March 21, 2011

James McAvoy Breathes Life to "Gnomeo" in Shakespeare Tale Spoof


British actor James McAvoy (“Wanted,” “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”) explores his romantic side as he provides the voice of the love-struck Gnomeo in Touchstone Pictures’ new animated comedy “Gnomeo & Juliet” in which Shakespeare’s revered tale gets a comical, off-the-wall makeover.

Directed by Kelly Asbury (“Shrek 2”) and showcasing both classic and original songs by Elton John, “Gnomeo & Julliet” also features the voice of Emily Blunt (“The Devil Wears Prada”) as Juliet, who with Gnomeo have as many obstacles to overcome as their quasi namesakes when they are caught up in a feud between neighbors. But with plastic pink flamingos and thrilling lawnmower races in the mix, can this young couple find lasting happiness?


For the voice cast of the film, becoming a gnome isn’t a walk in the garden, so to speak. Each actor works individually, hitting the recording studio at various times during the process, and filmmakers tie it all together.

“At the beginning it was particularly hard, but then it got easier,” says James McAvoy. “Emily [Blunt] would come in to record and that informed my character. What we did informed the writing and then they’d come back with a script that was slightly evolved. Even though we’re not there together as actors, the implications of what we did individually now exist on screen. It’s really odd, but it’s fun.”

Gnomeo is the star gardener of the Blues—a gnome who knows how to make things happen. He’s the loyal son of Lady Bluebury and best friend to Benny. But being top gnome is not everything it’s cracked up to be. There are duties, responsibilities, expectations—and Tybalt, a Red who’d love to knock Gnomeo right out of his award-winning garden. But gnomes don’t leave their gardens…or do they? It’s during a rare outing that Gnomeo meets her—Juliet—a Red. And everything changes forever.

“He’s the perfect Gnomeo,” says director Kelly Asbury of McAvoy. “He has texture to his voice and he brings a real sincerity to the character.”

Though this might be challenging, considering said character is a gnome. “Gnomes—they’re quite cute,” says McAvoy of his garden persona. “Gnomeo does look like a classic garden gnome, but he’s got a little bit of something extra. It’s nice to imagine that all gnomes have something extra. They’ve all got something that they’re hiding from you and when the lights go out, it comes out.”

McAvoy previously starred alongside Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie in “Wanted,” directed by Timur Bekmambetov and based on the graphic novel by Mark Millar. He next stars in the upcoming X-Men prequel “X-Men First Class” and provides the voice of the character of Arthur in the Sony Pictures 3D Animation “Arthur Christmas.”

Opening soon across the Philippines in Digital 3D and regular format, “Gnomeo & Juliet” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.

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