Josh Gad plays a speedy, yellow bird in The Angry Birds Movie, the animated action-comedy adapted from the popular mobile game that reveals the lead up to the battle between the famed, flightless birds and the green pigs who ran off with their eggs. The actor — who stars alongside Jason Sudeikis as cranky, avian hero Red and Danny McBride as the literally explosive, feathery friend Bomb — previously told EW that his character “is the complete opposite of [Frozen’s] Olaf.” In advance of the film taking flight on Friday, Gad expands on Chuck’s pessimistic outlook, mischievous side, and what makes him emotional. (Plus, how the film relates to Three Men and a Baby and Trainwreck.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: A lot of Chuck’s laughs comes from him being a speed demon and fast talker. Where did you find the humor in your character?
JOSH GAD: A friend who I grew up with — one of my best friends, David — in elementary school we called him “Motormouth.” In hindsight, that was a very mean thing to say and to anybody reading this at home, don’t do that to your close friends; that’s what we call bullying in the 21st century. He was this guy whose mouth couldn’t keep up with his brain and it had this non-stop motor to it, so that inspired my take on the character and the out of control vocal tendencies that he has. It’s an homage, if you will.
There’s a clip called “Speeding Ticket” (see it, below) that shows how Chuck ended up in anger management, and it looks like he’s mischievous…
That’s partly what attracted me to him. He has this mischievous side, but he’s also got this pessimism that he allows to take over his actions. Because he is so damn fast, it’s like a superpower, almost like Quicksilver in X-Men. He can get away with anything so he takes advantage of that, and if somebody wrongs him, a la this cop who gives him a speeding ticket, he’ll make him pay without even realizing that he’s paid for it. That quality is something that immediately drew me in and as I said before, coming off of Olaf I really wanted an opportunity to play a character that’s completely on the other end of the spectrum. [Chuck] definitely offered that.
The film is a comedy, but there’s a lot of emotional elements to it as well. What’s the emotional side to Chuck like?
[The film is] a bromance. It’s about these three friends — Chuck, Bomb, and Red — who discover that as their world is quite literally falling apart they need to stop running away from [their anger, which] has always terrified them or has been a negative in their lives, and embrace it and find the best version of it in each other. It transforms into passion, and when they realize that they can use it for the benefit of their colony, they wind up teaming up to save the day, or maybe not. I don’t want to spoil the movie for anybody, so I’m not going to tell you what happens. You may find that the entire colony is lost and all the eggs are destroyed. I don’t know. Anything can happen. There’s a 50/50 chance.
Can you expand on the dynamic between Chuck, Bomb, and Red? They’re in anger management together, but how do these guys get along, and how would you characterize each of them?
It’s like a modern day version of the Three Men and a Baby cast. The baby in this case is the eggs. I’m Tom Selleck; actually no, that’s not true. I would like to be Tom Selleck, [but] I think, sadly, I’m Steve Guttenberg in this equation. I just had a realization that I’m the Steve Guttenberg of this trio, and that’s ok! The guy had quite a career, but I think Red would be Tom Selleck and Bomb would be Ted Danson — and this analogy is falling apart on itself right now as I hear myself say it.
Is there a scene, line, or moment that you feel really gets to Chuck’s core?
It’s that introductory scene [the “Speeding Ticket” clip, seen above] because within 45 seconds you get everything that you need to get from his actions. He’s introduced to us as somebody who is this speed demon, who absolutely has this mischievous twinkle in his eye and uses it to the best of his abilities to wreak havoc on others. During the course of the movie he learns a different way to channel that energy, but that’s Chuck at his heart.
Anything else on your mind, in terms your character or the broader film?
I think what makes the movie work so well is it is an origin story to one of the great mobile games of all time and something that pays off any questions that audiences have ever had going into the film, but it’s so much more than that in its subversive approach to the material. It’s undeniably going to be one of the funnier movies of the summer, and also I can’t give enough credit to the animators. The thing that blew me away from day one is this movie has no business being as gorgeous as it is, and it’s a testament to the hard work and energy that all of these guys have put into it. I’m really thrilled with the results.
On the subject of the film’s humor, director Fergal Reilly, who partnered with Clay Kaytis, said that the film “operates on the sophistication of any Judd Apatow comedy.” Would you agree with that, or how would you describe the humor?
I think that’s definitely a fair assessment of it. It definitely has, at least in the last cut I saw, fewer F-bombs, but it’s got other bombs. It’s got a literal Bomb, which Judd doesn’t have, thank you very much. Yes, it’s the Trainwreck of avian movies; if Amy Schumer were a bird, this would be the result. We give you Judd Apatow’s Angry Birds.