Po (Jack Black) is joined by a group on bunnies during a wild rickshaw chase in DreamWorks Animation's KUNG FU PANDA 2. Photo credit: Courtesy of DreamWorks Animation. KUNG FU PANDA 2 ™ & © 2010 DreamWorks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved.
- Jack Black
- Angelina Jolie
- Dustin Hoffman
- Gary Oldman
- Jackie Chan
- Seth Rogen
- Lucy Liu
- David Cross
- James Hong
- Michelle Yeoh
- Danny R. McBride
- Victor Garber
- Dennis Haysbert
- Jean-Claude Van Damme
* Most external filmography links go to The Internet Movie Database.Home/Social Media Links
Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)
Also Known As: The Kaboom of Doom, Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom, Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom
Opened: 05/26/2011 Wide
|AMC Empire 25||05/26/2011 - 07/28/2011||64 days|
|AMC Deer Valley||05/26/2011 - 07/14/2011||50 days|
|AMC Loews Meth...||05/26/2011 - 07/14/2011||50 days|
|Showcase Cinem...||05/26/2011 - 07/07/2011||43 days|
|Columbia Park ...||05/26/2011 - 06/30/2011||36 days|
|Embassy Cinema||05/26/2011 - 06/23/2011||29 days|
|Arclight/Holly...||05/26/2011 - 06/16/2011||22 days|
|Claremont 5||05/26/2011 - 06/09/2011||15 days|
|Fallbrook 7||05/26/2011 - 06/09/2011||15 days|
|Culver Plaza T...||07/01/2011 - 08/04/2011||35 days|
|AMC Loews Meth...||09/02/2011 - 09/08/2011||7 days|
|AMC Empire 25||09/02/2011 - 09/08/2011||7 days|
|AMC Deer Valley||09/02/2011 - 09/08/2011||7 days|
Trailer: Click for trailer
Rated: PG for sequences of martial arts action and mild violence.
In KUNG FU PANDA 2, Po is now living his dream as The Dragon Warrior, protecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five. But Po's new life of awesomeness is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. Po must look to his past and uncover the secrets of his mysterious origins; only then will he be able to unlock the strength he needs to succeed.
From DreamWorks Animation--the studio that brought you "How to Train Your Dragon," "Shrek," and the Academy Award®- and Golden Globe-nominated "Kung Fu Panda"--comes the latest adventures of one of the most unlikely heroes ever to transition from noodle shop employee to kung fu master.
In "Kung Fu Panda 2" Po (JACK BLACK) is now living his dream as The Dragon Warrior, protecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five: Tigress (ANGELINA JOLIE); Monkey (JACKIE CHAN); Mantis (SETH ROGEN); Viper (LUCY LIU); and Crane (DAVID CROSS). Also returning is DUSTIN HOFFMAN as the kung fu guru and Po's mentor, Master Shifu, and JAMES HONG as Mr. Ping, Po's father and owner of the most popular noodle shop in the village.
Po's new life of awesomeness is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, Lord Shen (GARY OLDMAN), who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. Po must look to his past and uncover the secrets of his mysterious origins--only then will he be able to unlock the strength he needs to succeed.
Additional new cast members include MICHELLE YEOH as the Soothsayer in service to Lord Shen, whose visions of the future play a key role in the destiny to come; DANNY MCBRIDE as Shen's minion, the Wolf Boss; and DENNIS HAYSBERT as Master Storming Ox. The cast also features action superstar JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME as Master Croc and VICTOR GARBER as Master Thundering Rhino.
The film is directed by JENNIFER YUH NELSON. It is produced by MELISSA COBB. The co-producers are JONATHAN AIBEL, GLENN BERGER and SUZANNE BUIRGY. It is written by JONATHAN AIBEL & GLENN BERGER. The music is by HANS ZIMMER and JOHN POWELL. This film has been rated PG for sequences of martial arts action and mild violence by the MPAA.
THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE PANDA SHINES BRIGHTER
Jennifer Yuh Nelson, the director of "Kung Fu Panda 2," had three different titles on first "Kung Fu Panda" -- Head of Story, Actions Sequences Supervisor and Dream Sequence Director. And just as Po followed his path to becoming the Dragon Warrior, Nelson had her own journey.
States producer Melissa Cobb, "Jen was there from the beginning, and was really instrumental in helping to shape the story. If there is anyone who knows this material, these characters and this world, it is Jen. Her becoming the director of 'Kung Fu Panda 2' was the most natural progression imaginable."
Says director Jennifer Yuh Nelson, "I grew up with Hong Kong action movies, and I brought that sensibility as Head of Story on 'Kung Fu Panda.' I was pretty gung ho for all of us to be in that mindset, and I continued that push on this film. I think one of the keys is that we're all conversant in that vernacular now. And in working on 'Kung Fu Panda 2,' that shared experience has come with us, and it informs the story we are telling and the manner in which it is told. Our goal was to take 'Kung Fu Panda' and Po to the next level."
Just as Po has become a better warrior, his newest adventure reflects his deeper immersion into the world of kung fu. Per Nelson: "This film follows more in the tradition of martial arts movies--there are often questions that arise about a newly anointed hero's past and there are those who seek to challenge his authority.
"Since the release of 'Kung Fu Panda', there has been one burning question that people are desperate to answer. The question that defies explanation is: Why is Po's dad a goose? For Po, the Dragon Warrior, it was logical for him to finally realize his father is not his biological father and to seek his origin. While doing so, he learns his past is tied to Lord Shen. The peacock's challenge is not random, it is the working of fate--something that also figures prominently in martial arts films. And it is only when he learns the truth about who he is that Po is able to confront Shen and his army."
"In the first film," continues Nelson, "we learned that heroes come in all shapes and sizes as Po fulfilled his destiny and became the Dragon Warrior. In the sequel, we learn that fate leads us to our destiny -- bringing people into our lives that protect us and those that challenge us...allowing us to realize our full potential."
Po's story began in the summer of 2008, when DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda" hit motion picture screens around the globe. The tale of the day dreaming noodle maker with aspirations of kung fu greatness found a widespread audience who happily accompanied Po on his journey from kung fu super fan to kung fu hero. The action-packed family comedy grossed more than $633 million worldwide, was nominated for the Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature Film and took home 10 Annie Awards (the animation industry's highest honor).
States producer Cobb, "With the first film, we really did set out to make an animated movie that people could enjoy with their families for years to come. We were intent on making a film that felt timeless, while being respectful to the kung fu action genre. We knew when we made the first film that we created a character with a lot of depth and levels of story we weren't able to touch on. What we have in the sequel is the evolution of a hero--which isn't a straight path, or a standard arc. And evolution takes time, so we're committed to going with Po on his journey. When 'Kung Fu Panda 2' started to take shape, it was an organic extension of the story that we began."
'Kung Fu Panda' screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger were thrilled to return to continue Po's story. Aibel sums up the thoughts and feelings of the creative teams when he offers, "Working on the first, it was fantastic, a giant collaboration. I think the best thing we can say about the group of people working on the first movie is that they all wanted to be a part of the second movie. That's pretty rare in Hollywood...I mean, the heads of nearly every department on this movie were in the same job on the first movie. People say once they started working for Po, they didn't want to leave."
"I think that also means," Aibel continues, "that a lot of our time was spent on the first movie laying the groundwork for the environment and building the characters and now, a lot of that creative energy was freed up to push the limits and see how much more fun we could have--this meant bigger action sequences, deeper character work, a larger look at this amazing world."
Joining those already mentioned, among the ranks of film artisans returning to "Kung Fu Panda 2" are: production designer Raymond Zibach; head of character animation Dan Wagner; editor Clare Knight; art director Tang Kheng Heng; composers John Powell and Hans Zimmer and supervising animator, kung fu choreographer and storyboard artist Rodolphe Guenoden, among others.
MYSTERIES OF THE DRAGON WARRIOR REVEALED
Screenwriters Aibel and Berger had joined filmmakers on the first film to focus the story--with the whole of a fictitious ancient China and a pantheon of kung fu characters to choose from, early work on the screenplay had produced an almost embarrassing amount of riches. It was Aibel and Berger's job to refine the story, bring it back to Po and his legacy, and help define the story's tone. As their final script did just that, their services were retained to pen "Kung Fu Panda 2," as both writers and co-producers.
Cobb offers, "When you become enmeshed in the development of a character, there is no 'stopping place.' We always imagined we had more story to tell with the continuation of Po and his journey."
Aibel claims, "When you love your work as much as Glenn and I loved working on Po and Shifu and all the others, your brain is constantly churning out story possibilities--and since we were there when the groundwork was laid, we know the characters inside and out, so getting to take them further is another great day at the office."
Berger offers, "Just as Po is getting comfortable in his new role as Dragon Warrior and leader of the Furious Five, a turn of events takes place leading Po to ask questions he never thought to ask. Where did he come from? How did he get there? And why is his dad a goose and he's a panda? And unfortunately, Dad doesn't have much to offer by way of answers for Po. So Po spends the rest of the movie trying to answer those questions--and what he discovers will change their relationship forever."
When work began in earnest on the first film, there was no parental figure for Po. As the story developed, the writers felt that such a role was necessary for the panda's story. So how did they choose Mr. Ping, the goose, for fatherhood? As Jonathan Aibel explains, "The obvious choice would be to just give Po a panda dad, but we always knew we wanted Po to be the only panda in the village."
Glenn Berger picks up, "So we asked the animators, 'What do you have?' And we saw there were bunnies, there were ducks and there was this goose. And we thought, 'What if the goose was his dad? But how could that be?' Then that just led to all these questions--maybe Po doesn't know that this is not his biological father, or maybe he does know? It basically forced us to make a more unusual choice, and I think we then all got to explore what would happen if Ping were Po's father. In the end, I think it made for a more interesting movie."
For Jack Black, returning to the character of Po was a chance to spend more time with one of his most beloved characters. Thanks to Po, Black had the chance to kick off the 2008 Cannes Film Festival ("Kung Fu Panda" was the first film screened), by leading a parade of marchers dressed in panda costumes.
Black recalls another unique opportunity his relationship with Po afforded him: "A few months ago, I got to go to the Atlanta Zoo, and see the latest panda born in captivity...and they named him Po. Wow. I'd say that's a pretty big deal. He's not ready for a throw-down yet, but give him time. He's gonna be one heck of a panda, I just know it."
Black recalls, "When I finally saw the whole thing put together (Kung Fu Panda) it was one of the proudest moments of my career. It takes many years to make one of these movies - a lot longer than a regular live-action film. There's much more work that goes into it - story development, artwork, particularly the way the DreamWorks Animation filmmakers work on their films."
But for the actor, it was also a chance to bring more of his character to light. "Now, Po is having flashbacks of his childhood, before he lived with his father, who's a goose. So he comes to realize that he's actually adopted, and he doesn't know where his birth parents are or what happened to the other pandas. Why did they give him up? So in addition to this being a hero's journey to save the day, it's also a journey of self-discovery."
For even the most casual of observers, it's evident that Mr. Ping, a noodlemaking goose, is not Po's biological father, but the story does address exactly what makes a parent. Per Black: "Once Po suspects that he's adopted, he confronts his father, who admits that he found him when he was a baby. But he raised him as his son, and he considers him his son. Po believes that, too, but he still wants some questions answered. And it just so happens that these questions arise at the same time that a new villain, Lord Shen, the peacock, arrives on the scene. Mysterious, no?"
Black, who gained a much deeper appreciation of martial arts due to his involvement with the franchise, admits to practicing kung fu: "Yes, I did some training in kung fu, for both films. It wasn't just for research purposes, it was also to kind of get in shape. What really drew me is that there's a combination of exercise and self-defense, along with a third, sort of unseen, component: a spiritual one. When you're really practicing kung fu, living it and feeling it, there's a meditative quality that seeps in. It feels almost religious. It's an art form, really. Oh, well, duh, it's called martial arts."
Now a package deal, the Dragon Warrior comes with the Furious Five-- and writers Aibel and Berger were more than happy to welcome the entire gang back. Per Berger: "In the first film, we were busy telling the story of Po's training with Shifu, so we didn't get as much time as we wanted to with the Furious Five. But now, we have the great opportunity to have them along on this journey with Po and have them in more scenes, which meant more time to write for Angelina [Tigress], Jackie [Monkey], Seth [Mantis], Lucy [Viper] and David [Crane]. For any writer, any one of those would be enough. But to have five of them along in all these scenes is just a great opportunity for us."
As Tigress, perhaps the most accomplished fighter of the Furious Five, Angelina Jolie was also happy to return, and like Black, was enthusiastic when she found out that her character would be undergoing some changes as well. Jolie says, "First and foremost, Tigress is a fighter, and she's out to get the bad guy. But what's nice about this story is that she has a bit of a breakthrough and learns to be nicer. Her pride was wounded when she was not chosen to be the Dragon Warrior, and it took her a while to get over being angry at Po and the universe, in general."
The writers enthusiastically created new facets in Tigress that gave Jolie more to explore this time around: "What if Tigress had this softer side to her? To be able to give that to Angelina and see what she did with it was great to witness. Sometimes, it takes an animated character to show a different side of an actor. As a voice performer, you're free from people's expectations of what they've seen from you in live-action films."
"She's such a pure, beautiful character," the actress continues. "She was written with such an interesting history. She comes from an orphanage, she grows up not knowing her own strength or understanding herself--but then she grows into this very strong woman, the others call her 'hardcore.' But she just doesn't have the ability to access her softer side and emotions--maybe a measure of self-protection. And I think that's why some people identify with her."
When asked why she feels the first film was so successful (and the reason why the cinematic tale is continuing), Jolie observes, "The movie was so fun and cool and hip, but it also had a sense of history and culture. It was also this moral tale of how to behave, how to treat your friends, which makes it more like a classic animated film. But mostly, it has Jack Black, which I feel is the main reason people went to see it--it would be my reason! He's so funny, and the dynamic between him and the Five, it's almost a classic dysfunctional family." "And what really impresses me," considers Jolie, "is that they really took the hard road with this sequel. Sometimes, you can just take it easy on a second film--but the choices they made, there's so much more added depth. I think the writers and the filmmakers decided to address issues of sense of self and identity--things that come into play for anyone who starts life as an orphan or undergoes adoption. Working with Jen as a director, she's probably the calmest person I've ever met. She's put a great deal of thought into these projects, which have taken up something like seven-and-one-half years. She's such a soulful person and she's brought so many interesting, thoughtful layers to the story. She has a great nurturing sense about her, along with extraordinary intelligence and depth."
Her admiration of her colleagues aside, when asked to name one of the best things about working on the "Panda" films, Jolie jokes, "You get to come to work in your pajamas."
Apparently, choice of work attire also played a great part in Dustin Hoffman's involvement with the second film, although in a poetic sense: "Providing the voice of Shifu again was like slipping into a comfortable robe, assuming a meditative pose and settling into a tranquil state of mind. That pretty much describes the atmosphere created by the wonderful filmmakers at DreamWorks Animation, as well."
"Quips aside," the venerable actor continues, "I've had great fun working on both 'Panda' films. I'm greatly impressed by the creative passion and artistic talent I have encountered along the way. Our director and producer, Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Melissa Cobb, ran the production like a relaxing cruise. It wasn't all shuffleboard and mahjong, mind you, but as far as productions go, this was almost zen. At least my involvement was, and for that, I'm extremely grateful. I don't know, maybe they fought like cats and dogs with Jack and were too tired to reprimand me for any silliness or non-productivity."
For Jackie Chan's involvement, silliness was a requirement most days. The character's joking manner was perfectly served by Chan's jovial work attitude--it could almost be mistaken for a case of type casting. Chan says, "It's so much fun playing Monkey that it doesn't even feel like a job. We're very much alike--we're good at martial arts, and we can use joking as a screen, to hide the fact that before our opponents know it, while they're laughing, we've beaten them. But then a lot of times, I just joke for fun."
The joke quotient, according to Seth Rogen, who returns as the tiny but mighty Mantis, is one of the reasons for the success of the films. Considering the Furious Five, Rogen observes, "The dynamic between the characters is funny, honestly, just from a sheer physical standpoint, they look pretty funny together. It's just an odd collection of animals to see in one place, and the actors they have doing them are funny. To start, David Cross and Jackie Chan--and I don't know if he knows it, but Jackie is incredibly funny. And Lucy is funny and Jack, well, he can pull it together to be funny every now and then. Now, while Angelina is funny, she's somehow sexy, even though she's an animated tiger, which is pretty impressive. It transcends animation. So I think that the rapport between the characters and the fact that everyone doing the voices are really funny people is what makes it good to watch."
While some performers consider voice acting too limiting, Rogen finds it just the opposite: "I really enjoy voice acting. And oddly enough, to me, it's a lot more performance oriented than acting in a live-action movie. In those, there are a lot of technical considerations, hitting your mark, looking in a certain place, finding your light--so what you're saying is a very small percentage of what you're doing in the movie. But with voice acting, it's everything. It's just focusing on what you're saying and the performance of those words--you can really do it in a lot of different ways. And you don't even have to deal with other actors, which is fantastic. It's just you. You're the star of the show, no matter how small your part is."
Returning as the seductive fighter Viper, Lucy Liu couldn't have been happier that the project was heading into a second chapter. Liu explains, "My experience with the first one was incredible. And then to find out that they wanted to do it again was even more exciting--mostly based on the reaction of the kids that I know that loved the first one. When they saw the movie, a lot of them didn't know that I was playing Viper, because some are younger and they don't really associate me with my voice. But once they got that concept, and figured out it was me, suddenly, I was like the President of the United States! All of a sudden, I became this VIP, and they immediately started haranguing me about a sequel, way before one was announced."
Adulation aside, the quality of the art was of key importance to Liu: "In 3D this time, there's so much that will be amazing in the animation--the kung fu fighting, the movement, the landscape of China, the architecture of Shen's city. To see it really coming towards you; that added dimension really just reinforces the beauty of the animation, and the composition of the picture."
The forever wry David Cross is just happy to have a job: "Yeah, the first one was fun and all. I mean, I felt certain that there would be a 'Kung Fu Crane' spin off, because let's face it, who wouldn't plonk down hard-earned cash to see that? I mean, beyond just my relatives and the few friends I have left? But as day jobs go, this is pretty cool. And Crane is awesome, although I think he'd benefit from some great tats."
As Po's father, the goose Mr. Ping, James Hong--the veteran character actor with more than 60 years' worth of performances--found the first film "awesome" without any thought of biology or parentage. He comments, "I was flabbergasted by the whole thing, the process, the way it was put together. I just could not believe what I was seeing, in the sense that it was amazing to finally 'see' my voice coming out of Ping. I think I saw it at the premiere for the first time, and seeing my voice married together with the character so well, I didn't know if I was Mr. Ping or Mr. Ping was me. Although I think he might even be a deeper character than I am. He has many facets. I would say, to describe him, he's a single parent--sort of a Jewish mother and a Chinese father combined, if you can imagine that!"
PROUD AS A PEACOCK, TOUGH AS A WARRIOR
In our world of ancient China--the version that serves as home to the characters of "Kung Fu Panda 2"--fireworks, or sky flowers, were the dominion of the ruling peacocks, until a son in line for the throne saw their potential for destruction. In turning the purpose of fireworks from constructive to destructive, the peacock named Shen sets his own course toward darker purposes...and, inadvertently aims his life's path to eventually cross with a panda named Po.
Jonathan Aibel explains the genesis of Shen: "When we first started working on ideas for the sequel, we knew that we had already created a fantastic villain in the first film with Tai Lung--he was the ultimate in kung fu strength and Po's victory over him was a victory of softness over hardness. We felt we couldn't top Tai Lung if we tried to come up with an even stronger villain, so we thought, 'What if we tried to make this villain more threatening in an intellectual and an emotional way?' So that's how we came up with the character of the albino peacock, Lord Shen."
The director interjects, "For the villain in this film, we went a completely different way from Tai Lung, who was hardcore, full-on strength and brutality. And we couldn't really go much stronger than he--Tai Lung could punch his way out of a mountain. So we looked for someone more threatening in a different way--more intellectual, smarter, devious. Po has learned to master the art of kung fu, so something was needed that could trump ability. Lord Shen is, at first, an unimposing-looking guy. He's a white peacock, after all, not much of a threat, right? Well, in addition to his fighting skills, which are imposing, he also has speed, and all of that is backed up with weaponry. He's sinister and scary in his own way."
To voice such a clever, flamboyant and accomplished bird as Shen, filmmakers sought out one of the best and most versatile character performers working in entertainment: Gary Oldman.
"Among Gary's amazing performances," points out the director, "are several who could be called villains--and yet, they possess so much charm and bearing that their villainy almost becomes secondary. His work in 'Bram Stoker's Dracula' shows us the human heart of the monster. We felt that his skills would elevate Shen from a character simply driven by vengeance to a really interesting, multi-layered soul. Evil is so much more alluring when it's painted with a full spectrum."
The producer adds, "Gary has such a great voice that can communicate gentleness and soul one minute, and spine-chilling evil the next. That combination really serves Shen. He gives him an amazing emotional intensity."
"I love the challenge of conveying a character fully just using the voice," explains Gary Oldman. "And Shen is a particularly interesting character. His cleverness led to a miscalculation, and what he had hoped would be an invention worth celebrating turned out to be a weapon that inspired fear. It's that moment when a child, who is immensely proud of something, finds out that what he has accomplished is deemed wrong. That makes for a great deal of hurt--not only does he want to prove himself right and worthy, he wants to take those down who stood in his way in the process. He has come back to take what is rightfully his. I think he fits very nicely in the gallery of Oldman villains."
Co-star and leading panda Jack Black echoes the praise of his director and producer: "The villain this time around is an evil peacock and it's played by one of my favorite actors of all time, Gary Oldman. I've always drawn a lot of inspiration from his performances, way back to 'Sid and Nancy.' And to see all of the different villains that he's played? Probably my favorite is 'Dracula.' In the scene where he's with the white wolf, and he says to the girl, 'He likes you.' There's something almost delicate about the evil in that scene that was really amazing. I was really excited when I heard he was playing Shen."
"Pride has been called many things and has carried the blame for some of the worst in man," muses Oldman. "And Shen is proud--he's a peacock, so it's almost in his DNA. That pride, though, if it were matched with some humility or compassion, he would actually make a formidable leader. But, as it stands, he makes for a rather nasty opponent."
Leading Shen's army of lupine forces is the aptly named Wolf Boss, voiced by Danny McBride. Notes the actor, "He's pretty fierce and cool--and I think what really makes him awesome to play is that he only has one eye. That is always shorthand for someone who is tough. Anyone in a Western missing an eye is someone to be reckoned with. Who doesn't want to play the big, bad wolf?"
Michelle Yeoh is no stranger to big, bad villains, or martial arts films (although "KFP2" is her first animated martial arts entry). Never professionally schooled in martial arts, the performer used her early dance training to take full advantage when she began making action films for a Hong Kong-based company in the mid '80s. Already a respected performer outside of the United States, Yeoh's domestic popularity skyrocketed with her performance in Ang Lee's lyrical "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." In KFP2, Yeoh was cast as the voice of the Soothsayer--a wise and ancient big-horned sheep that is close in character to the witches in "Macbeth," and her visions come to influence (if not out and out determine) some of the key plot points in the film.
Yeoh comments, "I did 'Crouching Tiger' because I felt that the genre needed more respect and dignity than it had been afforded. It is steeped in history and our culture--I think it really opened eyes in Western audiences. And I feel that the 'Kung Fu Panda' films do the same thing, in a way. Whether people realize it or not, they are being exposed to aspects of Chinese culture, martial arts and legend. And it's done in such an enjoyable way that it doesn't feel anything like a lesson or a classroom learning experience. I think they're wonderful entertainment, and I was very glad to be asked to be in this one."
REVISITING A BEAUTIFUL, ANCIENT WORLD...
"If it's easy or obvious, it's not in the movie."
This was the dictum put in place on the first "Kung Fu Panda" by producer Cobb and filmmakers, and that level of excellence was picked right back up when production on the sequel began. For several of those involved in both, it seemed like an formidable challenge to try and top the artistic accomplishment of the first.
Jack Black ponders, "The amazing sequences they had with Tai Lung in the first film, I just really didn't get how they would top those. They were mindblowing. But that's what Jen and everybody set out to do, and that's what they did. Not only the kung fu got kicked up a notch, but so did the sets. The whole city, the big vistas, the gorgeous ancient Chinese landscapes and sunsets--and now, ker-ching, they're in 3D. I know I say it a lot but, c'mon, AWE-SOME. There's this enormous pagoda that is Lord Shen's headquarters, and just in renderings, it is breathtaking. And do I have to say it? The fighting, Po's coming at you, all his furry glory at lightning speed. In two dimensions, it'll blow you away. In 3D, well, it'll blow your whole family away with you, and they may not even be in the theater."
Jennifer Yuh Nelson saw the opportunity to (literally) blow the film out of the water: "The effects that we can accomplish now are much more advanced than just a couple of years ago, particularly with the added layer of 3D. So we were able to go pretty much where we wanted to with the action. Since we wanted to build on the first movie--and the first movie's done in the relative safety of the Valley of Peace--we wanted to push Po out of his comfort zone into a much larger, more intimidating location. We wanted to explore that and get a sense of space and scale, and just the sheer vastness of some of the challenges that Po and the Five are up against."
For returning editor Clare Knight, 3D offers challenges, yes, but it is an expansion of the canvas she welcomes: "The thing about 3D I find is that it's substantially more immersive. For me, editing in 3D, I have to look at so much more within the screen. Moviegoers will get to see a whole lot more. So now, even more care is taken. I have to really look at how the eye is informed across the cut. Too much, too fast, the classic headache and eye fatigue. It really is a much bigger challenge, but that makes it all the more exciting to work on. And in this world, it's beautiful, and it serves both the action and the incredible environments we've built. It's the ultimate, and very exciting for the storytelling process."
Back to 'oversee' the look of the film is production designer Raymond Zibach. His job, as he puts it: "Basically, I'm responsible for everything visually in the film--from character design, to location design, to color of the whole film, the lighting, all the artwork--basically, I'm the uber art director, if that's an okay word to use."
...BY VISITING A MODERN ONE
Considerable time and effort was taken to anchor "Kung Fu Panda 2" in a more expansive canvas than previously explored as the characters venture from the Valley of Peace to Gongmen City. More environments meant more detail, and so department heads headed off to China, where they took inspiration from some very real locations.
Glenn Berger comments, "I don't how Raymond creates everything, but I'm glad he does. We're just lucky we get to write inside that world. When we got to travel to China with the departments, they were constantly pulling out their sketch pads, they were always taking photographs--and we can actually see moments from those trips appearing in the second movie, inspiring landscapes and city-scapes...we're just in awe of what these guys do."
Producer Cobb: "Raymond is fearless about pushing the visual boundaries. He gets an idea in his head and he's relentless about making sure that it gets on the screen. So he and Jen are a great team. They work really closely together--they collaborated a lot on the first film, and they're working really closely together on this movie. They really share a vision for what the film could be, and Raymond brings the artistic vision to elevate the project--lighting, effects, the look of the characters, the richness of the world, the detail of the surfacing. They're both such astute artists that together, they bring out the best in each other."
Aibel says, "I recently looked through the photos I had taken on our China visit--us standing at the Great Wall of China, in front of temples and monuments. And when I looked through Raymond's and [art director] Tang's photos, they're of bricks, moss, old wood, scraps of fabric. And when I see that all of this stuff they've literally--or should I say, 'virtually'--put into the movie. Everything in this movie had to be created, every surface, every detail, every texture. I look at it and it feels like a real place, all because of what they did."
Berger counters, "Yeah, it makes you realize we had a much better time in China than they did. They were actually working! I mean, we can just breezily write a line about the soothsayer goat chewing on the hem of the peacock's silk robe, just because we think it's funny. They actually have to design a silk robe, a goat's teeth, how that fabric looks chewed and wet with her saliva...it's astounding to me. And I'm glad it's not us!"
While the first film was inspired and informed by reference materials-- piles and piles of books on (and internet searches for!) Chinese art and architecture, symbolism, costume, cuisine, landscape, along with discussions with cultural experts--the second film was a hands-on experience for the filmmakers, who explored all of those facets of the country with their own eyes. Zibach relates, "Even with our 'long distance' work on the first film, it struck a chord there (in China). Some people basically said, 'You're from the U.S., how did you nail this?' That was the most flattering thing you could have told me. I have to say, I love the culture. I think the fact that we started with inspiration from artwork, which comes from very deep within a culture, and having that influence the story, every aspect, that's what made it feel authentic, even to the Chinese."
Says Nelson, "Being in China was amazing, because there's a certain level of tactile knowledge of a place that you'll never get from a book. Actually being there and feeling what the air feels like, or the way the light hits the side of a building or a tile; there are all these tiny details that really push the movie forward."
For visual inspiration, the creative team visited the ancient walled city of Pingyao, the Shaolin Monastery, and Beijing, but travel time was concentrated in Chengdu, in the southwestern Sichuan Province. Time was spent at a panda reserve and among Buddhist and Taoist temples and shrines, many nestled in the "misty and mystical mountains near the area," says Zibach. "That, for me, was what informed a lot of the look of this film."
The Sichuan province is the natural habitat of the panda, and currently home to 80% of the nation's panda population, thanks to the Panda Breeding and Research Center, located a few miles from downtown Chengdu. Jonathan Aibel offers, "No surprise to anyone, but pandas are as gentle and as fun and frolicky as you would hope they are."
Glenn Berger comments, "We actually got to meet, pet and unofficially kiss some pandas in the reserve. There was a bassinet filled with five, teeny baby pandas, and if I could have snuck one out in my jacket, I would have. But I did notice, for all their cuteness, they aren't nearly as funny as Jack."
Part of what makes Jack funny (as Po, anyway) are the things his character can accomplish on screen. Visual effects supervisor Alex Parkinson describes his job as "where animation meets computer animation. We take all of the crazy ideas that the director, the writers and the story people have, and couple those together with the amazing artwork that the production designer and art director creates, and actually deliver that onto the screen. So we supervise all the computer graphics, part of the process."
Parkinson was also a returnee to "Kung Fu Panda 2": "Like everyone else in the world, I wanted to know what Po's backstory was. I think one of the wonderful things about the first movie was it left questions unanswered. Everybody wanted to know, why is Po's dad a goose? Why is he the only panda in the village? So, I thought the best way to find out the answers to those questions was to work on the second movie."
In addition to answering the unanswered was the opportunity to work on larger vistas than the first film, particularly the environs of Gongmen City ("it's a sprawling mass of Chinese architecture!") and one of the distinguishing features of albino peacock Lord Shen: "Feathers are more difficult than fur, because you can see the penetrations. Because fur is thinner, it can pass through and go somewhat unnoticed. But with feathers, if they pass through each other, you see the collision--so our term for making sure every single feather is separate and does not pass through any other feather is de-interpenetration. Each one has to be handled separately."
So what about sequences that combine every challenging aspect of digital animation? "Kung Fu Panda 2" filmmakers never once considered taking the easy way out. Writer/co-producer Glenn Berger offers, "It's very easy for us to say in a script, 'And then there's a big battle here, in which such-and-such happens, and there's a cannon, with Po facing up to a cannon ball.' But then, to see how that's turned into a five-minute epic battle is just unbelievable."
Writer/co-producer Jonathan Aibel offers, "And that turns into a two-year epic work experience for hundreds of people. What took us a few days to write becomes the task of entire departments--and along the way, we learned some very interesting things about animation. For instance, what we thought was going to be the most expensive and time-consuming, cannons exploding entire cities, apparently is not as expensive as characters getting wet. Fur getting wet, feathers getting wet--looking beyond the creation of them, getting them to look and act real, which is challenging enough, now getting them wet...well, we learned that that is very expensive."
Berger jokes, "Yes, and we've spared no expense in this film--we have a lot of explosions and a lot of wet fur and feathers! There's an old joke that the most expensive line a writer can write is, 'And then, it started to rain.' And it rains in this movie, too."
Also back to help kick ass (literally) is Rodolphe Guenoden, supervising animator, story artist and resident martial arts advisor and choreographer. He echoes the feelings of the other KFP veterans when he discusses the latest film: "Scale is a big thing. This is much more epic movie than the original was, and in every sense--the background, the vistas, the amount of characters on screen, the emotions on display--it's visually very striking. I think it's stunning."
But even in this larger, more heightened, 3D world, some things still remain the same. He continues, "We didn't want Po to become Bruce Lee all of a sudden, to become all serious. We still wanted him to be slightly clumsy, even though he's gotten more training now, and can and does kick ass. He's still learning and developing his own style. Yet, there is still a lot of opportunity for comedy, even in the action. Po has been trained in classic kung fu, but he's doing it panda-style. So, the comedy comes from the fact that when he fights, it can be a lot of work, so some of his facial expressions show that, and we also get to see him panting heavily sometimes. He doesn't have his game face, like Tigress."
With the new villain of Shen also came the opportunity to incorporate new (and perhaps, unexpected) influences. While pondering the fighting style of Po's newest adversary, Guenoden thought to incorporate some unconventional moves he observed while viewing the Beijing Olympics: "Shen is graceful, elegant, but can turn menacing, threatening, even lethal. It was really enjoyable, playing with the character. When we first started exploring him, I was sketching and had been watching the Olympics, rhythmic gymnastics. The girls use whatever objects, and are just so flexible, so fluid. I thought it would be great to establish a mix between real martial arts and those kind of unexpected movements...something bordering on weird. To have a fighter that could do those moves, raise his leg, extend it almost to his head, and do it with a sword. As a peacock, we also got to incorporate his huge tail into the fighting--as a shield, or a cover, or use it in a sweep. There is a lot of creativity that goes on with the character that is pretty fun."
CONTINUING THE JOURNEY
Even with all of the technological advances, the addition of elevated action and a larger scale, plus the visual impact of 3D, "Kung Fu Panda 2" is still the journey of one dreamer named Po.
Jonathan Aibel muses, "Most of us aren't pandas who are gonna become kung fu masters, but we all have secret dreams, and feel, for whatever reason, that we can't do what we really want to do because maybe other people are telling us we're not good enough. So I think it's the vulnerability of the character of Po and the fact that he never gives up--and ultimately succeeds--that makes this story so relatable."
Melissa Cobb continues, "And still at the center of it, Po is still Po. He's better at kung fu, but he's still a little bit goofy, at times a little bit clumsy, has a large appetite, and sometimes his enthusiasm outweighs his ability. But whatever situation he gets himself into, the audience identifies and just has fun watching it all play out."
For director Nelson, it is her continuing communal journey with likeminded artists that brings her back to Po's story. She closes, "We've been through a long, long span of panda years together, and we all know the characters. We know the movie and we're all very protective of making sure that it's done well. Everybody's just so passionate about it. It's really a treat to work with so many people who personally take it upon themselves to make a great product. You don't have to ask. They will say, 'Well, that could be better, in my opinion, so I'm going to keep working on it,' even if you don't ask for it. They're just honor-bound to make this really great. And so it's just wonderful. They're great people, without ego, and the movie always comes first. It really is about excellence of self and the contribution of that to a shared goal."
Jack Black adds, "It all sorta comes full circle. I've been playing this character now for about five years, giving kids something to have fun with, and also, to learn that just giving it your all is what is asked. You can't pre-judge how good you're going to be at something--you can defeat yourself before you ever get out of the gate. But you just go for it."
About the Cast
JACK BLACK (Po) had a busy 2010 holiday season releasing the widely anticipated remake of "Gulliver's Travels" for 20th Century Fox in December. Black, who produced the film, starred as Lemuel Gulliver opposite Academy Award®-nominated Emily Blunt, Jason Segel and Amanda Peet. Currently in its fourth month of release, the film has grossed more than $218 million worldwide.
Black will gear up for a busy fall as he is scheduled to release "The Big Year" with Academy Award® winner Anjelica Huston and a comedy super cast of Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, Jim Parsons, Rashida Jones and Joel McHale in October for 20th Century Fox. He can also be seen in the Thanksgiving release of "The Muppets," written by his "Gulliver's" co-star, Jason Segel, for Disney.
Most recently, Black finished filming "Bernie," collaborating once again with his "School of Rock" director, Richard Linklater. Black stars as a small-town funeral director who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a wealthy widow (Shirley MacLaine) in small-town Texas. When she dies unexpectedly, he goes to great lengths to create the illusion she is still alive. Linklater, who also cowrote the script with Skip Hollandsworth, will release the film for Columbia Pictures in 2011.
In 2009, Black voiced video game character Eddie Riggs (modeled after him) in the widely popular "Brutal Legend." The game follows roadie (Riggs) into a fantasy world of heavy metal. Black was nominated and won for Best Voice at the Spike Video Game Awards in 2009.
The year 2008 was very busy for Black, starting with lending his voice to the lead animated character of Po in DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda." Opening in June, the film earned more than $633 million worldwide.
Black was back on top of the box office charts in August for the Paramount release of "Tropic Thunder." Directed and written by Ben Stiller, who also starred in the film, Black was joined by the star-studded cast Robert Downey Jr., Jay Baruchel, Brandon T. Jackson, Tom Cruise and Matthew McConaughey. The film was Number One in the box office for two straight weeks and has earned over $110 million domestically.
Being Number One is nothing new for Black. In September 2003, he proved his box office draw with a Number One opening for Paramount Pictures, "School of Rock," from producer Scott Rudin, and writer Mike White. In the film, Black received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. The next year Jack reunited with White to release "Nacho Libre," which marked the first production under Black & White Productions, formed in late 2004 by White and Black.
In December 2005, Black was seen in the highly anticipated cinematic blockbuster and Academy Award®-winning film, "King Kong." Directed by Peter Jackson, the film opened at Number One and remained on top for three weeks in a row, and grossed over $540 million worldwide.
Black's other screen credits include the comedies "Bob Roberts," "High Fidelity," "Saving Silverman," "Shallow Hal," "Orange County," "Envy," "Shark Tale," "The Holiday," 2000's independent drama "Jesus' Son" and 2007's drama "Margot at the Wedding."
Fans also know Black as the lead singer of the rock-folk comedy group Tenacious D, which he created with friend Kyle Gass. Their self-titled album was released in the fall of 2001 with Epic Records and was quickly certified at goldselling status. The band had a variety series on HBO that aired in 1999. The duo completed their first feature "Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny" for New Line Cinema, which released in November 2006.
Following "Pick of Destiny," two documentaries were released in relation to the film. The first, directed and produced by Black, entitled "The Making of 'The Pick of Destiny,'" reveals a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film. The second, "D Tour: A Tenacious Documentary," focuses on the band's world tour in support of their film and soundtrack.
Black currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Tanya, and their two sons.
Academy Award® and three-time Golden Globe winner ANGELINA JOLIE (Tigress) continues to be one of Hollywood's most talented leading actresses.
Most recently, Jolie starred for Academy Award®-winning director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck opposite Johnny Depp in "The Tourist," for which she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. Also last year, she starred in the blockbuster thriller "Salt" for director Philip Noyce. Prior to that, Jolie starred in Clint Eastwood's acclaimed film "Changeling," for which she received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Actress, as well as nominations from the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Broadcast Film Critics, London Film Critics and Chicago Film Critics.
Jolie also starred in the 2008 box office hits "Wanted," the fantasy-thriller directed by Timur Bekmambetov, and DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda," opposite Jack Black. In 2007, she starred in Robert Zemeckis' "Beowulf" and Michael Winterbottom's critically acclaimed "A Mighty Heart," the dramatic true story of Mariane and Daniel Pearl.
Jolie's performance in "A Mighty Heart" earned her nominations from the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Broadcast Film Critics and Film Independent's Spirit Awards.
Jolie's previous films include "The Good Shepard," directed by Robert De Niro and co-starring Matt Damon; "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," co-starring Brad Pitt; and "Alexander," directed by Oliver Stone and co-starring Colin Farrell and Anthony Hopkins. In 2003, she played the lead role in the action-adventure "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life," the sequel to director Simon West's 2001 boxoffice smash "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," and portrayed a relief worker for the United Nations in the provocative drama "Beyond Borders."
Jolie's portrayal of a mental patient in "Girl, Interrupted" garnered her an Academy Award®, her third Golden Globe Award, a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, ShoWest's Supporting Actress of the Year Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role. The HBO film "Gia" earned Jolie critical praise as well as a Golden Globe Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Emmy nomination for her portrayal of supermodel Gia Carangi, who died of AIDS.
Jolie has also received wide recognition for her humanitarian work. She was the first recipient of the Citizen of the World Award from the United Nations Correspondents Association, as well as the Global Humanitarian Action Award in 2005. In February 2007, Jolie was accepted by the bipartisan think tank Council on Foreign Relations for a special five-year term designed to nurture the next generation of foreign-policy makers.
Jolie is also a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She helped push through the Unaccompanied Alien Child Protection Act and founded the National Center for Refugee and Immigrant Children, an organization that provides free legal aid to asylum-seeking children.
A two-time Academy Award® winner and seven-time nominee whose arrival in Hollywood helped usher in a new and revitalized approach to filmmaking, DUSTIN HOFFMAN (Shifu) continues to add singular performances to a career rich with characters that have obliterated the line previously dividing the archetypes of "character actor" and "leading man."
Hoffman caught the world's attention for his role as Benjamin Braddock in Mike Nichol's Academy Award®-nominated film, "The Graduate." Since then, he has been nominated for six more Academy Awards® for diverse films such as "Midnight Cowboy," "Lenny," "Tootsie" (a film he also produced through his company, Punch Productions), and "Wag the Dog." Hoffman won the Oscar® in 1979 for his role in "Kramer vs. Kramer" and again in 1988 for "Rain Man." In 1997, he was awarded the Golden Globe's esteemed Cecil B. DeMille Award.
Hoffman recently reprised his role as Bernie Focker in "Little Fockers" starring opposite Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro and Barbra Streisand. The film was released by Universal Pictures on December 22, 2010.
Currently in production on Michael Mann's horseracing drama, "Luck" for HBO, Hoffman plays Ace Bernstein, an intelligent, intuitive gambler who has just been released from prison. Bernstein teams with Gus Economou (Dennis Farina), his longtime chauffeur and muscle, to craft a complex plan involving the track.
"Barney's Version", a new independent feature film directed by Richard J. Lewis, has Dustin starring opposite Paul Giamatti as a retired cop and father whose son has led a reckless life, and becomes the "person of interest" in the mysterious disappearance of his friend. "Barney's Version" premiered at this year's Venice Film Festival and was released by Sony Pictures Classics.
Hoffman last starred in "Last Chance Harvey," a love story set in London, written and directed by Joel Hopkins, and co-starring Emma Thompson. He received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical category for his role.
Recently, Hoffman lent his voice to the box office hit, "Kung Fu Panda." The film was nominated for an Academy Award® for Animated Feature Film of the Year and Hoffman received the Annie Award for Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production.
Hoffman's other film credits also include "The Tale of Despereaux," "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium," "Stranger Than Fiction," "Perfume," "Meet the Fockers," "Finding Neverland," "I Heart Huckabee's," "The Lost City," "Racing Stripes," "Runaway Jury," "Little Big Man," "Straw Dogs," "Papillon," "All the President's Men," "Marathon Man," "Straight Time," "Agatha," "Ishtar," "Dick Tracy," "Billy Bathgate," "Mad City," "Hero," "Sleepers," "Sphere," "American Buffalo," "Hook" and "Outbreak."
On stage, Hoffman has had an equally impressive career. His first stage role was in the Sarah Lawrence College production of Gertrude Stein's "Yes Is for a Very Young Man." This performance led to several roles off-Broadway, such as "Journey of the Fifth Horse," for which he won the Obie, and "Eh?", for which he won the Drama Desk Award for Best Actor. His success on stage caught the attention of Mike Nichols, who cast him in "The Graduate." In 1969, Hoffman made his Broadway debut in Murray Schisgal's "Jimmy Shine." In 1974, Hoffman made his Broadway directorial debut with Schisgal's "All Over Town." In 1984, Hoffman garnered a Drama Desk Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Willy Loman in the Broadway revival of "Death of a Salesman," which he also produced. In addition to starring in the Broadway production, a special presentation aired on television and Hoffman won the Emmy Award.
Additionally, Hoffman received a Tony Award nomination for his role as Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice," which he reprised from his long run on the London stage.
As a producer, Hoffman produced Tony Goldwyn's feature film "A Walk on the Moon" starring Diane Lane, Viggo Mortensen, Liev Schreiber and Anna Paquin. He executive-produced "The Devil's Arithmetic," which won two Emmy Awards.
Hoffman was born in Los Angeles and attended Santa Monica Community College. He later studied at the Pasadena Playhouse before moving to New York to study with Lee Strasberg.
Hoffman serves as the chair of the Artistic Advisory Board for the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage Theater, which opened on September 20, 2008. This intimate 499-seat state-of-the-art theater provides a much-needed performance facility for Santa Monica College and the surrounding community.
Hoffman was recently awarded the Honorary Cesar Medal at the 2009 Cesar Awards.
JACKIE CHAN (Monkey) is an actor, action choreographer, filmmaker, comedian, producer, martial artist, screenwriter, entrepreneur, singer and stunt performer. Originally from Hong Kong, he is known for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, use of improvised weapons and innovative stunts. Jackie Chan has been acting since the 1970s and has appeared in over 100 films.
In 1960, his father immigrated to Australia, to work as head cook for the American embassy, and Chan was sent to the China Drama Academy, a Peking Opera School. There, Chan trained rigorously for the next decade, excelling in martial arts and acrobatics.
Upon his graduation in 1971, Chan found work as an acrobat and a movie stuntman, most notably in "Fist of Fury," starring Hong Kong's resident big-screen superstar, Bruce Lee. For that film, he reportedly completed the highest fall in the history of the Chinese film industry, earning the respectful notice of the formidable Lee, among others.
After Lee's tragic death, Chan had decided that he wanted to break out of the Lee mold and create his own image. Blending his martial arts abilities with an impressive nerve--he insisted on performing all of his own stunts--and a sense of screwball physical comedy reminiscent of one of his idols, Buster Keaton, Chan found his own formula for cinematic gold.
Chan's first major breakthrough was the 1978 film "Snake in the Eagle's Shadow." Under director Yuen Woo Ping, Chan was allowed complete freedom over his stunt work. The film established the comedic kung fu genre, and proved to be a breath of fresh air for the Hong Kong audience. Chan then starred in "Drunken Master," which finally propelled him to mainstream success.
His noteworthy list of film credits includes "Supercop"; "Supercop 2" with Michelle Yeoh; "Rumble in the Bronx"; "Thunderbolt"; "Mr. Nice Guy"; three "Rush Hour" movies, co-starring Chris Tucker; "Shanghai Noon" and "Shanghai Knights" with Owen Wilson; "The Tuxedo," co-starring Jennifer Love Hewitt; "The Medallion"; "Around the World in 80 Days," in which he portrayed Passepartout/Lau Xing; "Kung Fu Panda," as voice of Monkey; "The Spy Next Door"; and 2010 blockbuster film "The Karate Kid," co-starring Jaden Smith, produced by Will Smith and Jerry Weintraub for Sony Pictures. He also voiced himself in the animated series "Jackie Chan Adventures."
In 1983, he established the Jackie Chan Stuntmen Association, which began as an official organization of six members, and meant that its stuntmen not only received insurance coverage, but also a monthly salary and higher pay.
Founded in 1988, the Jackie Chan Charitable Foundation offers scholarships and active help to Hong Kong's young people through a variety of worthy causes. Over the years, the foundation has broadened its scope to include provision of medical services, aid to victims of natural disaster or illness, and projects where the major beneficiaries are Hong Kong people or organizations.
Chan is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, having worked tirelessly to champion charitable works and causes. He has campaigned for conservation, against animal abuse and has promoted disaster relief efforts for floods in mainland China and the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. In June 2006, he announced the donation of half his assets to charity upon his death, citing his admiration of the effort made by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to help those in need. Following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, Chan donated RMB 10 million Chinese Yuan to help those in need.
In response to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, Jackie Chan and fellow artist & celebrities from across Asia headlined a special three-hour charity concert on April 1 to help with Japan's disaster recovery effort, where Jackie Chan addressed the victims of the earthquake and tsunami by saying: "You will not be alone, we will be by your side." The event raised over USD $3.3 million.
SETH ROGEN (Mantis) has emerged leading a new generation of comedic actors, writers and producers. Rogen demonstrated his wide-ranging ability as he co-wrote, executive-produced and starred as the main character, Britt Reid, from the comic-book-turned-action-film, "The Green Hornet," released in January. Directed by Michael Gondry, Rogen stars opposite the Academy Award®-winning actor Christoph Waltz, who plays the villain Chudnofsky.
Rogen recently wrapped "The Untitled Seth Rogen Cancer Comedy," a film written and based on the real life experience of Vancouver native Will Reiser. Starring alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the film unfolds the comedic perspective of the 25-year-old's (Gordon-Levitt) cancer diagnosis and subsequently, his best friend's desire for him to beat the disease. The film is set to release in Spring, 2011. Rogen recently starred as the voice of the title character in the comedy "Paul," teaming once again with "Superbad" director, Greg Mottola. Written by Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, and co-starring Jane Lynch, Kristen Wiig and Jason Bateman, Rogen voices an alien who has escaped outside of Area 51 and joins up with two geeks on their way to Comic Con.
Nominated for an Emmy Award in 2005 for Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy for "Da Ali G Show," Rogen began his career doing standup comedy in Vancouver, Canada at the age of 13. After moving to Los Angeles, Rogen landed supporting roles in Judd Apatow's two critically acclaimed network television comedies, "Freaks and Geeks" and "Undeclared," the latter on which Rogen was also hired as a staff writer at the age of 18. Shortly after, Rogen was guided by Apatow toward a film career, first with the box office smash hit, "The 40 Year Old Virgin," which opened Number One and remained at the top perch for two weekends in a row. The film went on to gross more than $175 million worldwide and helped put Rogen on the map as a future film star. The film was named one of the 10 Most Outstanding Motion Pictures of the Year by AFI and took home Best Comedy Movie at the 11th annual Critics' Choice Awards. Rogen served as a co-producer on the film as well.
Rogen headlined two summer blockbusters in 2007. First, he starred in "Knocked Up," co-starring Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann; the Apatow project grossed more than $140 million domestically. Distributed by Universal Pictures, Rogen was also an executive producer. Shortly thereafter, Rogen starred in "Superbad" (a semi-autobiographical comedy), that he co-wrote and executive-produced with writing partner Evan Goldberg. The film grossed more than $120 million domestically for Sony Pictures. The duo also found success the following summer in the action-comedy "Pineapple Express." Starring opposite James Franco and Danny McBride, the Number One box office hit went on to make more than $100 million worldwide for Sony Pictures.
Rogen has also found great success lending his voice for animated films. He began with "Kung Fu Panda" as Mantis, alongside Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman and Angelina Jolie. The following year came the 3D animation phenomenon, "Monsters vs. Aliens." Rogen voiced B.O.B. and was joined by Paul Rudd, Rainn Wilson and the Academy Award®-winning actress, Reese Witherspoon. The film was released by DreamWorks Animation and has grossed nearly $370 million at the worldwide box office.
Other film credits for Rogen include "Horton Hears a Who!," "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," "Observe and Report" and "Funny People," opposite Adam Sandler.
Up next, Rogen will begin filming "Take This Waltz," with Sarah Silverman and Michelle Williams, directed by Sarah Polley.
Rogen currently resides in Los Angeles.
LUCY LIU (Viper) has had great critical and commercial success in film, television and on Broadway. Her latest film project, "The Man with the Iron Fists," directed by THE RZA, co-stars Russell Crowe and is slated for a 2012 release. Liu has three films currently in post production: "Detachment," directed by Tony Kaye and co-starring Adrien Brody, James Caan, and Marcia Gay Harden; "Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You," Roberto Faenza's adaptation of the novel by Peter Cameron; and "East Fifth Bliss," a comedy costarring Michael C. Hall and Peter Fonda.
Liu made her Broadway debut in March 2010, in the Tony Award-winning play "God of Carnage," starring as Annette in a cast that included Jeff Daniels, Dylan Baker and Janet McTeer. In January 2010 she made her directorial debut for the film adaptation of the best-selling novel "Half the Sky" by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Her debut as a producer, the critically acclaimed film "Freedom's Fury," premiered at The Tribeca Film Festival in 2006.
Some of Lucy's previous film credits include "Charlie's Angels," "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," "Kill Bill," "Chicago," "Code Name: The Cleaner," "Rise," "Watching the Detectives," "Domino," "Lucky Number Slevin," "3 Needles," "Shanghai Noon," "Payback," "Play It to the Bone," "Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever" and "The Year of Getting to Know Us."
On television, Lucy was nominated for the NAACP award for Outstanding Actress for her starring role in the December 2010 Lifetime Network romantic comedy, "Marry Me." Liu appeared as the unforgettable Ling Woo in the hit Fox series, "Ally McBeal," a role for which she earned an Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She has also appeared in starring roles on the hit series "Cashmere Mafia" and "Dirty Sexy Money," and has guest-starred on HBO's "Sex and the City," "Joey" and "Ugly Betty," and has lent her voice to such animated hits as "The Simpsons," "Futurama" and "King of the Hill."
A passionate human rights advocate, Lucy produced and narrated the powerful documentary "Redlight," which focuses on the plight of women and children sold into sexual slavery. The film premiered at The Woodstock Film Festival in 2009 and aired on Showtime in 2010. Liu has been a UNICEF ambassador since 2004 and has traveled to Lesotho, Pakistan, Cote D'Ivoire, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Cairo and Peru.
A native New Yorker, Liu graduated from Stuyvesant High School, attending NYU and later received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Michigan.
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, DAVID CROSS (Crane) made his way to Boston to study film at Emerson College, but quickly dropped out and started doing standup full time. He moved to Los Angeles to write on "The Ben Stiller Show," where he shared the posthumous Emmy (it was given after the show was canceled) with the show's other writers.
Continuing in the sketch tradition, he created (along with Bob Odenkirk) the groundbreaking show for HBO, "Mr. Show with Bob & David." The show ran for four years and garnered several Emmy nominations. He has also released two comedy CDs on the Subpop label, "Shut Up You F---ing Baby" and "It's Not Funny." "Shut Up...." was nominated for a Grammy Award. Both continue to sell exceptionally well and have garnered rave reviews. In 2010, David released the comedy special, "Bigger and Blackerer," along with a companion CD of the same name. Additionally, David's first book, I Drink For a Reason, was published in August 2009.
David has appeared in such films as "Men in Black" (both 1 & 2), "Waiting for Guffman," "Scary Movie 2," "Ghost World," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Curious George," "The Year One" and DreamWorks films "Megamind" and "Kung Fu Panda." David was also featured in Todd Haynes' rumination on the life of Bob Dylan, "I'm Not There." He recently wrapped filming on Fox's "Alvin & The Chipmunks 3" and appeared in the first "Alvin," as well as its sequel.
On the television side, David appeared in the Emmy Award-winning Fox Network comedy, "Arrested Development," as Tobias Funke, and recently completed an episodic arc on the Fox series, "Running Wilde." David produced and starred in the Comedy Central animated series "Freak Show," which was co created by David and Jon Benjamin. He also had a major recurring arc on Fox's "Running Wilde." Currently, David is working on the second season of "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret," which he created and stars in for IFC and Channel 4 in the UK.
With a career spanning nearly 60 years, JAMES HONG (Mr. Ping) has appeared in over 500 feature films and television shows. Starring in celebrated films such as "Blade Runner," "Chinatown" and the cult classic "Big Trouble in Little China," James has created countless iconic characters.
Most recently, this in-demand actor can be seen in "Safe," starring alongside action star Jason Statham and "The Day the Earth Stood Still."
Reprising his role as Kung Fu Panda's Mr. Ping, James recently won the Annie Award for his voice performance in "Kung Fu Panda Holiday."
As a veteran of both the big and small screens, James Hong has proven to be one of the world's most prolific actors. Early on, his talent caught the eye of Groucho Marx, who helped launch his career. James went on to work with legendary actors Clark Gable and Susan Hayward. It wasn't long before James began appearing in such unforgettable films as "Balls of Fury," "The Golden Child," "Black Widow," "Wayne's World 2," "The In-Laws," "Red Corner," "Mulan," "Airplane!," "The Two Jakes," "Revenge of the Nerds 2" and "Breathless."
James also made his mark in current and classic television hits, including "The West Wing," "The Big Bang Theory," "Chuck," "Bones," "The X-Files," "The Drew Carey Show," "The King of Queens," "Law & Order," "Malcolm in the Middle," "Friends," "Seinfeld," "Miami Vice," "The Rockford Files," "Charlie's Angels," "Taxi," "Dynasty," "The New Adventures of Wonder Woman," "Starsky & Hutch," " All in the Family," "Hawaii Five-O," "Mission: Impossible," "Bonanza" and "Dragnet," to name but a few.
Challenging roles still attract this hard-working actor, and James starred as the lead in an all-French speaking role, "The Idol."
Already a living legend in the Asian American community, James Hong co-founded The East-West Players, the first and oldest Asian American Theater group in Los Angeles, and served as the president and charter member of the Association of Asian Pacific American Artists.
Currently this Minnesota native and USC graduate lives in Los Angeles with his family. James can be found writing, producing, and directing his own independent films.
Nearly 20 years as a worldwide presence in major motion pictures, GARY OLDMAN (Lord Shen) is also known to millions as Sirius Black (Harry Potter's Godfather), Commissioner Jim Gordon (Batman's crime-fighting partner), Dracula, Beethoven, Lee Harvey Oswald, Joe Orton, Sid Vicious, and also the terrorist who hijacked Harrison Ford's "Air Force One." He also starred in Luc Besson's "The Professional" and "The Fifth Element," and also as Dr. Zachary Smith in "Lost in Space."
Highly regarded as one of foremost actors of his generation, and an internationally known iconic figure, he has the distinction of appearing in more successful films than any other artist spanning the past 18 years, and additionally has appeared in more than one of the Top Ten highest grossing films in history-- including not one, but both of the most successful film franchises in history.
Oldman is the recipient of the 2011 Empire Icon Award, awarded for a lifetime of outstanding achievement.
He has appeared in four of the Harry Potter films--"Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II"--and also appeared in both Batman films "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight"; he will also star in the upcoming "The Dark Knight Rises."
Currently he is creating another iconic character in the upcoming film version of John le Carre's "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," in the role of master spy George Smiley.
Starring with Denzel Washington in the recent hit film "The Book of Eli," his acting career began in 1979 where he worked exclusively in the theatre (in 1985 through 1989 working at London's Royal Court). His early BBC films were Mike Leigh's "Meantime" and "The Firm," by the late Alan Clark. Feature films, which immediately followed, were "Sid and Nancy," "Prick Up Your Ears" (directed by Stephen Frears), "Rosencrantz and Gildenstern Are Dead" (directed by Tom Stoppard), "State of Grace," "JFK" (directed by Oliver Stone), "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (directed by Francis Ford Coppola), "Romeo Is Bleeding," "True Romance" (directed by Tony Scott), "The Professional" (directed by Luc Besson), "Murder In the First," "Immortal Beloved" and "The Scarlet Letter" (directed by Roland Joffe).
In 1995, Oldman and manager/producing partner Douglas Urbanski formed a production company, which produced Oldman's directorial debut, the highly acclaimed "Nil By Mouth." The film won nine of seventeen major awards for which it was nominated. The film was selected to open the main competition for the 1997 50th Anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival, for which Kathy Burke won Best Actress. The same year Oldman won the prestigious Channel Four Director's Prize at the Edinburgh Film Festival, in addition to winning the British Academy Award (shared with Douglas Urbanski) for Best Film and also the BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay (which Oldman also penned).
In 2000, Oldman and Urbanski also produced the original film "The Contender," which also starred Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, Christian Slater and Sam Elliott; the film received two Academy Award® nominations.
During the past 18 years Oldman has appeared in a staggering ten films that have opened in the Number One box office position; the films in which he has appeared have a cumulative gross in the billions of dollars.
MICHELLE YEOH (Soothsayer), an internationally acclaimed actress and producer, has starred in over 20 films, including global hits James Bond's "Tomorrow Never Dies," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Memoirs of a Geisha," "Sunshine," "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" and "Babylon A.D." In her films, she has always challenged the traditional views of Asian women by creating very strong female roles.
In 1983, she graduated with a Bachelors in creative arts, in England. The same year, she was crowned Miss Malaysia and soon became Hong Kong's kung fu queen, known for performing her own stunts since her first action film, "Yes Madam."
Her performance in the period epic "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" earned her three nominations for best actress at the Taipei Golden Horse Awards, the Hong Kong Film Awards and the BAFTA Awards, in 2001. She was also named CineAsia's Award of Excellence in Acting for Outstanding Performance as an Actor in 1999 and the International Star of the Year at the 2001 ShoWest exhibitors' convention. In the same year, Michelle conferred the title of "Dato" by Malaysian state government.
In 2002, Michelle added another feather to her cap by producing and staring in "The Touch," a contemporary romantic action-adventure. In the same year, she was honored with Montblanc Arts Patronage Award in recognition of her achievement and commitment to nurture creative talents. Hence, she was named Producer of the Year by CineAsia and awarded The Outstanding Young Persons of the World by Junior Chamber International.
In 2004, she starred in sweeping romantic epic "Memoirs of a Geisha," based on the internationally acclaimed novel, produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Rob Marshall. In the following year, she starred in Danny Boyle's scifi thriller "Sunshine."
In October 2007, Michelle was conferred the honor of "Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur" by President of the Republic of France, in recognition of her contribution to the arts and cultural exchange between Asia and France.
In 2008, she starred in Hollywood blockbuster "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" and French director Mathieu Kassovitz's sci-fi action "Babylon A.D." Also, Michelle teamed up with her long-time friend and mentor Terence Chang and Taiwanese media personality David Tang to establish Stellar Entertainment, an Asian talent management company to nurture creative filmmakers and new talents.
In 2009, she was honored with Influential Chinese Award 2008, in recognition of her contribution and achievement in cinema in Beijing.
Last year, she starred in the action movie "Reign of Assassins," directed by Taiwanese director Su Chao-Pin and produced by John Woo, which was premiered at Venice Film Festival in September and released in Asia.
Presently, Michelle is starring in French director Luc Besson's "The Lady," which is about the Burmese democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Michelle served on the jury at the Berlin International Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival in 1999 and 2002, respectively. In 2009, Michelle became the first Jury President for the Third Asian Film Awards.
In addition to her film and charity activities, Michelle is international brand ambassadress for L'Oreal Paris (beauty products), Vertu (luxury mobile phones), Anlene (dairy products) and Richard Mille (luxury watches).
In 2009, Michelle took an artistic and openly expressive approach to the design of her own mobile phone with Frank Nuovo, Vertu Principal Designer. The edition has been available worldwide since May 2009. Also, she is designing a new watch with Richard Mille, which will be released in 2011.
Michelle has devoted a major part of her time to charitable and social endeavors. She is ambassador of amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research), Force of Nature, Hong Kong Cancer Fund, ICM (Institute for Cerebral and Medullary Disorders) and LoveFaithHope Charitable Foundation.
Michelle Yeoh is also the Global Ambassador for the Make Roads Safe campaign, raising awareness about a hidden epidemic that kills 260,000 children every year. She has undertaken fact-finding missions across the world, and is leading the campaign's call for a 'Decade of Action for Road Safety.'
In March 2010, she represented Malaysia to address the issues at the United Nation's General Assembly, and continues to urge for making road safety a priority over the next decade to save millions of lives and to prevent many millions of injuries and disabilities.
JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME (Master Croc) is best known for his martial arts action movies. His most successful films including "Bloodsport" (1988), "Kickboxer" (1989), "Double Impact" (1991), "Universal Soldier" (1992), "Hard Target" (1993), "Timecop" (1994) and "JCVD" (2008). Due to his physique and his Belgian background, he is known as "The Muscles from Brussels."
After studying martial arts intensively from the age of ten, Van Damme achieved national success in Belgium as a martial artist and bodybuilder, earning the "Mr. Belgium" bodybuilding title. He emigrated to the United States in 1982 to pursue a career in film. His breakout film was "Bloodsport," based on the alleged true story of Frank Dux. Shot on a 1.5 million dollar budget, it became a U.S. box office hit in the spring of 1988. He then starred in the smaller budgeted film "Cyborg." His last role for 1989 was Kurt Sloane in the successful "Kickboxer."
He then starred opposite Dolph Lundgren in the action film "Universal Soldier." While it grossed $36,299,898 in the U.S., it was an even bigger success overseas, making over $65 million, well over its modest $23 million budget, making it Van Damme's highest grossing film at the time.
Van Damme followed "Nowhere to Run" and "Hard Target" with "Timecop," in 1994. The film was a huge success, grossing over $100 million worldwide. It remains his highest grossing film to date.
He returned to mainstream with limited theatrical release of the critically acclaimed film "JCVD" in 2008. Time magazine named Van Damme's performance in the film the second best of the year (after Heath Ledger's Joker in "The Dark Knight"), having previously stated that Van Damme "deserves not a black belt, but an Oscar®."
In 2010, he produced, wrote, shot and starred in "The Eagle Path" and has recently wrapped "Dragon Eyes." Van Damme will make a return to fighting and is scheduled to fight former boxing Olympic gold-medalist Somluck Kamsing in April 2011. Various reports have named Las Vegas, USA, Moscow, Russia and Macau, China as locations for the bout. At the prospect of being the first man over the age of 50 to kickbox professionally, Van Damme stated that "it's kind of dangerous, but life is short."
Van Damme has a series of film projects warmed up for 2011, including another "Universal Soldier" movie, which will appear between 2011 and 2012, and the possibility to appear in the sequel to "The Expendables."
VICTOR GARBER (Master Thundering Rhino) is one of the most respected and talented actors of his generation. With six Emmy and four Tony nominations to his credit, he has been seen in some of the most memorable works of film, television and stage.
Recently, Garber portrayed San Francisco mayor George Moscone in Gus Van Sant's Academy Award®--nominated film "Milk." Additional film credits include "The First Wives Club," "Sleepless in Seattle," "Legally Blonde" and the Academy Award®-winning film, "Titanic."
For his work on television, Garber has been nominated for six Emmy Awards, including three for the ABC drama "Alias," two for comedic guest-star roles on "Frasier" and "Will & Grace," and a nomination for his portrayal of Sid Luft in the television movie "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows."
He most recently guest-starred on "Nurse Jackie" and "Glee" and starred in ABC's "Eli Stone." Other credits include Fox's "Justice," "Laughter on the 23rd Floor," "Meredith Willson's The Music Man," ABC's musical version of "Annie," and "The Wonderful World of Disney" film "Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella." Garber also appeared in the miniseries "Dieppe" and the TV movie "First Circle."
Garber's earned four Tony nominations for his work in "Damn Yankees," "Lend Me a Tenor," "Deathtrap" and "Little Me." He performed in the workshop of Sondheim's "Wiseguys" and in the Tony Award--winning play "Art."
His stage credits also include the original Broadway productions of "Arcadia," "The Devil's Disciple," "Noises Off" and "Sweeney Todd." Additionally, Garber garnered rave reviews in Sondheim's "Follies" for City Center Encores! and most recently, "Present Laughter," directed by Nicholas Martin at the Huntington Theatre. The latter production moved to Broadway in January 2010.
DENNIS HAYSBERT (Master Storming Ox) captured the attention of audiences and critics alike with his groundbreaking role as President David Palmer on FOX's hit series "24," for which he received his first Golden Globe nomination. He returned to television starring in his own series, "The Unit," for CBS, which premiered with record-breaking ratings. Last year Haysbert made his Broadway debut in David Mamet's "Race," alongside Eddie Izzard, Richard Thomas and Afton C. Williamson. The play tells the story of three lawyers in a firm, two black and one white, who must decide whether to defend a white man charged with a crime against a black woman. "Race" reunited Haysbert with Mamet, who created "The Unit." He just completed shooting the feature film "The Details," once again teamed up with Oscar®-nominated actress Laura Linney, along with Tobey Maguire, and Elizabeth Banks. And, of course, Haysbert is also known as the face and voice of Allstate Insurance.
In addition, he starred opposite Julianne Moore in Todd Haynes' critically acclaimed "Far From Heaven." His other film credits include Spike Lee's "Love and Basketball," opposite Omar Epps; "Absolute Power," opposite Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman; "Love Field," opposite Michelle Pfeiffer; "Breach," opposite Ryan Phillppe, Chris Cooper and Laura Linney; "Jarhead," directed by Sam Mendes; "Major League," as Pedro Cerrano; "Heat," with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro; "Random Hearts"; "What's Cooking"; "Waiting to Exhale"; "The Thirteenth Floor"; "Navy SEALS"; "Suture"; and opposite Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer in DreamWorks Animation's "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas." Haysbert also appeared on the small screen in the critically acclaimed CBS series "Now and Again."
Born and raised in Northern California, Haysbert's acting began when he won his first television role on the Emmy-winning episode of "Lou Grant," which co-starred Jesse Jackson. He is very active in the fight against AIDS and in the year 2000, he was the spokesperson for the Harlem Health Expo "Break the Silence." He is also the spokesperson for the National Leadership Commission on AIDS, as well as The Western Center on Law and Poverty. Dennis is also very proud to serve as the Global Ambassador for the Discovery Channel's Global Educational Partnership.
He currently resides in Los Angeles.
DANNY McBRIDE (Wolf Boss) is currently starring in HBO's second season of "Eastbound & Down," which he co-created, writes and executiveproduces with longtime friends and collaborators, Jody Hill and David Gordon Green. The show premiered on the network in February, 2010, and has since gained an enormous cult following. The second season premiered in September, after McBride's character Kenny Powers had escaped North Carolina to disappear and reinvent himself in Mexico.
McBride first gained industry awareness with his starring role in David Gordon Green's "All the Real Girls," winner of the 2003 Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. However, it was when he returned in 2006 to the Festival with the smash hit comedy "The Foot Fist Way" that he became a known name in Hollywood and desired by its top producers and directors. McBride, who starred and co-wrote the film with his fellow college classmates Hill ("Observe and Report") and Ben Best ("Superbad," season one of "Eastbound & Down"), caught the attention of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's Gary Sanchez Productions. Released in May 2009 by Paramount Vantage, the Los Angeles Times proclaimed the film "is the sort of nimble oddball discovery that one wishes would come along more often," while USA Today remarked that "'Foot Fist' is more original and comical than such low-budget sleeper hits as 'Napoleon Dynamite' and 'Hot Fuzz.'"
In 2008, McBride found continued success by starring opposite Seth Rogen and James Franco in "Pineapple Express." The film, which was directed by Green and co-written by Rogen and Evan Goldberg ("Superbad"), centers on two buddies who get mixed up with a drug gang. McBride was nominated for Best Newcomer for his role as Red by the members of the Detroit Film Critics Society. Sony Pictures released the film in August and opened Number One in the box office, reaching $100 million worldwide.
Immediately following the success of "Pineapple," McBride was back on top of the box office a week later with the Paramount release of "Tropic Thunder." Directed and written by Ben Stiller, the film was Number One for two weeks in a row and earned over $100 million domestically. McBride was joined by a starstudded cast including Stiller, Robert Downey, Jr., Jack Black, Tom Cruise and Matthew McConaughey.
McBride was seen in the Academy Award® nominated "Up in the Air," opposite George Clooney and Melanie Lynsky, and voiced Fred McDade in the 2010 animated summer blockbuster, "Despicable Me," which grossed over $280 million worldwide. McBride has also starred in such comedies as "Hot Rod," "The Heartbreak Kid," "Drillbit Taylor" and "Observe and Report." He was also seen in a cameo role in "Due Date," starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Zach Galifianakis.
Most recently, McBride was seen starring in "Your Highness," which he also co-wrote and produced. Starring James Franco, Natalie Portman and Zooey Deschanel, McBride plays Thadeous, a lazy, arrogant prince in Medieval times who must complete a quest with his heroic brother (Franco) in order to save their father's kingdom. In August, McBride is set to star in "30 Minutes or Less," opposite Jesse Eisenberg ("Adventureland"), Aziz Ansari ("Funny People"), and reuniting with Nick Swardson ("Pineapple Express"). The comedy centers around two criminals who kidnap a pizza delivery boy and force him to rob a bank within 30 minutes.
Born in Statesboro, Georgia, McBride grew up in Virginia. He attended the North Carolina School of the Arts, where he received a BFA in filmmaking. McBride currently resides in Los Angeles.
About the Filmmakers
JENNIFER YUH NELSON (Director) has lent her talents to four of DreamWorks Animation's motion pictures: 2008's "Kung Fu Panda" (as head of story), 2005's "Madagascar" (as story artist), 2003's "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas" (as head of story) and 2002's "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" (also as story artist). She is now sitting in the director's chair, helming "Kung Fu Panda 2."
Prior to joining DreamWorks Animation, Nelson worked at HBO Animation, developing various projects and short series. She has worn many hats, serving as director, story artist and character designer for HBO's animated series "Spawn," which won an Emmy Award in 1999 for Outstanding Animated Program.
Nelson's career in animation has spanned several countries, including Korea and Japan, where she oversaw animation for HBO. Nelson has also worked in Sydney, Australia, serving as a story artist and illustrator for the liveaction feature "Dark City" for Mystery Clock Productions.
Nelson attended California State University, Long Beach, where she received a BFA in illustration. Nelson has also published several independent comic books.
MELISSA COBB's (Producer) auspicious debut at DreamWorks Animation was serving as producer on the international blockbuster "Kung Fu Panda."
Cobb began her entertainment career producing a wide range of live theatrical projects, including the long-running hit "Greater Tuna" and two series of award-winning plays at the Edinburgh Arts Festival. She segued into feature film production for the independent company I.R.S. Media (first as director of development, then as vice president of production), where she oversaw all aspects of production and development of more than a dozen films, including Carl Franklin's acclaimed "One False Move," starring Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton.
Cobb next joined Walt Disney Pictures as a creative executive, later advancing to director of production, where she was responsible for discovering and developing live-action titles for the company, including "Blank Check," Steven Sommers' "The Jungle Book" and "Man of the House," starring Chevy Chase. After working as Senior VP of Production for the Fox Family Films independent shingle Blue Peach (where she worked to put the animated "Titan A.E." and the live-action Drew Barrymore hit "Ever After" into production), she joined 20th Century Fox Animation as Senior VP of Production; there she developed and supervised a slate of animated features for the company, including "Titan A.E." (starring Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman and John Leguizamo) and television's Emmy-nominated CGI special "Olive, the Other Reindeer," with Drew Barrymore.
Most recently, Cobb served as VP of Motion Pictures for Television at VH1, where she oversaw all development and physical production of all musicdriven films for the company. While there, she added multiple executive producer credits to her long resume, including on such titles as the Michael Jackson biopic "Family Values," the Andy Dick-hosted "Guilty Pleasures," the Mariel Hemingway and Jason Priestley film "Warning: Parental Advisory" and "They Shoot Divas, Don't They?", starring Jennifer Beals.
Cobb holds an MBA from Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA and a BS from Stanford University.
JONATHAN AIBEL & GLENN BERGER (Screenplay by / Co-Producers) are the writing team behind some of today's most beloved and popular family films. To date, their movies have grossed nearly $1.5 billion in worldwide box office.
Aibel and Berger met right out of college while working as management consultants in Boston. It was there they both discovered their passion for comedy writing and lack of passion for management consulting. So they threw away their suits and briefcases and moved to Los Angeles. Since then, Aibel and Berger have written some of the most successful family films of the past decade, and have positioned themselves as two of the most talented and respected comedy writers in the industry. They pride themselves on scripting films that appeal to audiences of all ages, with a combination of character-based comedy, action, and emotion.
Their script for the third installment of the highly successful "Alvin and the Chipmunks" franchise, "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked," is currently in production and set for release by 20th Century Fox on December 16, 2011. Other family film credits include "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" and DreamWorks Animation's first 3D film, "Monsters vs. Aliens."
In addition to their work in film, Aibel and Berger were part of the original staff of the animated FOX hit "King of the Hill." They remained at the show for six seasons, and rose to become executive producers, garnering four Emmy nominations and one win.
RAYMOND ZIBACH (Production Designer) returns as Production Designer on DreamWorks Animation's "Kung Fu Panda 2" after having served in the same capacity on the Academy Award®-nominated "Kung Fu Panda."
Zibach began his career in episodic television, working as a key background painter on a variety of animated series, including "Alvin & the Chipmunks," "Darkwing Duck," "Bonkers," "Marsupilami," "Schnookums and Meat Funny Cartoon Show," "Rocko's Modern Life," "The Ren & Stimpy Show" and "The Twisted Adventures of Felix the Cat," as well as the TV short, "Star Wars: Clone Wars."
Zibach segued into motion pictures as a background artist for the animated "Rover Dangerfield." He then worked as a background artist on "Aladdin and the King of Thieves" and "Space Jam." Zibach then joined DreamWorks Animation, working in visual development, and was the background department supervisor for "Road to El Dorado"; he was later made art director. He then served as production designer on "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas."
TANG K. HENG (Art Director) returns as art director on "Kung Fu Panda 2." Heng served in the same capacity on the Academy Award®-nominated "Kung Fu Panda."
Heng has worked for DreamWorks Animation since the studio released its first feature, serving as a background artist for "The Prince of Egypt," "The Road to El Dorado" and "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron." Heng later worked as a lead sequence designer on the international hit "Shark Tale" and as a visual development artist on "Over the Hedge."
Heng is a graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
HANS ZIMMER (Composer) has scored over 100 films and been honored with an Academy Award®, two Golden Globes, and three Grammys. In 2003, ASCAP presented him the prestigious Henry Mancini Award for Lifetime Achievement for his impressive and influential body of work.
Hans' interest in music began early, and after a move from Germany to the UK, would lead to playing with and producing various bands, including The Buggles, whose "Video Killed the Radio Star" was the first music video to ever appear on MTV. But the world of film music was what Hans really wanted to be involved with. Not long after meeting established film composer Stanley Myers, the two founded the London-based Lillie Yard Recording Studios together, collaborating on such films as "My Beautiful Laundrette."
It was Hans' solo work in 1988's "A World Apart," however, that gained the attention of director Barry Levinson, who then asked Hans to score "Rain Man," Hans' first American film. Levinson's instinct was right -- the score's Oscar® nomination that followed would be the first of eight.
With Hans' subsequent move to Hollywood, he expanded the range of genres he explored, and his first venture into the world of animation, 1994's "The Lion King," brought Hans the Oscar®.
Hans' career has been marked by a unique ability to adeptly move between genres -- between smaller films and comedies (such as "Driving Miss Daisy," "Green Card," "True Romance," "As Good As It Gets" and "Something's Gotta Give") and big blockbusters (including "Crimson Tide," "Mission: Impossible 2," "Hannibal," "Black Hawk Down," "The Last Samurai," "The Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy, "Batman Begins" and "The Da Vinci Code").
In the middle of Hans' unparalleled pace of taking on new projects, his ability to re-invent genres is what is perhaps most striking. The film scores Hans has done this for speak for themselves, whether it has been for drama in "Rain Man," action in Ridley Scott's "Black Rain," historical in "Gladiator," war in Terrence Malick's "The Thin Red Line," or the dark comic book world of "The Dark Knight."
Hans has received a total of 10 Golden Globe nominations, 10 Grammy nominations, and 9 Oscar® nominations, the most recent for Christopher Nolan's "Inception." His innovative and powerful score has been praised as the Best Score of 2010 by countless critics' groups and has earned him BAFTA, Golden Globe, Grammy and Critics Choice Award nominations.
His other Oscar® nominations include "Sherlock Holmes," "Rain Man," "Gladiator," "The Lion King," "As Good As It Gets," "The Preacher's Wife," "The Thin Red Line" and "The Prince of Egypt." Hans has been honored with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award in Film Composition from the National Board of Review. He also received his Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in December 2010.
His recent films include "Rango," "Megamind," "How Do You Know," Nancy Meyer's "It's Complicated," "Kung Fu Panda," "Madagascar 2," "Frost / Nixon," "The Dark Knight" and Ron Howard's "Angels & Demons." Hans' upcoming films include "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," directed by Rob Marshall; Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" (December 2011); and "The Dark Knight Rises" (July 20, 2012), which will mark Hans' fourth collaboration with director Christopher Nolan.
British-born JOHN POWELL's (Composer) list of film credits exemplifies his ability to transcend genre. Since moving to the United States 13 years ago, he has demonstrated his unique talent by scoring over 50 feature films. His versatile talent can be heard in animated films, comedies, action films and dramas.
Powell's ability to compose in a variety of genres stems from the wide array of styles present in his early musical studies. By the time he reached his late-teens, he had already been exposed to soul, jazz, rock and world music as well as having a deep classical music background from the age of seven courtesy of his Father, a musician in Sir Thomas Beecham's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. In 1982, he began studies in Composition at London's Trinity College of Music. During his time there, his skill was recognized with both the John Halford and the Boosey and Hawkes Bursary Music College Prizes.
While at Trinity, Powell studied composition, percussion, electronic music, and experimented within the new medium of performance art. He joined the group Media Arts, and with longtime collaborator Gavin Greenaway, composed music and sound for the group's performances. Although the group disbanded, Powell and Greenway continued to create many mixed-media installation pieces with artist Michael Petry in the following years.
Powell first foray into professional composing came soon thereafter, when he landed a job writing music for commercials and television at London's Air-Edel Music. There, he met other composers including other Air-Edel alumni, Hans Zimmer and Patrick Doyle.
Later, with Greenaway, the two co-founded London-based commercial music house Independently Thinking Music (ITM), where they collaborated on more than 100 scores for commercials and independent films.
Powell shifted his focus away from commercials to longer form composition with the opera "An Englishman, Irishman and Frenchman," also cocreated with Greenaway and Petry. After a series of successful performances at the Germany state-funded art gallery, Powell moved to Los Angeles to take on more film projects.
Arriving in the States in 1997, he immediately scored two DreamWorks TV projects: the second season of Steven Spielberg's "High Incident" and the pilot "For the People." He also arranged songs composed by Stephen Schwartz for DreamWorks' animated feature "Prince of Egypt" (1998).
It was Powell's hair-raising score for John Woo's Nicolas Cage/John Travolta blockbuster "Face/Off" that garnered critical acclaim. He composed one hour and forty-five minutes of riveting music, which utilized unresolved harmonies, tragic melodies and thundering percussion to build a heightened state of tension.
Powell was catapulted into the realm of A-list composers by displaying an entirely original voice with his oft-referenced scores to the trilogy of "Bourne Identity," "Bourne Supremacy," and "Bourne Ultimatum." He most recently illustrated his ability to reinvent his style with his unique score to "How to Train your Dragon" for which he received an Oscar nomination.
He has since scored a wide variety of films in different genres, including animated hits "Antz," "Chicken Run," "Robots," "Shrek," "Ice Age: The Meltdown," "Happy Feet," "Horton Hears a Who," "Kung Fu Panda," "Bolt," and "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs," in addition to the actioners "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," "The Italian Job," "Hancock," and the dramatic thrillers "United 93," "Green Zone," and "Fair Game." His interest in musical diversity continued in the creation of scores for "Drumline", "I am Sam," and "Alfie," with Dave Stewart and Mick Jagger. He has also scored the superhero blockbuster "X-Men: The Last Stand," "Stop Loss," "P.S. I Love You," and "Jumper" directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity).
John Powell is the recipient of two Ivor Novello Award nominations for "Best Original Film Score" from the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters for "Shrek" in 2001, " Ice Age: The Meltdown" in 2006, and a win for "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" in 2010. He was nominated for a Grammy in 2008 for his work on "Happy Feet."
John Powell lives with his wife Melinda and son in Los Angeles, CA.
RUDOLPHE GUENODEN (Supervising Animator / Fight Choreographer) has been with DreamWorks Animation since the studio's inception, working on such films as "The Prince of Egypt," "The Road to El Dorado," "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas," "Madagascar" and "Over the Hedge."
Prior to joining DreamWorks Animation, Guenoden worked at Amblimation as a supervising animator and story artist on "Balto." He also worked as a senior snimator on "We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story" and as an animator on "An American Tail: Fievel Goes West."
Hailing from Noyon, France, Guenoden attended C.F.T. Gobelins in Paris, France.
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