'Mr. Peabody & Sherman's Ty Burrell Was FAR From First Choice for the Lead

ty burrell mr peabodyFrom The LEGO Movie to Frozen, during the past few months, it seems like we can't get enough of clever, engaging, gorgeous animated movies. If you need your animated fill this weekend, look no further than DreamWorks' newest flick, Mr. Peabody & Sherman. An obviously updated take on the late '50s/early '60s version of the cartoon Mr. Peabody, The Stir got a chance to get a sneak peek of the film as well as take an amazing tour of the DreamWorks campus.

The film is charming, cute, funny, and touching, as Mr. Peabody becomes the first dog to ever adopt a human child. Starring Ty Burrell as Mr. Peabody, Max Charles as Sherman, Ariel Winter as Penny, Stephen Colbert and Leslie Mann as Penny's parents, and Stanley Tucci as Leonardo da Vinci, the film is of course beautiful to watch yet, at its heart, it's still a story about a boy and his dog. Or is it the other way around this time?


Needless to say, finding the voice for Mr. Peabody was obviously the #1 priority for the filmmakers. In interviews with the director and producers of the movie, it's hard to be envious of such a Herculean task to find the perfect person to voice a dog. Get it wrong, and the movie just wouldn't work.

But it's super easy to be envious of where these people get to work every day in order to find that voice. As a trivial aside, check out some photos we took of the DreamWorks campus:





Where the hell do I apply? Not to mention it was 80 degrees in Los Angeles while the Northeast was going through a polar vortex ... but anyway ...

When talking with the director of the film, Rob Minkoff, and the producer, Tiffany Ward, they helped describe the process they went through to cast Ty Burrell as the main role. Believe it or not, it took them a while to find Ty, as he definitely wasn't their first choice.

Rob said, "Casting the voice is maybe the most critical single decision that you make in realizing the character. You could draw thousands of drawings and you can get the character to look a certain way. But it's not until you find that voice that the character comes to life."

Essentially, finding Mr. Peabody's voice would pretty much set the tone for the rest of the story. They at first wanted to look for actors who were more well known, as it was in the first season of Modern Family and it hadn't taken off yet. So he basically wasn't even on their radar at first.

Rob said, "We thought about a number of different people. We'd gone through and taken voice work from a variety of actors who we all thought were kind of appropriate on some level for Mr. Peabody. And we took their performances and we put them up against images from the original cartoon and we sort of looked at them and sort of said what of these works? Ty Burrell was not included in that first group. For a variety of reasons, the ones that we had looked at first didn't work out, didn't make sense, weren't quite right."

So it was time to switch their gears. Rob explained, "At the time, the conversation was, well, let's go with the right actor. Let's not worry about his bankability. Let's not worry about him being driving that marketing piece because let's just pick who's right. Particularly because Mr. Peabody was a character that was known, you know? ... But we brought Ty in for an audition ... after, I think, two or three sessions, we sort of found the character."

Tiffany added, "And something that Ty specifically brought, I think, that we really needed in this character was this incredible warmth in his voice. And some of the other actors that we thought were going to be right because they sounded very intellectual and they had a sort of an emotional restraint and all the stuff that you associate with him either sounded flat or nasty."

That was probably the toughest thing of all. We all know that nerdy is the newest "in" thing (for the most part), but to find both a nerdy voice yet have that warmth and comfort of a father figure? No wonder they had to go through so many voices in order to find Ty's. And Ty's lead role in Modern Family as a bumbling yet lovable dad actually helped put it all together.

"Somehow Ty, even when he was being emotionally withholding and not doing what we wanted him to do, as Mr. Peabody, he had a sort of a lovable quality to his voice. It's interesting how much is held in the voice," said Tiffany.

After Ty was launched to superstardom with the success of Modern Family, it's easy to see why his voice is perfect for the film. He's funny, charming, dorky, yet sounds like a father figure we'd love to learn a lesson from.

Think they made the right choice? Check out the trailer:


Image via DreamWorks

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