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PUSS IN BOOTS

Characters and Cast
From the outset, one of the keys to the popularity of the character of Puss in Boots was the voice that came out of the outlaw hero—Antonio Banderas.

Director Chris Miller: "Puss in Boots is played by Antonio Banderas, or is Antonio Banderas played by Puss in Boots? I don't know, sometimes it's hard to tell the two of them apart. But one thing's for sure, one could not exist without the other, because Antonio brings such passion to the role. This tiny little creature should have, you would think, a squeaky voice—but out of his mouth comes this deep sound. There some real humor created in the juxtaposition of the two. Here's this great actor with a massive voice, and he's voicing this cute, furry animal. What I love about Antonio's performance is when he takes himself the most seriously, and Puss is doing something truer to his nature, like chasing a point of light.”

Joe Aguilar comments, "I think the attraction to the character starts with Antonio. His performance is fun, charismatic, full of machismo, mystery and adventure. And then, you look at the cat, and then you hear that deep sound coming out of his mouth—you start cracking up and you want to know more.”

Banderas himself says, "He's such a great character. There are so many different colors that we've been discovering since I started giving him my voice in 2002. He's romantic and he's an epic hero. He's got a great heart. He's got a sense of honor and loyalty—along with a little bit of something mischievous that I think just adds an edge that is interesting. The kids love that, too, that side of him. But when he started in the Shrek movies, we really didn't know much about him. He was and still is a bit mysterious. For me, actually, the character is a dichotomy and that's what makes him funny.”

Waxing somewhat philosophic, the actor looks at the larger things that the tiny cat stands for: "You know for me, Puss is not just a cat. It's an honor and a privilege, in the very difficult times that we are living in, to have the capacity and the opportunity to make people laugh, all around the world. It's a gift. For almost 10 years now, even from the beginning, Puss started having his own space, if you will, in the American pop culture and then, in the world. I have seen the effects that the cat produces in other countries, too. Because I am from Spain, I have also the opportunity to do the character for a wider range of people, around 800 million people more, because I do the character in two versions of Spanish—one version goes to South and Central America, with its special idioms that they use for humor, and then I do a Castilian version for Spain.”

The performer shares a number of skills with his onscreen counterpart: Banderas can wield a sword (a skill he learned while portraying Zorro in two films), can hold his own on the dance floor (something he demonstrated on Broadway, as well as in movies), and he has more than proved himself able to portray the archetypal ‘Latin lover' (in film after film after film): "I am taller, to be certain, but in many ways, Puss in Boots and I are very much alike.”

The world of Puss in Boots is populated by twisted nursery-rhyme characters, but few are as twisted as Puss' former friend, Humpty Dumpty. When our story begins, Puss is an orphan growing up in the small village of San Ricardo where he befriends a somewhat odd (and oddly shaped) fellow. Per Miller: "Puss would listen to Humpty's dreams, he had all these plans, but at the end of the day, he's just an egg. He can barely move around—he doesn't have the facility to really accomplish any of his goals. He was picked on and a bit of an outsider, and Puss protected him and always stood up for him. So you have Humpty the dreamer and Puss, who helps facilitate the dreams.”

They both dream of leaving the orphanage for a better life— all they need is a few magic beans to grow into a beanstalk so they can steal a fabled goose that lays golden eggs from a giant's castle in the clouds. Simple, really.

The childhood search for the fabled beans turns up nothing, so the childish dream begins to recede…for Puss, at least, and the two begin to drift apart.

It isn't long before the cat of action finds his true calling, when he selflessly rescues a woman from the path of a charging bull. San Ricardo quickly bestows the title of hero to Puss, which earns him his debonair hat and legendary boots (meant to stand for truth, honor and courage). As with many duos in lore and history, once one achieves fame and fortune, jealousy is quick to follow. So when Puss agrees to help Humpty in a joint venture that goes awry (all in the name of saving their friendship,) the two are set on separate paths with quite different goals. Puss, becomes a presumed traitor to his village and everyone who trusted him, and Humpty Dumpty, becomes a bad egg, whose childhood dreams turn to thoughts of personal gain and revenge.

Not exactly the stuff of nursery rhymes, but that's the way Chris Miller wanted it: "Humpty Dumpty is very different from what you've heard before—I think what we do best is take things that you think you know and push the character in a new direction, while visually trying to create something that we've never seen before. That is what really excites us as animation filmmakers.”

Head of story Persichetti jokes, "Doesn't every cat have an egg for a brother? When we started working on these characters, we knew Puss needed someone to grow up with and be his foil. We thought, ‘Wow, what if he had an egg for a brother?' It started off as a little germ like that and just took root and spread.”

Miller says, "Humpty Alexander Dumpty is played by Zach Galifianakis, and I think Zach is pretty extraordinary in the role. I love his performance—he's incredibly funny, and his sharp extemporaneous wit is really appealing. My favorite thing about Zach in this role is the unexpected edge he brought to it. Humpty is a bit of a damaged character, sort of broken, and he's up to no good in a portion of the movie, but Zach brought this rationale for it: Humpty felt he was losing his best friend, which caused him to act a little funny in the head—but his heart was definitely in the right place.” Latifa Ouaou: "We knew Zach was hilarious, but what he brought to the character of Humpty Dumpty was a vulnerability and a childlike sweetness that really made the villain multi-dimensional. You empathize with him, and that was important to us—we didn't want him to be a black-and-white villain.”

For the comic performer, one of the challenges lay in the restrictions of the art of voicing a character. Galifianakis says, "I think one of the toughest things was trying to figure out a character with only a voice. When you start, they show you a mock-up of what the character looks like so far. And then, you have to find an attitude, and you're limited to just using your voice. Once the animators see you performing, like if I use my hands during a certain part, they'll throw those in. But you really have to dig for more expression in your voice than maybe an actor would in a regular, live-action role.” Ouaou recalls, "When we first started, we explained, ‘Yes, you're an egg,' and we told him that he works from the script, but that there would be changes, because we develop and produce the movie at the same time. We also wanted him to be free to work off-script. Zach really trusted Chris and just allowed Chris to guide him. The more familiar he got with the character, the more comfortable he felt in the material, the more he started bringing his own ideas to the sessions and improvising—which is always better for the actor, for us and for the

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