‘Panda’ sequel’s adoption theme resonates with Jolie
Angelina, who voices the character Tigress, arrived with Jack Black (Po), Gary Oldman (Lord Shen), director Jennifer Yuh Nelson and DreamWorks’ big boss Jeffrey Katzenberg. Prior to the press con, parts of “Panda 2” in 3D were screened for the reporters.
Explaining how she loves the film’s theme of adoption, Angelina said people are not defined by “the way we look or where we are from.”
The Oscar and Golden Globe winning actress pointed out the film will reveal how a panda like Po came to be raised by a goose. “My character was also raised in an orphanage,” she added.
Jennifer said: “It was an emotional scene when Po finds out a lot about himself. It made me cry when I watched it. I ran out of tears.”
A host of international stars makes up the rest of the sequel’s cast: Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Lucy Liu, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Seth Rogen, Dustin Hoffman, James Hong, Dennis Haysbert and Victor Garber. “These are the best actors,” Jennifer said. “It is just insane. It is really an honor and fun to work with this caliber of talent.”
The presence of Jack Black (with his droll quips) at the press con brought out Angelina’s playful side. Her eyes widened in amusement and she broke into chuckles over Jack’s verbal and visual antics. She reveled in his impromptu kung fu moves. Asked a question in Chinese, Jack answered “Yes!” even before the query was translated in English.
Angelina said husband Brad Pitt and the kids have seen the movie. “It has all those things that the kids love,” she said. “My children laughed out loud. I called Jeffrey and told him, ‘We are good.’ My family was the test audience.”
Of her character, she said: “Tigress has kind of an attitude toward her friend Po. She’s a fighter, no question about it but reluctantly, she has become softer. I love it that she has become soft and hugs the panda.”
When a reporter asked Jack and Angelina if they’ve found inner peace, which is also a theme of the movie, Angelina turned to Gary. With a wide grin, she teased: “So you mean Gary has no inner peace?”
Angelina continued: “I don’t know if I’ve found inner peace. But when you wake up in the morning and your children are happy and healthy, then you have peace. That is all that you should be worried about. Then you work on other things that you worry about, like injustices. You start with one simple thing that you are happy and grateful about.”
For his part, Jack answered with a wry, “Yeah.” Then he quipped: “I only have fleeting moments of inner peace. Like, okay, now it is gone. After a really good workout with my trainer at the gym, I usually have a few minutes of inner peace in the shower. I’m still searching for my inner peace.”
Gary, who has three sons, said: “It’s interesting what Angelina said. I have been remarried for the past couple of years. I was a single dad for 10 years. And look at those boys—how great they are. They are my greatest accomplishment. I got something right. It gives me a sense of great joy. I am at peace with that. It helps me sleep at night.”
Since “Panda 2” features a hero and a villain in Jack and Gary, respectively, Angelina was asked what kind of a hero we need in these times.
“Maybe we need to be together more and be a collective hero,” she said. “We need to get together more between our countries and religions.”
‘Po is my hero’
“In the movie, Po is my hero,” she said. Jack, who portrays Po, the movie’s butt-kicking protagonist, claimed that he’s not a fighter, but a pacifist, in real life. “I got into one fight when I was a kid and I’ve never fought again,” the comedian said. “We are a people of peace. We only do butt kicking in movies.”
He explained that his opponent was a bully and was picking a fight with him.
“I didn’t want to fight but I had to in self defense,” Jack added. “And I did win the fight.” Turning mock serious, Jack said, “I felt guilty because I knew he was hurting inside. His need to fight was sort of sad.”
Then Jack deadpanned: “I hope he’ s okay now … But make no mistake—these hands are registered weapons.”
Asked about the state of animation today, Angelina replied: “With the children, we watch animation from around the world— Miyazaki, French animation. They love all the DreamWorks movies. At its best, animation can be fun, entertaining and beautiful. Some are just good for laughs. But when it’s great, it’s really great. Some of the best films today are actually done in animation.”
Jeffrey added: “Jennifer offers kick-butt animation but with much heart in the storytelling. The other side is the technology which continues to accelerate. Today you saw state-of-the-art 3D. If last year, ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ established what can be done in CGI animation in 3D, today you saw what we are doing beyond that.”
As for more sequels to the “Panda” series, and what’s in store for Po and Tigress, Angelina said, laughing: “Jack and I don’t know. We might get married in another sequel. We might have little tiger panda babies. I am up for wherever the story goes.”
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