BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — For the follow-up to his 2006 Oscar-winning “Happy Feet,” director/producer/co-writer George Miller once again took the unusual approach of bringing his actors together to lend their voices to animated penguins, elephant seals, krill and more.
With “Happy Feet Two,” the filmmaker put two top-notch voice-over performers — the versatile “Aladdin's” genie of many personalities Robin Williams, who reprises his dual roles as small but macho Adelie penguin Ramon and charismatic Rockhopper penguin guru Lovelace, and the resourceful multi-accented actor behind many of the “The Simpsons” characters Hank Azaria, who joins the sequel as a mysterious and mesmeric avian newcomer named the Mighty Sven — into the same recording studio and let them improvise until they sweated through their shirts.
So, did the quick-witted men of many voices ever engage in a voice-off, and if so, who won?
“That sounds, like, pretty sexual. ‘We're gonna voice-off right now,'” Williams joked at a recent news conference at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, suddenly switching from a sultry voice to a WrestleMania announcer-type shout. “Bring it! Be there, 400 voices no waiting.”
“You're going down!” Azaria countered in a deep, masculine tone.
“You're going down Sunday! Castilians only! Be there, watch them go at it one on one,” Williams replied, ending with a hail of rapid-fire Spanish babble, then adding with a chuckle, “No.”
“Yeah, no,” Azaria added. “I'd be much too terrified of anything like that.”
“Me, too. That'd be too crazy,” Williams said. “No, I just sit back and just watch 'cause he's done so many amazing things. I just go ‘Yeah!' It's like musicians riffing with each other. It's not as much like ‘Well, I'll top that,' but it is that thing of like just watching and going ‘Wow!'
“You just build on each other. It's a riff. It's like jazz. And when you have someone as funny as he is ... it's great. It's fun.”
In the sequel, tap-dancing Emperor penguin Mumble (Elijah Wood) has grown from an awkward nonconformist to a leader in his colony, which now embraces both dancing and singing as desirable forms of expression. Mumble and his big-voiced sweetie Gloria (pop star Pink) now are parents of a bashful boy named Erik (Ava Acres).