Aaron Blabey and Pierre Perifel Talk “The Bad Guys.” Their new DreamWorks Film.

Based on the New York Times best-selling book series by Aaron Blabey, directed by Pierre Perifel (animator of the Kung Fu Panda films), The Bad Guys, DreamWorks Animation new heist caper comedy will hit theaters on April 22nd. A hilarious animation about bad guys pretending to go good starring Academy Award winner Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron (Netflix’s GLOW), Anthony Ramos (In the Heights), Craig Robinson (Hot Tub Time Machine franchise), and AWKWAFINA (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Tzen rings), will steal your heart as the charming group learns the value of sharing the spoils of a good deed—but not before the villainous team makes doing good look oh-so bad! We had the pleasure of chatting with Aaron Blabey author of The book series, and Pierre Perifel the film’s director, to get a closer look behind a future classic.

LINK2US: Can you tell us the inspiration behind the story?

Aaron Blabey: Absolutely. I have two boys and the six year old was bringing home books from school so boring they would make him cry. I wanted to write him a genuinely exciting book. So I thought, ‘I gotta do something about this, or this kid isn’t going to read a book as long as he lives.’ So I was thinking to myself, about characters that were being judged by the way they look, and at the time he was into scary animals. I sort of put those two things together and put it through the filter of all the movies that I love, and then sort of stirred it up in a pot and there was ‘The Bad Guys.’

L2U: What made you gravitate toward this particular story?

Pierre Perifel: I arrived at this venture much later, (about three and a half years ago), and discovered that the studio had purchased the rights to the book. This was the first one that I stumbled upon and it really clicked for me. It was immediate you know! There was just this big concept behind it. And so when I open the book and the big bad wolf is talking to you and saying, ‘I’m gonna be good,’ and ‘Guys, we’re going to change and become good guys.’ To me, the five animals on that cover, clearly scary animals wearing suits, brought to mind films by Scorsese, Tarantino, and Soderbergh. It was all like this Mission Impossible stuff.
It was so obvious it would be a movie with a deep message, like a massive idea of bad animals that want to go good but are really bad at it. And so it was fun because I could pay homage to all the film genres I have ever loved. It was a no-brainer. I started developing it, and a few weeks later started talking to Aaron…We started chatting, and the guy is pretty cool so we kept on going.

L2U: Choosing to do right from wrong, and being a good influence are some of the things Mr. Fox (played by Sam Rockwell) tackles, but he gets in trouble anyway. What can you say about the significance of simply trying to do better?

AB: In the books just like in the movie, Mr. Snake (who is my favorite character) struggles as we all do. During the writing process I thought to myself, ‘What a cool thing to do and start writing about for kids to really learn early, that a character isn’t all bad and isn’t all good, but like we are, they are also complicated.’ There is stuff that we all go through in life and hopefully, we learn enough things along the way to become a good person or a good snake as in this case. And that’s one of the loveliest things about creating the series. I got to talk about something that’s kind of important, and do it in a really fun way.

Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz) in DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys, directed by Pierre Perifel.

L2U: Sharing the spoils of a good deed was a motivation that I thought fit with Fox Foxington’s character when she turned her back on crime. Did this come about in the adaptation of the character? Or was it derived from the book?

PP: In Foxington’s case, (because this is an important moment in the movie), you realize she’s much deeper than expected and that she has had the same past (as Mr. Wolf) in a way. For Mr. Wolf, it never clicked that someone else could have experienced the same trouble he and the whole gang had. As we uncovered a bit of Foxington’s story [in the film], I considered, ‘Oh yeah, of course, there is a story behind everyone,’ but everyone has their own story and this one was so present and strong.
[In the end, audiences realize] Foxington is in the same category as the rest of the gang, but she transcended it and is more evolved, and is much farther ahead on her personal journey. For Wolf, again, this brings a bit of a conflict. The idea of knowing that there is a way to get out of his own circumstances and that through his change, he is abel to change everybody around him.

By Joshua Manigault

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