Justin Timberlake is quickly learning that to properly express how he feels about his turn as soft-spoken sidekick Boo Boo in the new Yogi Bear movie, he’ll have to let his nerd flag fly.
“At the risk of ruining my social life,” he begins cautiously, “I would entertain my parents by imitating Scooby Doo and Boo Boo – all the cartoon voices. You know that about me now, which is weird.”
After impressing critics earlier this year in The Social Network, Timberlake was happy to take on something a little simpler.
“I did a film about the birth of social networking, and it drove me crazy even being a part of that movie,” he says. “It’s way beyond my brain span.”
The combination of live action and animation in Yogi Bear means Timberlake’s job was all in the recording studio, and it hasn’t escaped him that he and Dan Aykroyd, who voices Yogi, had the easier job in the film, compared to his flesh-and-blood co-stars.
“Anna (Faris) and Tom (Cavanagh), they had way harder jobs than we did,” he says. “I’ve never worked in that way where you’re looking at tennis balls or leaves as reference points.”
The key to nailing Yogi and Boo Boo’s chemistry was to go against the traditional process for animated films, in which the actors come in one by one to record their parts. Instead, Timberlake and Aykroyd worked together.
“We had two or three sessions together because we really did see this as a Batman and Robin — if you will — sort of duo,” Timberlake says. “It really made a difference with the rhythm of the banter between Yogi and Boo Boo. It was a very cool collaboration. We had a lot of fun doing it.”
But while his job consisted of hanging out in a recording studio goofing off with Aykroyd, there was still actual work to be done.
“Getting the voice of Boo Boo, I had someone on hand with the old ’60s and ’70s cartoons and I would sit there and listen to it in between takes and before we would start our sessions,” he says. “It would take me 15 to 20 minutes to really get — this is all really boring, geeky vocal stuff — but to get your palate to the right level of the character. So after the first 20 minutes, I would go back and re-record everything we’d done in the first half hour because you just get in the pocket of the tone and inflection.”
Timberlake stops, shaking his head. “I’m really killing any sort of coolness I had before I got here,” he says.