John Cohen Interview
by Myla Tosatto
My glorious morning continued after interviewing Jason Sudeikis and Rachel Bloom when I, along with four other women, interviewed John Cohen, producer of The Angry Birds Movie 2. After the greetings, the questions and answers started flying! John is a fabulous and funny man. He was a joy to visit with. And of course, we had to talk about the BIG NEWS of the day- Nicki Minaj! I’m pretty sure the internet was broken the night before when it was revealed that she would be playing Pinky in The Angry Birds Movie 2! (Interview edited for clarity.) This post is sponsored. We were invited on an all expense paid trip to promote the movie. All opinions and experiences are our own. This post also contains affiliate links.
John Cohen Interview for The Angry Birds Movie 2
John Cohen was asked about how he assembled the fabulous and funny cast of The Angry Birds Movie 2.
John: I would say first and foremost, we are so lucky and honored to have this incredible cast. You develop characters and you start to work on it and you think about more who would be the perfect person to bring these characters to life. And you know, for me, I think it’s always important and helpful when you have people who are great improvisational comedians because not only are they funny, but they are all writers. They bring so much to their characters in their ad libbing and in their improv, and that elevates the movie and elevates their lines in everything that they do. But to be able to have Leslie Jones and Awkwafina and Jason Sudeikis and Rachel Bloom and Bill Hader and all these people- Tiffany Haddish- you just sit at these sessions and they’re behind a microphone and we’re sitting there just laughing so hard. It’s like a one person kind of a comedy show that you get to watch. So we’re really lucky to have them. They’re awesome.
He was then asked if roles were made especially for the actors (especially in the case of Nicki Minaj and the big reveal of her name being Pinky).
John: We actually recorded her at her house, so that was awesome. That was really fun. But we came up with the name with her. She wanted to pick a name and then we talked about some ideas and . . . She’s amazing. She is an amazing actor. And that’s something that I think that people maybe don’t realize is that she does so many voices on all of her albums. She creates characters. Yeah. She is a wonderful, wonderful actor. Her abilities go so beyond music and it was just a real treat to get to work with her.
He was asked about how the incredible soundtrack came to be and how specific songs were chosen.
John: I don’t think there’s even an easy answer for it because it is such a long process over the course of making the movie. And a lot of times we’ll use a song specifically just for comedy purposes. So when you hear, you know, ‘I Don’t Want to Wait’ from the Dawson’s Creek theme, you know? Yeah. Or ‘Axel F’ from Beverly Hills Cop, ‘All By Myself’. . . ? Sometimes you just find the perfect song. We have ‘I Need a Hero’, we have ’Happy Together’. I think songs have the ability, in movies and soundtracks especially, to not only make you laugh because of the connotation, because of what you remember -Sarah Mclachlan’s song we use in the movie- but also I think they make you feel something because you immediately have all of this built in lifetime of a connection and relationship to a song. I get excited when I hear a good song come on the radio or in a movie. And so it’s a process where we try a lot of different ones out and ultimately after screening the movie for so many audiences and families and kids, you see which ones worked the best.
He was asked about all of the old school hits in the movie and if they were chosen for the kids viewing the movie or for the parents.
John: It is for the parents. And you know, it’s for all of us who are making the movie who are parents, but it’s surprising to me how many of these songs kids actually know. I went to a little school dance at my daughter’s school with her a month and a half ago and they had a dance floor and they were playing ‘Turndown for What’. This is crazy. It is clearly on the playlist. So I got on my phone, I was videotaping this little dance floor to prove to everyone that they actually did this. I think they know a lot more than even we think they know.
He had this to say about Rachel Bloom’s character, Silver, and her role model status.
John: When you start out to develop a sequel, we wanted to have a bunch of great new characters and as we were developing Silver, I mean we all just fell in love with the character. Especially as Rachel Bloom brought her to life in such a brilliant way and truly added so much of herself and her own writing. She came in and had done writing so many times and her improvisation. So the character came to life in a way that was just extraordinary for all of us on the filmmaking team. When we were bringing her character to life, who is Chuck’s sister, and Chuck, the Josh Gag character, who moves super fast, everything about him is fast. We said, well, you know what, she’s going to share some of his DNA. So how is she like him and how is she different than him? And so while Chuck moves very fast physically, she thinks very fast. And that became for us one of the defining characteristics of her as a character. But we did really just want to have a character that was a great role model for girls and for boys. We had a wonderful reaction at one of our audience screenings, back a few months ago where there was a little boy in the focus group. Afterwards when they go round and they say, ‘who are your favorite characters?’ This, this, this, and this boy said ’I love Silver because she’s me as a girl’. I thought that was just such an interesting way of seeing that and relating to that. And it was adorable. I think the fact that Silver is connecting so much with girls is amazing- my daughter is already wearing her hair in pigtails -but with boys, too. A big part of that is I would quickly say thanks to the character design from our character designer Francesca Natale. She created this amazing, amazing . . . look at her (refers to a picture of Silver). And also Rachel’s performance.