You’ve already heard Dr. Seuss’s legendary creature The Lorax speak in commercials for the new movie and even TV promos for Mazda. It is the distinct voice of legendary actor Danny DeVito. Other countries will get to enjoy the unique voice of DeVito speaking their native tongues too, as the filmmakers decided to have DeVito voice the Spanish, Italian, German and Russian editions of The Lorax too.
"This is the thing,” DeVito said. “I don't speak any of those languages. I speak a tiny bit of Italian, but I did it all with coaches and phonetically and it was a lot of work. We did the whole thing in Spanish and Castilian. Spain and Mexico, two different things. There's about 40 words in Spain that are different. They say with the [lisp] but they don't say ‘thneed,’ they say something else. Anyway what'd I do is tackle one at a time.”
For each language DeVito had to record, the filmmakers brought in native speakers to help him. “So I had two Italians with me, one on either side who spoke English and Italian. And then I had a technician who was in the back working because sometimes the lines were very long in The Lorax when I'm speaking and there was no way for me, like say in German or Russian, to get through that entire line without messing up some intonation. I really wanted to capture the performance and I didn't want people to think I had an accent.”
Now Devito is raising the bar for other actors. Mike Myers may have to do the Romanian version of Shrek. “Too bad for them. It's a fun thing and it's time consuming. I thought it was gonna be like a couple days. I'll do German in a couple days. Right! Took me more like a week. I wanted to get it absolutely right. There's about 90 lines of mine in the movie and sometimes you can't break them up. Like if I could do a line like if you say to me ‘como esta usted?’ that's one thing or in Italian if you say ‘una taza de cafe,’ that means a cup of coffee, it's easy. But if you're saying something like ‘Didn't you see me come out of that stump with all the lightning and the thunder and the this and the that?’ and ‘Did you chop down that tree? I wanna know!’ and he just goes on. Well I didn't think I was gonna be doing this when I said those lines back then and didn't spit in the middle. So it takes a while to make it right, but I trusted all the people in Mexico and all the people in Spain and the other countries because we did do retakes. I got feedback from them.”
Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax opens Friday in March 2 in the United States.