Hugh grants Misfit a perfect fit
British favourite Hugh Grant never saw himself as a pirate, writes Caris Bizzaca
HUGH Grant says he didn’t grow a beard or learn to swashbuckle during his preparations to voice the Pirate Captain character in The Pirates! Band of Misfits.
Instead, he jokes about going a bit more radical.
‘‘I went to Somalia and I captured an oil tanker,’’ the British actor deadpans.
‘‘It was nice. I just don’t know what to do with it now.’’
The Love Actually star travelled to Australia for the premiere of The Pirates! Band of Misfits, which marks his first foray into animation – a world where he quickly learned typecasting doesn’t really exist. Having become known for playing foppish Englishmen in romantic comedies, Grant says it came as a surprise when animation house Aardman, which made Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit, asked him to play a claymation pirate.
‘‘Especially when I saw the character they created, this little model,’’ he says.
‘‘I thought, ‘well I’m not at all like him. This is a terrible piece of casting’. But in the end it was a challenge . . . and I don’t normally challenge myself to anything, but I quite enjoyed trying to find the voice to fit him.’’
Grant’s dapper English accent is not one typically associated with pirates, but he says in this case it works because the guys at Aardman didn’t want your average ‘‘Argh me hearties!’’ type voice.
After all, Grant’s Pirate Captain isn’t your average villain of the high seas. In The Pirates! Band of Misfits, the Pirate Captain is enthusiastic, leads a loyal ragtag crew and sports a luxurious beard, but he’s a terrible plunderer whose pathetic pirating means he’s yet to win the Pirate of the Year award.
Since it’s a prize given to the pirate who steals the most loot, it usually goes to rivals Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) or Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek).
Written by Gideon Defoe, nothing appears to be sacred as The Pirates! Band of Misfits gleefully pokes fun at everything from Charles Darwin and the Elephant Man to the Rubik’s cube and Queen Victoria.
‘‘Well, we are a little harsh on Queen Victoria, it’s true, but the film is not pretending to be historically accurate,’’ Grant says, asked whether he thinks Queen Elizabeth would approve.
‘‘In fact, it’s probably the most historically inaccurate film ever made.’’
Grant says the ‘‘bang-on funny’’ script was one of the reasons he jumped on board, but also because it gave him a chance to work with Aardman directors Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt. He admits his affection for plasticine animation extends back to when he was a child watching a character on TV called Morph, which Lord created.
Aardman, renowned for its timeless and unique sense of humour, has always appealed to Grant.
‘‘I like it for being determinedly and quintessentially British,’’ he says.
Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant) and his motley crew (from left) Albino Pirate (Russel Tovey), Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (Ashley Jensen), Pirate with Scarf (Martin Freeman) and Pirate with Gout (Brendan Gleeson) in the animated school holiday romp