Shooting is underway in New York City right now for director Raja Gosnell's adaptation of the classic cartoon series, "The Smurfs." A pretty wacky cast has assembled for it, including Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Jonathan Winters, Katy Perry, Alan Cumming, George Lopez... and legendary "Simpsons" voice actor Hank Azaria, who will play Smurf arch-nemesis and evil wizard Gargamel. MTV's Josh Horowitz spoke to Azaria last night on the red carpet for "Date Night," which hits theaters this Friday, and, noting the actor's freshly shaved head, asked if we're looking at Gargamel.
"This is partially Gargamel," he said, indicating his newly hairless scalp. "This is for Gargamel; it saves me about an hour in the [makeup] chair." Okay then. Partial Gargamel. So what more do we add to the costume to complete the package? What does Azaria's evil sorcerer look like?
"It looks like the cartoon: he's got hair around the sides [of his head], crazy eyebrows, ridiculous teeth and a big nose. It's insane." Presumably the signature black robe is also somewhere in there. Sure sounds like it.
Really though, the most pressing question for a guy like Azaria is how he's going to play Gargamel's voice. The cartoon character has a very distinctive way of speaking. And Azaria... his voice acting chops need no introduction. Just a list of names: Moe Szyslak, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Carl Carlson, Cletus Spuckler, Professor Frink, Dr. Nick Riviera, Lou, Snake, Kirk Van Houten, the Sea Captain, Superintendent Chalmers, Disco Stu, Duffman... the list goes on. So where will Gargamel fall?
"Should I..." Azaria started, clearly considering. Wanting to share. "I don't know if I should reveal that." Pleeeeease! "No, I'm gonna save it. I've gotta save that. There was a lot of discussion of what the voice should be." Drat. Good to know there was a lot of discussion though.
We already know from the press release that the story follows the Smurfs as they evade Gargamel's pursuit by fleeing Smurf Village and somehow being transported to New York City's Central Park. Azaria confirmed that -- "That is correct, yes. It is bi-location," he said. -- but he stayed mum on other plot details, including what Smurfs taste like. Or even if he gets to eat one or two, as the cartoon character always wanted to.
"I can't reveal that." He did confirm what we'd previously heard about Gargamel's pet cat Azrael, that the same technology used to animated Odie in the "Garfield" movie would be used to bring the evil feline to life.
"That's also still up for--" he started. "I think a combination of everything you can do to make a cat come to life will be done with this cat."
How excited are you for "The Smurfs"? Which "Simpsons" voices should Azaria channel when he brings Gargamel to life?