"Whaaaaaat?"

By Maureen Lee Lenker
June 11, 2021 at 04:41 PM EDT
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Poking fun at yourself can be a hare-y situation, but in Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, James Corden was more than willing to be the cotton-tailed butt of a joke.

In the film, out June 11, Peter is told by another animal that his voice is annoying, and he rebuts that it isn't annoying and then stretches out the gag with a protected, "Whaaaaat?!" which becomes a running joke.

Corden reveals he and director Will Gluck devised the tongue-in-cheek moment in response to a review of the first 2018 film. "A British reviewer, I think, said, that it was 'my annoying voice,'" Corden tells EW. "Up until that point, I just thought my voice was, if anything, painfully ordinary. So, we just thought it'd be really funny for Peter to go, 'Is it annoying? Is it?', and it was a fun thing to play with."

James Corden, Peter Rabbit 2
Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images; Sony Pictures

Gluck credits the joke as his favorite moment in the film that he discovered in the booth with Corden. "The sense of humor about James' voice when he says, 'Whaaat?'" he adds. "That was really fun that James was on board with that, and we had a lot of fun with what the word should be and we brought it back, and we spent a lot of time with him doing that."

Corden says with various ad-libs and different takes on scenes, he recorded the film somewhere between 25 to 30 times total. And while Gluck cites those moments of play in the sound-booth as the best parts of the process, he admits it didn't win him any points with his visual effects team. "If we come up with something we think is good that's different from what we're supposed to be doing, I have to make a call down to the effects artists," he notes. "They loved the ADR sessions, but they were also very scared every time we finished one."

Peter Rabbit 2 follows Peter and his pals further afield this go-round, venturing in to the big city in Gloucester and getting roped into an elaborate farmer's market heist. "I have been obsessed with farmer's markets for a long time," says Gluck of his concept for the film. "It's that great dichotomy of really fresh food and lavender soap. I've always thought that's a weird combination. And if you're rabbits, what is your bank heist? It's the farmer's market."

While Corden is happily doing double duty as the Beatrix Potter creation and host of The Late Late Show on CBS, he did ponder how his fluffy alter ego would fare in late night. "He'd sound similar to me," Corden quips of Peter taking the host chair. "I think he'd be quite good at it actually. I'm sure at some point the entire show would get derailed, but he wouldn't be trying to. He'd be trying to do something else and cutting a corner somehow, and the whole thing would just descend into a disaster."

And as for Peter's go-to jams on Carpool Karaoke? "We'd just sing a lot of Vampire Weekend," says Corden. "That's Peter's jam."

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