A new Brand of celebration

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 April, 2011, 12:00am


Santa Claus has been the subject of many films over the years. But his springtime counterpart, the Easter Bunny, has enjoyed little screen time - until now.

The producers of Despicable Me and Alvin and the Chipmunks director Tim Hill have come together to produce Hop, the story of the Easter Bunny's teenage son and his dream of becoming a rock star. That's right, E.B. has no desire to follow in his father's footsteps. On the night that's he's supposed to take over from his dad, he escapes from Easter Island (naturally) and head for the bright lights of Hollywood.

The film features both live actors and animated animals, a mix which has been popular for years (see the surprisingly progressive, similarly bunny-themed 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit?), but which has plenty of room for disaster.

Fortunately, according to producer Chris Meledandri, Hill's 'deep knowledge of the challenge and nuances - both technically and artistically - of blending live action with state-of-the-art CG animation has provided a daily education to those of us who are lucky enough to work with him.'

Casting live action characters is hard enough, but when an actor has to let his own characteristics shine without even appearing on screen, it's even harder. Luckily, the team had already worked with E.B.'s voice actor, British comic Russell Brand, on Despicable Me.

'The minute that Russell starts performing, he imbues the character with a rich, comedic personality that gives the animators so much to work with, Meledandri says. 'He has a level of energy that almost cannot be contained. It is explosive and comedic, but perhaps most importantly for this film is that his voice embodies sweetness.'

And, given E.B.'s musical aspirations, Brand's infamous rock star image can't have hurt the casting process.