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MONSTERS UNIVERSITY

In Charge
To DEAN HARDSCRABBLE, there are scary monsters and there are all other monsters. It's no surprise she feels this way -- she is, after all, a legendary Scarer and Dean of the School of Scaring at Monsters University. Aspiring Scare students must be up for the challenge to impress her, though she is convinced that her assessments of who is truly scary are never wrong.

"Hardscrabble has been arguably the hardest character that I've ever worked on in the 15 years I've been here," says character art director Jason Deamer. "We had as many as 12 people working on her. She had to be terrifying and creepy, but at the same time beautiful and graceful."

Filmmakers recruited a rare centipede for inspiration -- Scolopendra Gigantea, also known as the Amazonian giant centipede. "We didn't want her to be just a pure centipede," says production designer Ricky Nierva, "so we thought having a dragon-, bat-wing motif would be cool. She can get from point A to point B really quickly, and her wings provide great opportunities to illustrate her emotions -- when she gets angry, she can unfurl them quickly."

With 30 legs, spectacular wings and a lifetime of experience, Dean Hardscrabble knows Scaring. She has no use for mediocrity -- and her students know it. So when the hard-to-please Dean witnesses the spectacular culmination of the rivalry between Mike and Sulley, she takes swift action, dashing their dreams in an instant. Unlike Hardscrabble, Helen Mirren, who lends her voice to the character, appreciates Mike Wazowski's work ethic. "Following your dream is all very well, but without the hard work it's nothing. I think too many people think all you have to do is just have a dream and it will happen, and this movie very adroitly and very elegantly teaches a lesson to young people -- success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent sweat and hard work. And even then, there are no guarantees."

PROFESSOR KNIGHT teaches Scaring 101, the introductory course to Scaring at Monsters University. With hundreds of new Scare students each year, Professor Knight must weed out the weak from the talented and identify who shows the most potential to be real Scarers. Only a few have what it takes to pass the formidable final exam and move on to the elite Scaring Program.

Alfred Molina was tapped to bring the esteemed teacher to life. "Professor Knight is a cross between a football coach and a drill sergeant," says Molina. "He expects a lot of his students and he'll put them through their paces -- but he's demanding because he really wants to see them do well."

MS. SQUIBBLES is a doting, single parent who encourages, accommodates, and more so, coddles her only son, Scott "Squishy" Squibbles. Squishy is 19 years old and still lives at home, but who can blame him? Ms. Squibbles is Monstropolis' best mom -- she cooks for him, does his laundry and she even acts as house mom when he has his "little friends" over to play fraternity.

The filmmakers called on Julia Sweeney to give voice to the delightful mom. "Sherri Squibbles has five eyes, three eyebrows and a very thick neck," says Sweeney. "She's a round lady who's usually wearing curlers, and she's completely oblivious to the fact that she might be embarrassing her son in front of his friends -- but they can't say anything because they're in her house. I love that it's all great mom stuff."

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