Interview With Jason Lee on Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwreckedby ModernMom Staff
Are you and your little ones excited to see the new Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked movie? We are!
ModernMom was lucky enough to get an early sneak peek at the new movie - rated G for all ages - and also interview some pretty amazing people from the cast and crew.
Jason Lee, also known as Dave (father to Alvin and Chipmunks) sat down to talk about daddy duties on and off screen. With an acting career that includes a wide range of different characters, Jason Lee’s work reveals his unique talent and ability. After having two children, we wondered how his little ones have influenced his decision on movies, TV and future roles.
“…having kids, certainly I like that something as iconic as the Chipmunks I get to give to them," Lee said. "And then, they have those movies for their kids as well. That's cool."
He continued, "I like that I've done all the Kevin Smith stuff. I've worked with guys like Cameron Crowe. I've done some dramatic stuff. I've done the kids stuff. My Name is Earl stuff was a huge part of my life. I just have a kind of big, all over the place résumé as a working actor. That's appealing to me."
Are your kids fans of the first two movies?
Jason Lee: Totally, yes. My daughter is only three, but she's catching on to the whole thing now from the first one on DVD.
Do they ever ask you where the chipmunks are, or do they have any issue with that illusion?
JL: When I was filming the first one [Alvin and the Chipmunks], my son very much thought they were real and so I tried to keep him away from the set. But, the couple of times that he did come to the set, I would have to say, "Oh, the chipmunks are on a break," or "They've gone back to the hotel or something to get massages."
When you did the first one [Alvin and the Chipmunks], did you envision that you'd end up doing three, or did you have any idea?
JL: No. No, because some movies work and some don't. You really never know. And then, the second one and then they said there would be a third one, and there probably will be a fourth one, I think.
Do people ask you to do the "Alvin?"
JL: They do, yes.
Do you oblige?
JL: Yes. It's strange, because it's just me yelling Alvin. It's certainly really adorable when the kids recognize me on the street and say, "Are you Dave?"
Did you grow up watching the Chipmunks?
And I'd buy their records as a kid, too. I remember buying Chipmunk Punk. That had Blondie on it. And what else did it have on it? It had, randomly, My Sharona, "M-M-My Sharona, duh, duh, duh, uh-uh." I remember saving up and buying that.
What about skating? Do you skateboard still?
JL: I still do that, yes.
You do? And is your son into skating, too?
JL: Yes, we skate together. It's very cool. He's really into that. It's cool to be able to give him that, one day play baseball at the park and then the next day we're skateboarding together. It's kind of a nice mix of things we get to do together because of that.
Do you think your three year old will be interesting in skating at all?
JL: She pushes around on her butt, which is really cute. She's got a little bit of that tomboy in her. It's the older brother thing, having an older brother. She’s very much into her dolls. But, if there's wrestling happening, she wants to get into that, too.
After interviewing the charming and candid Mr. Lee, we had a chance to learn more about what went on behind the scenes from director Mike Mitchell and creators Ross and Janice Bagdasarian.
“I really try to make movies that are for adults and kids,” Mitchell said. “And you can do it. Because it shouldn't be torturous to take your kid to a movie. We should all enjoy it. And my favorite thing is when we have a friends and family screening, like when a little girl is laughing at a joke and she looks up at her daddy and he's laughing, too. It's great to have laughs for both of them. But, when they laugh together that is magic to me.”
We couldn’t agree more! And it turns out that Mr. Mike Mitchell’s favorite part of the movie is the same as ours.
“… the dance numbers and the singing. It's really cool because it's a new thing to do a mashup of songs. Glee really opened the door to make it hip to do these mashups. And I don't think they've done that in a past film before, either. But, mashing up two songs, three songs together is, one, really fun, really cool.”
Alvin and the Chipmunks were brought to life by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. but their legacy is kept alive by his son, Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. and wife Janice. We asked the couple what they keep in mind when creating new stories with Alvin and the Chipmunks to ensure that Mr. Bagdasarian Senior’s original concept is kept intact.
"Yes, it was important to my dad that the Chipmunks not be mean spirited, because he was making the Alvin shows in 1961 at a time when, as he called it, there was a lot of hurt animation," said Bagdasarian. "The Warner Brothers stuff was the banging over the head or the whatever. And he said, "You know, I don't want to make a show like that. I want to do something that's musical and entertaining and that shows a kind of a family life, but it's not about being banged over the head with an anvil or whatever. I don't find that funny. So, we have definitely continued that. For us, it's really important that, while Alvin maybe misdirected at times-- he can't be mean spirited and he can't become bratty, because all of a sudden there is then not a character that you--.
"--Like," his wife Janice finished the sentence for him.
She went on, "And I think with Ross's dad [Ross Bagadasarian], when I heard either Alvin for President or the Chipmunk Song, you had this little being that was really pushing the envelope, but you really liked him and you liked Dave. And so, the essence of that is still the same. We struggle always to make sure that Alvin [voiced by Justin Long] doesn't cross over that line of being bratty. And sometimes it slips in a little, but it's important that he never is aware of the consequences. He goes into something thinking that everything's going to be fine, and then later goes, "Oops. That wasn't a good idea. So, that's the essence of what his father did with Alvin and Dave."
Not only did ModernMom talk to some of the humans involved in putting the film together, but we had a chance to chat with the stars themselves. Check out the video below to see our super-exclusive interview with some very special furry friends:
Wondering whether the Chipmunks are ever going to grow up? In the words of the creators, "never."
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked hits theaters this Friday, December 16!