Justin Timberlake is, without question, one of the most talented people on the planet. He can sing like an angel, dance like his middle name is "Thriller," is rivaled only by Alec Baldwin as the best "SNL" host in recent memory, and an Oscar nod for his turn in "The Social Network" is almost a foregone conclusion.
His new film, "Yogi Bear," an 3D film adaption of the beloved Hanna-Barbera cartoon that mixes animation and live action, is—shall we say—an unexpected choice, especially on the heels of a role that's earning his serious critical acclaim, but Timberlake took his preparation quite seriously.
At the press day for the movie, which Timberlake attended on crutches after injuring himself on the set of his current project, "Now," (he joked it was sustained by "kickin' ass") Timberlake explained his process to nail 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," Timberlake began. "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 rerecord everything we'd done in the first half hour because you just get in the pocket of the tone and inflection. Wow, I'm really killing any sort of coolness I had before I got here," he laughs.
"At the risk of ruining my social life, funny enough, I kind of learned how to sing when I was a kid imitating singers on the radio; Al Green and Michael Jackson and Don Henley. But also, I was an only child and obviously really bored. I would entertain my parents by imitating Scooby Doo and Boo-Boo, all the cartoon voices."
Having grown up watching the cartoons, we asked Timberlake what touchstones he wanted to make sure he brought to his performance.
"I wanted to sort of [conjure] Buster Keaton, if I may, to offset the bigness and brashness and almost absurdity of Yogi that [Dan Aykroyd] was able to find and so hilariously portray. It was sort of a Laurel and Hardy type of thing."
"Yogi Bear" opens December 17.