them and throw out jokes and things like that. And that’s sort of where we really put it all together and finalize it. But that’s generally how we do it. We kind of separate and write our scenes and come together – and we’re very competitive.”

What happens if you get to the point where you’re butting heads over where a scene should go? Who has the final say?

Cinco Paul: “Arm wrestling. You know what? Generally we always sort of find a way through it. We don’t have a lot of big fights.”

Ken Daurio: “No.”

Cinco Paul: “A lot of time it is sort of saying like, ‘You know what? Maybe I don’t know what’s funny in this situation. Maybe Ken knows better than I do. Well, let’s give it a shot.’ And every once in a while someone will win an argument and it’ll go in the script, and then there’s that meeting when the note comes back to change that joke and, boy, the other person is so happy at that moment.”

Is it easy to tap into humor that kids get?

Cinco Paul: “You know, it’s interesting because Ken and I just basically write to make each other laugh, and so I guess generally we hope the kids will laugh too and like it. And generally they do, but you never want to write for kids or write down to kids. Kids are human beings with senses of humor, just like everybody.”

Ken Daurio: “Yes, and we each have kids so we’ve been to those movies that you just want to take a nap in and that you just are miserable in, but the kids are happy and you go for the kids. And the goal is to not make one of those. You want to make a movie that mom wants to go to and dad wants to go to and the kids are going to like it as well.”

How far along are you on your directing project, The Lorax? I know you can’t say anything about casting or any of that.

Cinco Paul: “Yes, we’re not allowed to talk about any of that. There’s very little we can say. The animation has not begun but we’ve been working on the script for quite a while and doing a lot of character design and storyboarding.”

Ken Daurio: “And working with the Seuss Estate and Audrey Geisel and just getting this thing in shape and ready to go.”

Cinco Paul: “In two years it comes out so…”

Is it easier for you guys since you do have the background of working with the Seuss Estate on Horton Hears a Who!?

Ken Daurio: “Yes, I think so. You know, Audrey Geisel was so happy with the movie that I think that actually makes her more comfortable with us, and comfortable with allowing us to explore and have a little bit of freedom with the next project. I think she trusts us a little bit, so that’s nice.”

And I Hop – is it now officially just Hop?

Cinco Paul: “It has changed to just Hop.”

I like I Hop.

Cinco Paul: “There’s so much pancake confusion.”

It’s a fun title.

Ken Daurio: “No, it’s just Hop. But you know what? Maybe it’ll change again, who knows?”

Maybe it’ll be Bunny Hop or something.

Ken Daurio: “Yes, who knows?”

Where did you come up with the idea for that?

Cinco Paul: “That was actually pitched to us by… Was it John?”

Ken Daurio: “I think it was Chris [Meledandri]. It was either Chris or John Cohen.”

Cinco Paul: “John Cohen, one of the execs at Illumination [Entertainment] was like, ‘We need to do an Easter Bunny movie.’ And so then we took that idea, took it and ran with it. It was a lot of fun.”

Cinco Paul: “It is a great idea because, you know, I mean there’s a couple of bunny movies that are trying to be the big Easter movie, but there just isn’t one yet, you know? There’s tons of Christmas movies and some Halloween movies, but no Easter movies.”


May 31, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: