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About The Production
From Page to Screen: The Lorax Returns

" Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care. Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air. Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack. Then the Lorax and all of his friends may come back." -The Once-ler in "The Lorax"

The relationship Meledandri built with Audrey Geisel on Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! led to the decision to make Dr. Seuss' The Lorax. Meledandri gives some background: "The genesis of the decision to do The Lorax as the follow-up to Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! actually came from Audrey Geisel. We had talked about wanting to do another film together, and she came to me and said: 'This is the one that I want to do.' She explained that it had been Ted Geisel's favorite book, and it had been dedicated to her. She felt this underlying love for the book, as well as a relevance to what the story was about."

The filmmaker gave great thought to the weight and seriousness of adapting a book with such an important legacy and message. He explains: "I sat with the book for quite some time and shared it with my partners at Illumination. With every Seuss property, it is imperative to find a way to tell the story in a way that honors the underlying work he created. It took us about six months to determine whether or not we could successfully do that."

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax is the fourth film that Meledandri has crafted with screenwriters/executive producers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio. The writing duo had worked with him on Universal's Despicable Me and Hop, but their first project with Meledandri was Fox's Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!. They had a familiarity and understanding of the world of Seuss and how to successfully translate it to the big screen.

While the responsibility of honoring such a talented artist is vast, so was the opportunity to create a colorful and imaginative filmic world. Meledandri says: "Dr. Seuss had one of the richest imaginations of anybody living and working in the 20th century. His worlds have a sense of whimsy and playfulness, and his characters are immediately appealing. He wrote these delightful stories, but inside them are ideas and themes that are absolutely timeless."

Back on board for another Illumination production was Despicable Me's blockbuster director, Oscar® nominee Chris Renaud. When asked about the influence of Dr. Seuss in his life, Renaud responds: "He has been part of my life since I was a child, and his stories, especially 'The Lorax,' are ones that that I've passed on to my own kids. He teaches us to be aware of a world that is bigger than ourselves and that each individual can make a difference. That's something that sticks with you. If we retain these lessons as children, you carry them through your life."

"The Lorax" is a beloved and established property that serves as a touchstone for many young readers. To craft a feature production that would draw audiences further into its story, the team would need to flesh out the book's characters and create a complementary world. They didn't set out to rewrite the story, rather to fill in what happened before the book began and after it ended.

Filling in these gaps was no small challenge. Reflects the director: "You want to stay true to the material and honor it, but you must expand it and make it into something that works in a 90-minute movie, something very different from a children's book. You have to decide how to not only take these iconic images and words and turn them into a movie, but how to expand that book's world." Fortunately, Seuss had given them the ideal jumping off point. "When the Once-ler throws the seed to Ted, it seemed like a perfect place to expand and figure out what that part of the world would be like…in addition to telling the book's tale of the Lorax and the Once-ler in the past."

Because "The Lorax" is so cherished, attention to detail for this adaptation was paramount. Shares Renaud: "We know what the Lorax looks like. We have to adapt him to make him a three-dimensional character, but we had the basic structure, and we've expanded upon that." For additional delineation, the director took Daurio and Paul's imagined world of Thneedville and found visual inspiration from the minutest of details of the town that were shown in the book. He says, "There's a little drawing of Ted's town in the corner of the first page of the book. We used this as our inspiration for Thneedville."

The Once-ler and the Lorax are surrounded by Bar-ba-loots in Truffula Valley.

Truffula Valley to Thneedville: Who's Who in Seuss' World?

" He was shortish. And oldish. And brownish. And mossy. And he spoke with a voice that was sharpish and bossy." -The Once-ler in "The Lorax"

From giant, furry peanuts and ambitious entrepreneurs to a wide-eyed 12-year-old and the girl of his dreams, the world of Truffula Valley and Thneedville is populated with people and creatures of every stripe. Below is a guide to who is who and what is what.

* The Lorax (Danny DeVito) is the guardian of the forest and speaks for the trees. He is a short, loud and bossy curmudgeon (inside a cute, fluffy creature). The Lorax's job as guardian is put to the test when the Once-ler chops down a Truffula Tree and threatens to chop down more to further his lofty business plan. The Lorax tries to force the Once-ler out of Truffula Valley and warns the Once-ler that if he disturbs nature, nature will push back.

* We first meet the Once-ler (Ed Helms) as an old and bitter hermit who lives in a creaky old shack (the Lerkim) outside of Thneedville. He is the only one who can tell young Ted about the Lorax, real trees and what happened to them. We flash back to the Once-ler as a young man, who takes his donkey, Melvin, and moves to Truffula Valley in hopes of making his fortune. After an unexpected confrontation with the Lorax, the Once-ler promises that he won't chop down any more trees. But when temptations of greed and success get the better of him, he breaks his promise, eventually chopping down every last one. The old Once-ler explains to Ted that there once were real trees everywhere, until he destroyed them to make Thneeds (a revolutionary product with a million uses).

* Ted Wiggins (Zac Efron) is a passionate young kid who searches for a living tree, which will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams, Audrey. To find one, he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world. Ted realizes that pleasing Audrey and the fate of Thneedville both rest on his quest to find a tree.

* Audrey (Taylor Swift) is Ted's neighbor who dreams of seeing a real tree. She is a free spirit who has a deep passion for the world around her and paints an amazing mural of the Truffula forest, a place she has never seen. She plays along when Ted "accidentally" loses toys in her back yard and is amused by him, as he has an obvious crush on her.

* Aloysius O'Hare (Rob Riggle) is larger-than-life, but only a thigh-high comedic villain. O'Hare became rich by selling fresh air to the people of Thneedville. His factories pollute the air, which helps his business boom. O'Hare runs his empire from a giant blimp hovering over Thneedville, and is always flanked by his enormous thugs, Mooney and McGurk. He has everything to lose if trees are restored to town and fresh air becomes free once again.

* Despite her age, Grammy Norma (Betty White) is full of life and energy. She remembers a time when the world was full of tre

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