From the cast to the tunes, 15 facts you didn't know about Despicable Me
As Gru and his Minions return for a third outing in the series, Susan Griffin asks members of the cast, including lead actor Steve Carell, and the film-makers about how they make the acclaimed animation.
Seven years after super-villain Gru and his Minions first appeared on the big screen, the third movie in the franchise has hit cinemas to great acclaim.
Chris Meledandri, the founder of Illumination, the studio behind the Despicable Me franchise, as well as the Minions spin-off, The Secret Life Of Pets and Sing, says the key to success is its pitch-perfect tone.
"While on the one hand they're broad, funny and fun, there's also an emotional resonance that runs through their centre," explains the Academy Award nominee.
This time, Gru meets a twin brother he never knew existed, comes up against a villain who's obsessed with the Eighties, faces a revolt from the Minions and tackles life without a job.
"In the first movie, Gru discovered what it's like to be a parent and what unconditional love is. In the second, we explored Gru falling in love," explains Meledandri. "Now, we start off with Gru having an identity crisis because he finds himself fired from his job, as well as discovering a new-found sibling rivalry."
To celebrate the return of Gru and his crew, we go behind the scenes to bring you some facts about the film.
1. Carell, who's played Gru since 2010's Despicable Me, jumped at the chance to play his twin brother, Dru. "I thought that was fun, to play an identical twin of Gru, and then they just said, 'Whatever you want to do with the voice, we'll work on it together'," says the actor.
2. Dru's voice reportedly emerged from a moment when Carell was messing about in the studio. "It grew from a laugh in the middle of the recording session," recalls editor Claire Dodgson. "I was able to play it back to the directors and Steve and say, 'There's something here' ... it was the perfect foil to Gru, just this internal joy."
3. Carell was shown images and illustrations of Dru to help form his voice. "It was sort of a natural extension because Gru is so dour and cynical and I thought his brother with the long, flowing blond hair and this big smile on his face would be really excited all the time," he says.
4. There are many scenes in which Gru and Dru appear together, so Carell would record all the lines as Gru first, then start from the top of the scene as Dru "to give a separate feeling to them", reveals co-director Kyle Balda. "It was fascinating to watch him go back and forth."
5. Trey Parker was chosen to bring the villainous Balthazar Bratt, a former Eighties child star who's seeking revenge on the audience who rejected him, to life. An animator and co-creator of South Park, this movie marks the first time he's been directed by anyone but himself.
6. Kristen Wiig reprises the role of Lucy, who used to work for the Anti-Villain League and married Gru in the last film. She doesn't think her animated alter-ego is set to show her bad side any time soon. "No, I don't think she's got it in her at all," she says. "I think she's that girl at school that told on everybody. I think she's just straight and narrow. She likes to follow the rules, but she has a good time with it. She's not in a bad mood about it. She's overly positive and loves to be right and the do-gooder."
7. Miranda Cosgrove, who returns as Margo, the eldest of Gru's adopted children, was 13 when she began work on Despicable Me. She's now 24.
8. The UK contingent is out in force again, with both Julie Andrews and Steve Coogan reprising their roles as Gru's mother and Silas Ramsbottom, the head of the Anti-Villain League. Coogan also lends his vocal talents to Dru's butler, Fritz.
9. Co-director Pierre Coffin once again voices the lovable Minions and is the man behind the Gilbert And Sullivan musical sequence during the talent competition. "When we first saw this storyboarded vision and Pierre had recorded all the voices, it was one of the funniest things I've seen," says co-writer Cinco Paul. "I'm so excited for people to see this scene in the movie."
10. The Despicable Me franchise is inspired by the physical comedy of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Peter Sellers and Rowan Atkinson.
11. Every six to eight weeks during the latter stages of production, the team would watch the film in its entirety. "After those screenings, we would look at a scene and discuss if it was connecting emotionally with us, supporting other stories, or keeping the tension going ... or if it slowed the movie down," reveals Claire Dodgson. "Everything was up for grabs to make sure it was all working the best it could."
12. Dru has a mane of blond hair, much to the annoyance of his brother, Gru. Co-director Eric Guillon admits it was a challenge to create a haircut on a head that doesn't have a forehead. "I came up with the idea of a part in the middle, (and) longish hair - a bit cheesy, but it gives Dru a teen look," he says.
13. The creative team gave characters little details that, as Meledandri puts it, "sneak up on you emotionally". One example is Balthazar Bratt's bald spot which was "to make him look older and to demonstrate a sign of weakness and vulnerability, while his moustache strengthens his personality and supports his expressions", says Guillon.
14. The look of Minion Mel, who leads the revolt against Gru, is actually inspired by Meledandri. "I designed a birthday card for Chris a few years ago," explains Guillon. "I drew Chris as a Minion and used the same design and haircut for Mel that I used on the card."
15. The music is the combination of a score from composer Heitor Pereira and multiple Grammy Award-winner Pharrell Williams. They have collaborated on each of the Despicable Me movies.
- Despicable Me 3 is in cinemas now