Team Turbo -- The Racing Snails
Turbo's other key relationship is with the collective known as the Racing Snails, who ultimately serve as his pit crew at the Indy 500.
The Racing Snails are: Whiplash, Smoove Move, Burn, Skidmark, and White Shadow.
Unlike the super-powered Turbo, the group is made up of your everyday, garden- variety mollusks. But these adrenaline junkies, like Turbo, insist on living life in the fast lane. What they lack in speed, they make up for with their ingenious methods of winning races -- a unique style of parkour in which they luge down rain gutters, parachute off telephone poles, and zip-line across power lines. The characters' combination of humor, inventiveness and heart make them the most unforgettable pit crew in the history of racing.
The Racing Snails are much more than comic relief. "They embody exactly what Turbo stands for, which is not allowing your limitations to hold back your dreams," notes Soren. "And with that philosophy, they live very fulfilling lives. As Turbo's pit crew, they help him fulfill his destiny, which is to embrace who he is and where he comes from."
Before Turbo arrived on the scene, the leader and reigning champ of the Racing Snails was Whiplash. To be a member of Whiplash's crew, you must earn his respect, and until you do, you'll never experience the real Whiplash -- a warm, jovial guy who treats his crew like family.
Samuel L. Jackson portrays Whiplash. The Academy Award nominee says he "wanted to bring a sense of bravado and gravitas" to the character, exemplified in a thunderous pep talk to Turbo delivered during the film's climax. "Whiplash speaks to Turbo as a coach and leader, and encourages him to be his best," says Jackson. "And that includes getting his attention when need be. Whiplash's and the entire crew's job is to give Turbo a sense of toughness, self-awareness, and backbone."
Like many of the filmmakers, Jackson embraced the film's take on an underdog story. "Everybody loves an underdog, and what can be more of an underdog than a snail competing in the Indy 500? At the same time, when you tell people you're making a movie about racing snails, you'll get the 'For real?' response, because one doesn't go with the other. But when you watch TURBO, you go, 'Okay, all right, I could let my mind go with this.'"
Soren notes of Jackson's casting: "When you have Sam Jackson in your movie, you know you're going to get amazing energy from him, and Whiplash was the perfect character in which to harness it."
Another Racing Snail, Smoove Move, is portrayed by legendary singer/rapper/songwriter/actor Snoop Dogg. Smoove is a super-cool low-rider with a blinged-out shell. He has a unique perspective on even the craziest twists and turns of Turbo's adventures.
Soren wrote the character with Snoop in mind. "I wanted each of the Racing Snails to have a distinct personality and visual traits, he explains. "Snoop does the Zen-like, laidback type so well, and I kept hearing his voice as I was writing Smoove."
The sole distaff member of the crew is Burn, who has no trouble holding her own amidst her testosterone-fueled, speed-worshiping teammates. Sly and sassy, and always chewing gum, Burn hides her soft side under a hard outer shell (adorned with shooting flames). SNL icon Maya Rudolph portrays Burn.
Soren says one of the initial inspirations for Burn came, in part, from a character from the classic '70s/'80s sitcom Happy Days -- the super-cool, Demolition Derby-loving, perpetually gum-chewing, Pinky Tuscadero. Soren explains: "Once we cast Maya, we looked at a lot of her work from Saturday Night Live, and we particularly liked a gum-chewing character she played in the show. That led to the Pinky Tuscadero connection, and that's how Burn came together."
Burn holds a torch for Turbo's brother Chet, with whom she immediately feels some major heat. "She's very forward," says Rudolph, "and doesn't get a chance to meet many outsiders, so Chet's arrival on the scene is a big deal for her."
Another Racing Snail, Skidmark, is a master of trashtalk, and serves as Whiplash's feisty #2. His shell is souped-up like a dragster, and he's prone to making long skidding noises. Ben Schwartz, who stars in the hit Showtime series House of Lies, takes on the role, to which he brought, says Soren, some mad ad-libbing skills.
Then there's White Shadow. Full of false bravado and real laughs, White Shadow considers himself to be "fast, like a shadow" -- ignoring the fact that shadows aren't inherently fast. A former DreamWorks Animation storyboard artist named Michael Patrick Bell had done the temp voice, in a hulking basso profundo style, and he was so effective in the role that a short-term gig became a co-starring role.
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