Josh Gad had initial reservations about The Angry Birds Movie, in part because of a certain frosty feature that had him as a snowman named Olaf. “There were two words that terrified me, angry and birds,” he explains. “I [said] to myself, I don’t need to be following up Frozen, which has obviously taken on a life of its own, by doing an animated movie based on a mobile app game.” That, of course, didn’t last.
With some persuasion from producer John Cohen, Gad boarded the action-comedy directed by veteran animators Clay Kaytis (Frozen) and Fergal Reilly (Hotel Transylvania) from a script by Jon Vitti (The Simpsons). His role? A fast-paced, mischievous yellow bird named Chuck, who works with crotchety hero Red (Jason Sudeikis) and explosive chum Bomb (Danny McBride) to recover their avian community’s eggs from the greedy green pigs who stole them.
The character himself was a big draw as he’s entirely different from the cheery, chipper, and (literally) chilly predecessor on Gad’s resume. “What I loved about Olaf was he has this youthful, innocent, naiveté about him that was so fun to play with,” Gad says. “If I was going to do animation again, I wanted to do a 180 from that, and Chuck is the complete opposite of Olaf in terms of the way he sees life.”
The question now being, how exactly does Chuck see life? Through a somewhat pessimistic lens. “There’s much more of a cynical outlook,” Gad says of his feathered friend, whom he describes as a literal and metaphorical speed demon. (So Chuck doesn’t like warm hugs?) “He’s always one step ahead of himself and I loved that attitude. I loved to be able to play with that perspective on life.”
He may have loved it, but the role came with its challenges. “By take number four I would completely lose my voice because [I spoke] so high and fast,” he says, going so far as to need physical therapy after sessions. He adds, jokingly, “I would have to put an IV of tea into my veins to get through the rest of the session.”
Gad, Sudeikis, and McBride are part of an all-star comedic cast that also includes Peter Dinklage, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Kate McKinnon, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Ike Barinholtz, Tituss Burgess, Blake Shelton, and the recently announced Charli XCX and Sean Penn. In other fresh news, a song from Demi Lovato will be featured on the soundtrack.
Catch it all when The Angry Birds Movie flies into theaters on May 20, and head here for more of EW’s coverage of the feathery flick.