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Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor
for Radio Free Entertainment

June 9, 2006

Garfield returns to the big screen in the family film Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, a comedy of mistaken identities that finds everyone's favorite lasagna-loving feline stowing away to London and trading places with a snobby look-a-like named Prince. Bill Murray returns as the voice of the iconic comic strip cat, as do Breckin Meyer as Garfield's owner Jon and Jennifer Love Hewitt as romantic interest and veterinarian extraordinaire Liz. Joining the cast for the sequel are Tim Curry as the voice of Prince, Billy Connelly as scheming antagonist Lord Dargis, and a slew of animals with comically emphasized accents.

In this interview, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Breckin Meyer talk about the making of the movie, and demonstrate an amusing relationship that feels a who lot like sibling rivalry.

The Interview

MEDIA: When were you first approached about a Garfield sequel?

BRECKIN: A couple months after it had been out, [producer] John Davis called, and I think he kind of jokingly said, "I'll see you for number two!" And I was like, "Ha! I'll talk to you later." And we kind of went off, and [Love] was back on her show and I was off doing a movie...And just slowly, everything became more real. And then the initial script had us going to London for the whole thing, which I was very into. But Love was doing her show and we couldn't work it out, and we wanted her in the movie. I say "we" like I had anything to do with it. [laughs]

JENNIFER: Thanks for that, Breckin.

BRECKIN: I totally wanted you to do it, but I have no power. But they really wanted to get us. I mean, the nucleus of the movie was [Jon proposing to Liz]. So they had to change it a little bit and keep it here, and then have Jon follow her to London. So we ended up doing a week in London without Love, and then we came back here and built a lot of the interior castle here.

So Jennifer, you never got to work in London for this movie?

JENNIFER: I didn't.

The two of you have known each other for a while. Did that relationship make it easier to come back for this project?

JENNIFER: Yeah, I think so. It was really fun. This is the third job that we've done together. When they called about doing the second one, I was like, "It's Breckin and I, right?" [laughs] "He's definitely there?" Because I didn't know what they were going to do. And they said, "Absolutely!" And I was like, "Sold. Fine. Be there." So he was the biggest reason that I wanted to come back and do another one. He's a really good guy and we have a lot of fun, and it doesn't feel like work when we're together.

BRECKIN: Yeah, it was cool. She was working her ass off on her show doing seventeen hour days, five days a week. It was just sick. Just sick work. And then we had to change our schedule a bit. We worked on every Sunday, because that was the only day she had available. So she'd do all her work five days a week, have one day off on Saturday, which usually was filled with fittings for our movie, and then she'd come over on Sunday and work with us. And it was great for us because I'm doing the whole week by myself with [a stand-in] black beanbag sack. And then on Sunday, a much prettier sack would come by. [laughs, gestures to Jennifer] And I would get to act with you! So it was lovely. It was a lot of fun. I looked forward to the Sundays.

After long days of acting out scenes with animals that aren't really there, was it a particular relief to get to work with other live people?

BRECKIN: It's always fun, when you're doing the CGI stuff, to actually get to work with someone who's real. Who's there. [laughs] And that was one of the things, also, that was so great about them adding Billy [Connelly] into this. With a sequel, you're always trying to get bigger and better--hopefully better, especially. And they went bigger with going to London, and all the interiors in the castle, and so many more animals. And Tim Curry doing the voice of Prince. And then when they added Billy and Ian Abercrombie as Smithee, it was so great to have more people to react to--to have more people act with you. It was just kind of refreshing because you do get a little worried that you're just working with a sack all day. [laughs] And then it was nice to have Love show up and have Billy there.

In addition to the CG animals, you also worked with live animals. Did any of them cause trouble for you?

BRECKIN: No. It's freakish how well-trained some of these animals are. Tyler and Chloe play Odie. Chloe is so adorable. Just a sweet little dog that wants nothing more than to be petted. Tyler could not care less about you. Tyler wants to do his job. When we start goofing off on set, Tyler gets moody. Like he really just wants to act. [laughs] He's like the De Niro of dogs. It's lovely! But the things that the trainers can get like the bulls to do--it's just kind of unbelievable. It was a messy outside area by our trailers. It was damn near disgusting. [laughs] But that was just because it was also the animal bathroom. I don't know why they parked our trailers right there.

JENNIFER: They kept us and all the animals together. [laughs]

BRECKIN: They kept all the animals together. But it was a lot of fun. I mean, it really was like having a zoo next door. You'd go out there and there's just parrots and monkeys and pigs and everything.

JENNIFER: You'd be in your trailer and [hear loud animal sounds]. [demonstrates]

BRECKIN: Yeah. There wasn't a lot of napping in the trailers. It was a blast.

There were two dogs playing Odie?

BRECKIN: Yeah. They're brother and sister...Tyler was in [Esquire magazine with Tom Hanks]. And it's so sad, because I'm on an airplane reading this magazine (because I'm pretty smart, so I read magazines), and I was like, "That's Tyler!" And everyone's like, "That's Tom Hanks." I'm like, "No, the dog's Tyler! I know the dog. I'll tell him you say hi."

There seems to be better interaction between the live actors and Garfield in this sequel. Why is that? Technological improvements?

BRECKIN: With the first one, we were a lot more hesitant to do things because it was like, "Well, that's twenty thousand dollars every time you touch him." And you're like, "Well Christ then, I won't touch him." And with this one, the effects guy told me ahead of time, "We've kind of streamlined it. We really know what we're doing now...So the more interaction you have with Garfield, the better. So if you're sitting there talking to him, it's actually better if you tickle under his chin, if you goof off with his ears, because it makes it more believable to the audience."

It seems like it would be easy to mistime a scene with Garfield since you have to imagine his physical position. Any blunders?

BRECKIN: There were a couple scenes in the first one where occasionally I'd pet too hard, and you see in the movie they had to make Garfield kind of scrunch down like, "What the hell are you doing?"

Jennifer, are you enjoying a short summer vacation while your TV show Ghost Whisperer is on hiatus?

JENNIFER: Yeah. I chose not to work. There were a couple of things that I could have gone and done, and I was like, "Do I go and work, or do I actually take the great opportunity that's been given to me that I may never have again, which is that I know the show's coming back, and just take a month and a half or two months to just rest?" And so other than doing a few publicity things here and there, I really have done nothing. I've learned how to cook more stuff that I wanted to learn how to cook, and I've laid out in the sun and played with my dog, and just kind of been a person, which is extremely important, because come July 10th, I will no longer be a person. [laughs] For nine months it'll just be work, work, work, work, work. So I've just rested.

What did you learn to cook?

BRECKIN: [jumps in] Cat!

JENNIFER: I've become a risotto person, which I now make. And steak, and really good spaghetti.

Where do you get your recipes?

BRECKIN: [jumps in again] Ghosts.

JENNIFER: Different books, but a lot of them are family recipes.

[to Breckin] We know it's been a long day. Are you really tired?

JENNIFER: No, he's not. That's the sad part. This is just who he is.

BRECKIN: Ghosts are just like, "Half a cup of parsley, trust me! No, a tablespoon! Tablespoon!"

JENNIFER: [glares comically at Breckin]

BRECKIN: What? Tell me you're not doing a cooking episode this year!

JENNIFER: I talk to ghosts on a show that highly affects people. You talk to a fat, orange cat and wear pleated khakis, okay? [laughs] So I don't want to hear anything from you! [laughs]

Jennifer, are you still singing?

JENNIFER: Yeah. I haven't really had a chance to do any like album or anything like that, but I'm always singing. I mean, I love it, and it's always something that I'll kind of find my way back to. But nothing coming up in the near future.

BRECKIN: [groans] She is always singing, by the way.

JENNIFER: [glares at Breckin again]

BRECKIN: [to Jennifer] I'm kidding.

JENNIFER: He's just been mean to me all day.

BRECKIN: I have not been. I have nothing but love for Love.

JENNIFER: Pick, pick, pick, pick, pick.

BRECKIN: [to Jennifer] I love you.

Jennifer, you mentioned that sleep hasn't been coming easily for you. With your long work hours, don't you automatically tire yourself out?

JENNIFER: No, because I have to learn lines for the next day. Most of the actors on the show are learning lines for two scenes. I have to learn lines for eight. Plus, I'm the cheerleader of the set because I'm the one that's always there, so I kind of have to keep the energy level up. It sounds like I'm complaining. I'm not. It's really the best job ever. But it definitely is taxing.

BRECKIN: [jokes] A lot of coke on that set of Ghost Whisperer. A lot of blow. "Coke Whisperer."

Thank you both for your time.

JENNIFER: Thank you.

BRECKIN: Thank you guys, have a good day.

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