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THE SMURFS 2

About the Human Beings
Three years have passed since Patrick and Grace Winslow last saw their blue buddies. But when the Naughties kidnap Smurfette and bring her to Paris, the Winslows get a visit from Papa, Clumsy, Grouchy and Vanity -- the Smurfs will need their human friends to save Smurfette from their arch-nemesis.

You'd think with PATRICK WINSLOW having a few years ago become a father to a son, Blue, he'd calm down, go with the flow a little bit more. Well, he might have, had he resolved his issues with his own stepfather, Victor Doyle. The two have butted heads for decades -- while Patrick remembers his childhood one way, it's never crossed his mind that Victor might have a distinctly different perspective. However, once the Smurfs recruit the Winslows (and Victor!) to take part in the rescue mission, all of those feelings are exposed when their attention should be on saving Smurfette.

As a father in his own right, Neil Patrick Harris, identifies with his character, Patrick Winslow. Being a part of the Smurfs franchise gives Harris the opportunity to share the experience with his family. "I'm a dad," says Harris. "I really enjoyed making the first Smurfs and I was really proud of the end result. Now that I'm a family guy myself, I think it's good to have roles in movies that are age appropriate for them to see, so it's nice to be a part of The Smurfs."

Harris sees Patrick's and Smurfette's story as a parallel journey towards family. "The story goes right to the history of Smurfette's existence. It makes her question who her family is, who to trust, and where she's from," explains Harris. "That becomes the overriding question for all of us in our various ways within the movie."

In The Smurfs 2, as Smurfette deals with her unresolved feelings toward her origins, so too will Patrick Winslow have to address his own relationship with Victor Doyle, the man who raised him. "Patrick's father had left when he was very young, four or five, and his stepfather, Victor, moved in with him and his mother. They never got along, for a number of reasons," says Harris. "And so, when Victor comes and joins the adventure, Patrick is having the same kind of internal struggle. He doesn't feel like he's Victor's son, and he doesn't really want Victor to be around. But Patrick learns through the process of this adventure with the Smurfs that your family is more about who you love and who loves you, and less about where you actually come from. That's a great lesson for everyone to remember, if not learn for the first time."

Patrick's and Victor's relationship may be like oil and water, but Harris had great chemistry with Brendan Gleeson. "He was just a terrific choice, because he's able to be over the top, and yet very grounded in a sense of reality," says Harris. "What could be a buffoon of a role, he makes it an actual person. Acting against him is terrific."

In Jayma Mays, Harris could not have asked for a more perfect choice to portray Grace. "I'm a big, big fan of Jayma Mays. She's just a bright light of adorableness, she's smart, she's so sharp, she's beautiful, she's funny, she's just the perfect choice for the heroine in this type of movie," says Harris. "We can have banter in the movie that seems like we've been a couple for a long time."

GRACE WINSLOW's warm, maternal instincts helped her forge a bond with the Smurfs during their previous visit to New York -- especially with Smurfette, who she regards as a 'sister.' So, of course, Grace has no intention of sitting idly by while her sister is manipulated into participating in one of Gargamel's horrid plans for destroying the Smurfs! Snapping up her adorable son (named in a loving tribute to the Smurfs), BLUE WINSLOW, she informs her husband that her sister is in trouble, and they are going to help -- NOW!

Jayma Mays grew up with a Smurf-obsessed mom. "She was a huge fan. She forced me to watch the Smurfs," recalls Mays. "When I was growing up, every Saturday morning, I would come downstairs thinking, 'Oh, it's my morning, it's cartoon morning, and I can watch what I want.' No, mom wanted to watch the Smurfs."

A first-time mom, Grace's relationship with the Smurfs has made her a better mother. "They have just had their first child, appropriately named Blue Winslow. She's learning about parenting," explains Mays. "I feel like Grace is probably the most grounded character. She's a good mom. She cares about family. I think that's why she loves the Smurfs so much -- I feel like her mothering instincts kicked in when she met the Smurfs, because they're these adorable wonderful creatures."

For Mays, it's especially gratifying to work opposite Neil Patrick Harris. "Working with Neil is fantastic. He's everything that you assume that he would be. He's wonderful, fun and caring. He's as much fun off the set as he is on the set," says Mays. "He comes in with amazing ideas; you can tell he really thinks about what he's doing. He's also so good at making a scene feel real and talking through things to make sure everything makes sense. It's wonderful to be able to work with him."

From Mays' point of view, the Smurfs' cross-generational appeal stems from its unique combination of light-hearted fun and uplifting, family-friendly life lessons. "They're popular because they have such a good message," explains Mays. "There aren't a lot of family cartoons anymore where you can sit down as a family, watch, and actually learn something or gain something. Especially one that has such good, moral family tales as this, that is also funny and light."

"I also feel that for kids, there's always a Smurf to identify with," adds Mays. "Whether you feel Jokey one day, or Grouchy or Clumsy another day, those specific identities are something that kids in particular can relate with, and I think just all those things combined, make them popular, desirable, and pleasing to watch."

VICTOR DOYLE is an affable, disorganized, and big-hearted mess -- just the opposite of his son (step-son!), Patrick Winslow. It seems that no matter what Victor's intention is, his action turns out to be the wrong one, at least in Patrick's eyes. The gulf is too wide for these two to ever get together... until they are forced to put all of that aside to help save Smurfette.

A newcomer to the Smurf franchise, Brendan Gleeson says, "I feel privileged to be part of something that opens that whole world up," says Gleeson. "Being part of a world that is magical, young, optimistic, slightly complicated and fun is exciting."

Gleeson plays the overly talkative, overbearing, but big-hearted Victor Doyle, the bumbling Korndog King. "Victor's larger than life, and he embraces the world in a very wholesome kind of a way," says Gleeson. "He actually believes that he makes the best corn dogs in the history of the world."

"He's got a very big heart. He fills the space in a room," adds Gleeson. "What made me really like him was that he could do the tough love business, too, and he could take a few hits if it meant that Patrick could work his way through a difficult time."

A dad himself, it's a role that Gleeson identifies with -- a parent's unending patience for his children, whether by birth or otherwise. "Fatherhood is the best thing that ever happened to me in my own life, I know that," states Gleeson. "For stepfathers, it's a bit of a challenge about where they should fit in, particularly when you don't have the old style nuclear family. But this film is really about love that is unconditional -- it doesn't have to be the way that most people see as 'normal.' It doesn't have to be anything other than the fact that people care about each other, and I think that's really valuable."

But truth be told, there was one reason above all that sold Gleeson on the role. "This is one of the great reasons I did the film: I liked the character, of course, but how many times do you get to turn into a duck?" says Gleeson. "I'll tell you: not very often. I couldn't pass up the chance to explore my inner mallard."

As for Harris, whose character interacts with Victor in this transformed state, the duck stole every scene. "They're surprisingly good. They bat at things with their beak. They're funny, they'll sit there forever," says Harris. "I'll have a scene where I'm supposed to talk with the duck, and the duck will wag its mouth at me, shake its head, and everyone keeps laughing."

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