|By Fred Topel
In Theaters Friday
I don’t know how hot you think metal robots are, but the film Robots does distinguish between genders. Girl robots have pig tails and curves, and although conception is achieved by physically assembling parts, the character all make references to boys and girls. So, here’s a profile of two of the lovely ladies of Robots
Jennifer Coolidge, perhaps best known as the MILF in the American Pie movies, plays the caretaker to a gang of outcast robots who befriend our hero, Rodney Copperbottom. She is a large assed robot who joins in on the film’s requisite fart joke. Coolidge claimed she made her own fart noises in the recording studio.
“I did mine with my mouth,” Coolidge said of her technique. “There are all these fart machines nowadays, and I really hope they didn’t use those. I don’t think they sound that real.”
The character of Aunt Fanny (yes, that’s really her name), was Coolidge’s favorite when she saw the choices available. “I was really hoping that I was really going to have the part, because I thought she was the coolest looking woman. I was even hoping they would go bigger. But in that first audition you don’t really know if you have the job, because they said, ‘We’d like to hear some voices,’ so I was doing a bunch of different voices for them, and some of them were kind of matronly, and I kept staring at the back of her and thinking, ‘What would a big, soft ass sound like if it spoke?’ And then I came up with more of a sexier [voice]. I mean, I don’t think her ass is soft, it’s probably a very hard metal ass. And they went for it, they went for the softer, sexier [voice].”
Though costar Robin Williams is known for his wild improvisational sessions, and reportedly provided 25 hours of vocal tracks, Coolidge stuck to the script. “They let me put a bunch of farts in and stuff like that, but because the script was pretty locked in on this, it wasn’t like, ‘Do what you think is funny.’ It wasn’t one of those jobs.”
Coolidge relishes the chance to play off the wall supporting characters like Aunt Fanny. “If someone handed me the script of The Incredibles, I’m not the one that wants the Holly Hunter role, I want to be the Edith Head role, I want to be the weirder character. I never want to be the wife in a movie, I always want to be the retarded neighbor.”
Still, MILF is a stigma she is happy to have. “It is, because it’s the only normal role I’ve ever had. Well, semi-normal, I was horny woman, but still normal. Most of the films I do I’m kind of a weird lady. I’ll take MILF.”
Now a sitcom star as well with a recurring role on Joey, Coolidge is happy to flex her comedy muscles. “The only thing that I would have a really hard time with - I don’t have problems with any of the comedy stuff, for some reason comedy is sort of my thing - my biggest fear would be to be on ER, and have like those monologues that Noah Wyle has to deliver with the huge terms and that would be my demise.”
The Joey gig is almost as flexible as animation voice work. “I haven’t heard from them in three weeks, but I’ll do like five in a row for them, and then have a couple of weeks off, and then do another. They don’t really tell you what the story lines are or anything, they just call me up and say, ‘You’re working this week.’ And sometimes I’m only in one or two scenes on the show, and so it ends up being a really cush job, because I’ll go in at 10 and leave at 11. The pay is pretty good. I would show up weekly [if they asked]. Sometimes I do, two weeks ago I did five episodes in a row, so it felt like a weekly gig.”
Back to Robots, Amanda Bynes plays Piper Pinwheeler, the only girl in the gang of Aunt Fanny’s robots. Bynes had done a little bit of voice work for television, but Robots is her first animated feature film.
“I actually did a voice for the show Rugrats and, as a kid, that was one of my favorite shows,” Bynes said. “I’m young so that was special, but this is the first feature film that I was offered and it was such a great script that I couldn’t pass it up because I didn’t want to do an VO just to be in a cartoon. It’s not just for kids, it’s a family and adult movie. I just saw it with my friends and it’s so cool cause I’m not really in a lot of it so I can actually say I’m seeing it from a different standpoint and I really enjoyed it.”
Bynes saw artists’ conceptions of her characters before she began, and then watched as the computer animation grew to resemble her. “Before I started they actually had a rough image of what it was going to be, but once I got the part and I started doing it, they gave the character green eyes because I have green eyes and they started saw how I move and they added that to the character.”
Though she has a talent for putting on odd voices, Robots directors wanted Bynes’ natural speech for Penny. “I definitely said, ‘I can change my voice, I can try to do an accent.’ And they were like, ‘No. We want kids to know it’s you.’”
Bynes is working on her third season of What I Like About You on The WB and making movies during her hiatuses, and she loves that lifestyle. “I really like the schedule. I love doing the show. It’s such a great way to learn and practice and it’s fun. My life is normal for me just because it’s my life but in comparison to other people, I always loved to draw and love hang out with my friends. I think I’m pretty normal. I don’t think of myself as any better than anybody, it’s just my job. And I think because there’s so much publicity and press and everything, people think that you are royalty or whatever. But we’re not. And I think some actors think they are, but there’s also people at the office that think they are the hot you-know-what. It just depends on who you are and I’m just myself.”
And being young in Hollywood has not tempted Bynes to join the party scene. “I like to have fun and let loose just like anyone else but I’m not a big club person and I like to go out, but I don’t really want to be photographed doing it. I want to be known for the work I’ve done, as opposed to where I go on Saturday nights.”
Robots opens Friday, March 11.