Following up a half-billion-dollar-grossing movie is a problem a lot of filmmakers would like to have. Producer Mireille Soria said those behind the Oscar-submitted "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" relied on two things: the cast and the continent.
"Casting-wise, we were very lucky that everyone wanted to come back, and we added great people -- Bernie Mac, will.i.am, Alec Baldwin," Soria says.
She points out that the returning principal actors -- Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer and Sacha Baron Cohen -- are multi-hyphenates who bring a special understanding to the "Madagascar" collaborative process.
"Each of the actors knew their characters very well. We record them as we develop the script over three years, so it really is a partnership. They're all hysterical, but Sacha will go on for 20 minutes if you give him two lines -- most of it's for the R-rated version," she adds, laughing wickedly.
"We always videotape as we're recording and make it available to the animators, which is why [that although] David Schwimmer doesn't look like a giraffe, you see him in Melman. The same with Alec Baldwin; those are his gestures."
Soria says the actors weren't the movie's only real-life models: Moving the action to mainland Africa dramatically broadened the film's scope.
"That really impacted the film," she says of a location-scouting trip that stayed with her. "Visually, there are moments [in the film] where I can remember being there and what was the inspiration for that."
-- Michael Ordona