Matthew Broderick has been in several animated films, including the all time great The Lion King and the recent hit Bee Movie. He's aware that such films are usually made with suggestive references to keep the parents entertained. His latest, The Tale of Despereaux, is purely for the kids.
Matthew Broderick on The Tale of Despereaux
"There's usually sly adult references in the middle of a kid's movie and this doesn't have those," Broderick said. "It really takes itself [seriously]. It creates its own world and sticks with it and doesn't wink and say we know we're only kidding."
Despereaux is a mouse with no fear. That makes him an outcast amongst the schoolmice dutifully learning how to cower. " I thought it was a very interesting character and I certainly related to it although I am aware that there are things that are very dangerous, but he isn't. He just is never daunted but he's not arrogant. He just sort of sees the world differently than his little friends, though they're bigger than him but they are little. To us they would seem little. And [writer/producer] Gary [Ross] also talked at great length. We spoke on the phone and he had taken the character very seriously. I don't mean serious like serious but he had thought it out."
Us children of the '80s may forever see Broderick as teenaged Ferris Bueller, but he's become aware that that was 20 years ago. "I guess at one point I remember saying, 'I'm so old for that,' but he would say, 'Well, not in a cartoon, you don't have to be.' So it was also sort of about being that age when things seem kind of black and white and there's bravery and cowardice. There was something about the age that Despereaux is that was a clue."
It also helped that there was a children's book it was based on, and a narrator describing Despereaux along the way. "I didn’t know I was small and I'm a gentleman. That seemed to mean something. Not scared of knives. I like cheese, I know that. We all discussed it pretty, pretty, pretty carefully and tried to take this story seriously actually. We tried to take the situations that I was in very seriously."
The Tale of Despereaux opens to theaters on December 19th.