Filmmaker Tom McGrath on Babies, Puppies, Families and his Highly Original New Film THE BOSS BABY
He’s a newborn who wears a suit and tie, talks like an adult and threatens to make life unbearable for his big brother, Tim.
He is THE BOSS BABY.
From DreamWorks Animation, this hilarious, heartfelt and ingenious new film revolves around an infant who is not quite the sweet, gurgling angel his parents think he is. Boss Baby (voiced by Alec Baldwin) looks adorable in his crib, but he is actually quite grown up and well acquainted with the business world. This is no ordinary baby; he is on an important assignment! Tim discovers that the apparently cherubic child is working for an organization tackling a big problem: babies are no longer getting all the love and attention. They are losing out to puppies … and that has to change! Told from the perspective of Tim (a decidedly unreliable narrator), THE BOSS BABY was directed by Tom McGrath (MADAGASCAR). The film was inspired by the book of the same name by Marla Frazee.
The arrival of a baby may be a happy event for the Templetons, but not everyone in the family is celebrating. Seven-year-old Tim had been used to getting all the attention from his parents (voiced by Lisa Kudrow and Jimmy Kimmel),but now there’s someone else competing for their affection! What’s worse, he finds out that his new brother, Boss Baby (voiced by Alec Baldwin), who wears a suit and has a deep, grown-up voice, intends to make life very miserable for him. Soon Boss Baby and his big brother are waging war. Tim is desperately trying to prove to his parents that the new arrival is not who he appears to be. Boss Baby is trying to stop him. Tim discovers that the annoying infant works for a company called Baby Corp. (run by baby executives). He has come to the Templetons on a mission to halt a scheme run by PuppyCo, which looks set to deprive babies of love. Baby Corp. claims that puppies are already getting more than their fair share of love, which means babies are missing out. Big Time! The imminent arrival of a new, ultra-cute breed of puppy is even worse news for babies. Boss Baby enlists his big brother in a bid to infiltrate PuppyCo and get the love back.
From DreamWorks Animation, the film is narrated by Tobey Maguire (as older Tim). With Steve Buscemi as the bad guy, Francis E. Francis, THE BOSS BABY is funny, warm-hearted and highly entertaining.
Early in his career, Tom McGrath worked in story and concept design for films including CATS & DOGS and HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS. He worked as an animator and story artist on SPACE JAM and COOL WORLD. At DreamWorks Animation, McGrath directed the runaway success, MADAGASCAR, and voiced the lead penguin, Skipper, going on to direct MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA and MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED. McGrath also directed the hit film, MEGAMIND. The multi-talented McGrath starred in and executive produced PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR. He voiced Skipper for the PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR TV show and for the short films; THE MADAGASCAR PENGUINS IN A CHRISTMAS CAPER, MERRY MADAGASCAR and MADLY MADAGASCAR.
Tom McGrath sat down for the following interview with .
What interested you about this story?
It was inspired by Marla Frazee’s popular children’s book, ‘The Boss Baby’. When I saw the book, I thought it was great and loved the idea of a little baby in a suit. I think the story is a great metaphor for what happens when a new baby comes into a family. The baby rules the house and is a very demanding boss! It is a universal idea. Michael McCullers, who wrote the screenplay for the film, also had a similar take on the book. So we started brainstorming about the story and put it into a much larger universe, told from the point of view of a seven-year-old.
What can you reveal about the premise of the story?
The new baby arrives at Tim’s home and Tim is the only one who sees that there is something odd about this kid. Tim tries to prove to his parents that the baby can talk and that eventually forces Boss Baby to explain to Tim why he is there. He tells Tim he comes from a company called Baby Corp. that distributes babies around the world. They are in a crisis because they have found that babies have been losing out on family love to puppies because puppies are so adorable. Any child with a younger baby brother or sister will relate to this story. Older siblings (like Tim in the film) have the worst kind of fear that they are going to be sidelined because there is only so much love to go around. They think it is a finite resource.
Alec Baldwin hilariously voices Boss Baby. What gave you the idea to cast him?
Our first choice was always Alec Baldwin. I had worked with him previously on MADAGASCAR 2. He has such a great range in his voice and he can play comedy and drama really well. Early on I took a baby from MEGAMIND and did a test with a line of Alec Baldwin’s voice from GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (the 1992 movie) and everyone laughed. The quick pitch was this: Alec Baldwin playing a baby in a suit, being a terror to his older brother! Luckily, Alec came on board so we were off to a good start. Alec’s comedic chops are so sharp and he could also deliver the drama; he has been a joy to work with.
Can you discuss the other cast members?
It is a very small ensemble cast, and we have a real kid voicing Tim, Miles Bakshi, who did such a good job. He is the grandson of Ralph Bakshi, a great animator who did FRITZ THE CAT. Ralph gave me my first job on COOL WORLD back in the 90s and I know him quite well.
What about the other main cast members?
What is interesting in the casting process is listening to people’s voices without looking at their faces. You try to find a unique voice. We have Jimmy Kimmel (the TV host and comedian) as Tim’s dad. Jimmy is so interesting and warm and charming. We thought: ‘he would be a great dad!’ He came in and voiced the father and he did a tremendous job. For Tim’s mother, it was also about finding warmth and charm and the idea of Lisa Kudrow came to us because she has such a unique quality to her voice. She also has a very quick wit. Then to find a villain, we wanted someone to play off Alec. There was a 30 ROCK episode with Steve Buscemi and Alec. Their voices are so different and they play off each other really well so we asked Steve Buscemi if he would play the part of Francis E. Francis and he is great… he is really funny.
You worked with the legendary composer, Hans Zimmer; what does he bring to the film?
Well, I have been fortunate to work with Hans Zimmer on five movies. Hans is a master at creating great themes for the characters and pulling the movie together by using these themes in the storytelling. He brings sophistication and a heart that compliments the movie.
What can families look forward to?
Kids will enjoy the film and I think because we see the point of view of the parents there is plenty of comedy for adults too. The film has a strong heart and the goal of the movie is to make people cry because it will resonate so much with them. Hopefully, everyone will feel something because everyone comes from a family and babies are everywhere! Like music, they transcend international boundaries. Hopefully, the relationship in the film between Tim and Boss Baby will strike a chord whether you are a parent wanting your children to love each other, or whether you have a sibling. We hope that the film resonates with the human experience.
THE BOSS BABY ARRIVES IN CINEMAS IN APRIL 2017