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by Amily » Sat Dec 17, 2016 3:45 pm

Jemaine Clement's 'crabulous' role in Disney's Moana
JACK VAN BEYNEN
Last updated 05:00, December 18 2016

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2016 has been Jemaine Clement's year of giants.

After playing the villainous giant Fleshlumpeater in The BFG, the Kiwi actor has turned his talents to voicing giant hermit crab Tamatoa in Moana.

Clement was tipped off several years ago that he might be offered a role in Disney's Polynesian princess film by frequent collaborator and good mate Taika Waititi, who worked on an early draft of the script.

The pair had worked together to write and perform a comedy play about Maui back in 2003, and Waititi had written a part for Clement in the Moana script.

It wasn't until earlier this year that he learned he'd be playing Tamatoa. However his initial expectations for the character were a little off the mark.

"Tamatoa means warrior, so I imagined a strong warrior crab, you know, with this armour, tough, and then when I got there in the booth I spent most of the time singing this song about being shiny, basically being fabulous. So it was very different from what I imagined. But you can just roll with it a lot, you can just change your voice, have a completely different take on it from one take to another."

Tamatoa is narcissistic and obsessed with looking good, decorating his shell with all manner of treasures and shiny objects.

Clement's role saw him working closely with the film's lyricist, Lyn-Manuel Miranda. He'd met Miranda around ten years earlier, when Flight of the Conchords played a festival with Miranda's group Freestyle Love Supreme. At that festival, Conchords closed their set with Bowie, a tribute to the Thin White Duke that sees Clement imitating his accent.

Clement reckons Miranda had his Bowie impression in mind when writing Tamatoa's song, Shiny; Miranda's demo of the track sounds like he was doing an impression of Clement's Bowie impression.

"You can hear his demo on the soundtrack. First I went to sing it in the voice I had thought of for the character, but then he was like, 'Can you do it more Bowie?' I relented and did that," Clement says.

Clement had great fun working on this film. He says there's more room for experimentation in voice-work because actors don't have a crew of hundreds waiting on them to get their lines right.

"On set there are other actors who you can bounce off, but you can bounce off the writers, and on set you're just worried because there's literally hundreds of people waiting for you to get through whatever dumb thing you're saying, you just feel bad if you're messing around."

Although Moana wasn't Clement's first Disney animation, it nonetheless went some way to fulfilling one of his childhood ambitions.

"The first job I ever wanted when I was about five was being an animator, and I remember on Worlds of Disney they had like a documentary section about how they animate, and I remember watching them drawing the pictures and recording, and folding over the acetate and going on to the next bit - and I wanted to do every part of it, I wanted to write it, do the voice, when I was five.

"I just do one part of it, but I'm glad to be a part of it. The studio that made me interested in it is the one I'm working for."

Despite his own excitement about the film, Clement wasn't anticipating the kind of reaction it's had.

"I didn't realise because I've done other animations and even other Disney movies, and then doing the music - and the music was a bit trickier than I'm used to - I was like, 'Oh yeah, it's one of these movies, the villains have these big songs'. And then in the last few weeks since it's been out in America, all the fan art and all that sort of stuff, they draw [Tamatoa] as a human, and they draw him as a human woman, there's all these different versions and it was like, 'Oh that's right, these movies are like that, they have this big fandom behind them'."

Moana opens in New Zealand on Boxing Day.

- Stuff

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by Amily » Sun Dec 18, 2016 7:30 pm

JEMAINE CLEMENT TALKS PLAYING A GIANT CRAB IN MOANA, CHANNELLING DAVID BOWIE AND MAORI MYTHS (EXCLUSIVE)
DECEMBER 19, 2016 CARINA NILMA

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Arriving into Australian cinemas on Boxing Day is Disney’s brand new animated feature Moana and this will be the first time the studio is exploring the culture and myths of the South Pacific region, particularly that of the Polynesian people.

In the film an ancient curse that is causing the crops to fail and fish to disappear must be reversed so Moana Waialiki (Auili’i Cravalho) the only daughter of the chief, must find the Demi-God Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and restore the heart of the God, Te Fiti, to lift the curse and save her people.

Along the way, Moana will test her abilities as a sea voyager and navigator and meet some interesting characters, one of which happens to be Tamatoa voiced by Jemaine Clement. We had a chat with Jemaine regarding his character.

“He’s a giant crab, he’s 50 feet tall, he is I’m not sure if you’d say evil, but there’s something not right with him. He’s very vain, and he’s like a magpie in a way, he collects shiny things. He’s this giant evil crab but he wants to look pretty. I’m surprised by all the messages I get about people relating to this character, like that’s how they feel, they feel they want to be pretty and just hide they’re actually just a crab.”

Being a Disney film, this of course features some fantastic music with original songs written by Opetaia Foa’i and Lin-Manuel Miranda and the score composed by Mark Mancina. In the film Tamatoa has a song called “Shiny” where he waxes lyrical about himself. Miranda of course is best known for his smash hit Broadway musical Hamilton, and he specifically wrote the song with Clement in mind, though Clement admits that he was a little rusty with singing.

“He (Lin) wrote it knowing I’d be doing the part. I just turned up at the studio and sang it. I tried some different lyrics occasionally but mostly, he (Lin) knows what he’s doing.”

“The most challenging thing was reaching the high notes in ‘Shiny’. You’ve gotta warm up. When we recorded it, Lin was in New York, I was in LA. After we’d record, Lin would have to go do ‘Hamilton’. And he’d be directing me over Skype, so he’d be very used to singing, and I hadn’t. Even though I used to do it, I hadn’t done it for a couple of years, not properly, not regularly. So you just gotta keep doing it and get better at it.”

One thing that did take Clement by surprise though was the image Miranda and the Disney team had already conjured up for Tamatoa. It actually was a rather drastically different one to Clement’s initial interpretation of the character.

“The way I was thinking of playing the character before I went in there, was a very tough aggressive like warrior, the name Tamatoa means warrior, so I was imagining his shell like armour, a metallic shell like armour.”

“And then I went in there and they’ve given me this glam-rock song about being shiny it’s just the exact opposite of what I had been thinking. It wasn’t until I was in the studio and you’re going to sing this song, which I had heard but I’d been singing it differently. I still haven’t seen it (the film), so I don’t know how the final version comes out, but I’m interested to see these different things and how they work together.”

Despite having a different idea of what the character would be, the song itself is very much a tribute to David Bowie. Channelling the glam-rock Thin White Duke is something that Clement has done before in his cult hit TV series Flight Of The Conchords. Which was probably where Miranda got the idea from.

“To me it sounds like on his demo, you can hear his demo on the soundtrack, but that demo was what was sent to me before I went and recorded it. I knew he was doing an impression of my impression of Bowie, but I didn’t know if he thought that was just how I sung. So I didn’t know if he only knew one song of ours, and thought I sung like that all the time. So when I tried to record it in the character’s voice, he just kept pushing the Bowie thing, do it more Bowie, he wanted glam, like a T-Rex Bowie.”

“As a fan of David Bowie, I did find it a little sad to be thinking of it. I’ve been called on to do Bowie impressions a few times and I’m not even great at it. But I just trusted what Lin was doing and that was how we wanted it to sound.”

“What Lin said about it, he said “the Bowie that you do is a very specific era of Bowie, it’s like ‘Let’s Dance’ Bowie, which is right”. I’ve heard better impressions, and I’m not good at speaking like him, like Lin said, it’s an older Bowie that I can do.”

Besides getting to channel his inner Bowie, Clement also got to try out a little improv whilst doing his voice acting for the character. As a comedian of course this resulted in many improv outtakes but felt it pertinent to ask if one stuck out in his memory the most.

“Oh yeah we do that, you have the script, then you get through the script. Then they do some takes where they say “just throw in any ideas you have”, then you do your improv. Then they have alternative lines or alternative jokes usually, so you do those, then you do versions of those so there’s a lot of improv. They don’t need to have any of it, but I’ll find out tomorrow I guess if they used any, and then it’s hard to remember who came up with what”

“I remember having a big apology sequence, I know it’s not in the movie I know that, the crab mentions, Tamatoa mentions eating his grandma, and then I did this big emotional apology about eating my grandma, I found that really funny. It might have been a bit indulgent and long. I remember tearing up in the studio. You can’t have all those improvs, it would be the longest film, it would be 10 hours. It would be nice to see Tamatoa having some self-realisation though.”

In regards to self-realisation, the journey Moana takes is one about self-discovery and is also thematically rooted in Polynesian culture. Paritcularly in regards to voyaging and the ancestral Polynesians travelling from island to island. It’s been widely acknowledged that this film is Disney’s first that brings the South Pacific people to the screen. We quiz Clement over the importance of having Polynesian and Maori representation. And whether there were any Maori myths or legends he has a particular fondness for.

“I think it’s a positive thing, I think it’s great how they’ve had a lot of Polynesian people involved all throughout the film, doing some of the score, some of the artists, almost all the cast are Polynesian except for the chicken (voiced by Alan Tudyk). I love the way that they’ve done it coz it would be strange watching someone else, having people that weren’t Polynesian I think it would be very strange to watch. I like the way that they’ve included Polynesian artists.”

“In Maori culture there’s 2 kinds of stories, there’s adventure stories, or the ones I’ve mostly heard of centre around Maui. Some of the Maui stories are quite terrifying in the Maori version, different Polynesian societies have different versions, some of them that I’ve heard now are a bit nicer, not as scary as the Maori version. Me and Taiki Waititi, about 12 years ago we wrote a play together about Maui, we did the legends of Maui called “The Untold Tales Of Maui” and that’s the one that’s stuck with me from being a kid, enough to write a whole play. He’s a very famous, well known character.”

Coincidentally, Clement mentioning his work with Waititi also ties in nicely with our query relating to any forthcoming projects he happens to be working on. Fans of the cult hit film released in 2014 What We Do In The Shadows will pleased to hear that his next project will use a pair of characters we’ve seen before.

“I’m producing a TV show that’s like a New Zealand X-Files in a way but it’s a comedy. Did you see “What We Do In The Shadows”? Well the two police officers who come to the vampires house and they get hypnotised. We’ll be taking those 2 characters, and doing a spin off. Hopefully it will be released late next year.”

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by Amily » Tue Dec 20, 2016 8:24 pm

Disney has released 'Shiny' in it's entirety! #excited#

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by Amily » Tue Dec 27, 2016 11:54 am

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by Amily » Thu Jan 05, 2017 7:40 pm

HOW TO PLAY A GIANT DISNEY VILLAIN WITH FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS' JEMAINE CLEMENT

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We spoke to the comedian and actor about voicing a 50-foot crab, channelling David Bowie and working on Disney's Moana.
Most people don't imagine themselves making a career out of voicing Disney villains — but, of course, Jemaine Clement isn't most people. So did he see a Disney villain in his destiny? "If I was honest, I'd probably say yes," the comedian, actor and one half of Flight of the Conchords offers. And, lending his distinctive tones to the singing, scurrying character of Tamatoa in Disney's new film Moana, he has well and truly fulfilled that prophecy.

Dwelling deep under the sea in the realm of monsters, Tamatoa is a swift-talking 50-foot crab with a fondness for treasure and a David Bowie-esque musical number in which he somewhat joyfully, somewhat menacingly declares: "I'd rather be shiny". He's also one of the formidable forces standing in the way of Moana's titular heroine (newcomer Auli'i Cravalho) as she explores the ocean to save her island-dwelling people, all with a shapeshifting demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) reluctantly by her side.

Yes, Clement voicing a cheeky character and singing a glam rock track is the stuff that dreams are made of, and with his frequent collaborator and What We Do in the Shadows co-scribe and co-director Taika Waititi taking a first pass at Moana's screenplay — along with former Flight of the Conchords opening act and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda co-writing the film's original music — it just gets better. With Moana now in Australian cinemas, we spoke with Clement about working on Disney's Polynesian musical, voicing giant characters and channelling his inner Bowie.

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ON GETTING INVOLVED WITH MOANA

Concrete Playground: How did you get involved with Moana?

Jemaine Clement: A friend of mine, Taika Waititi, who I work with a lot, was one of the writers. And when he was doing his draft of the film, he told me that Disney, who I've worked with a couple of times before, wanted me to do something in it.

It's a Polynesian story and they've gone for a mostly Polynesian cast — and I'm part Maori, so I think it was pretty natural. And I also, I've played a lot of animated villains. So who else would you get?

ON PLAYING A LIGHT-FINGERED, SELF-ABSORBED, 50-FOOT CRAB

CP: How did you go getting into character for the role of 50-foot crab Tamatoa?

JC: Well, I guess I'm not 50 foot — I'm only just approximately six foot, just over. So I had to work on that. It's the second 50-foot character I've played this year. In The BFG, I was also 50-foot. So I guess I must sound pretty big.

CP: People are obviously getting that idea from listening to you.

JC: "How this big is this guy? He sounds huge."

CP: And then they meet you in person, and they realise…

JC: "Oh no, he's only about six foot."

ON FILLING HIS RESUME WITH ANIMATED VILLAINS

CP: You recently played Fleshlumpeater in The BFG — you've got quite the CV when it comes to playing animated villains now.

JC: I hope I can get some use out of that. Maybe just telling my son it's bedtime. I'll do the voice.

I always was interested in animation, that was the first job I ever wanted to do. When I was five, I remember seeing a thing on The Wonderful World of Disney about the animation process and I wanted to do that as a first job — I aspired to be an animator. And I imagined that I'd do all the parts, you know, like write it, voice it, animate it, — but I haven't gotten to the other two.

ON CHANNELLING DAVID BOWIE — AGAIN

CP:
Between Flight of the Conchords and Moana, your Bowie impression is getting a good workout too.

JC: I don't even think my impression's that good. But it stuck with people. In the TV show [Flight of the Conchords]...my comedy partner is having dreams about David Bowie, so I play David Bowie. But I wasn't supposed to play him. It was very last minute that I ended up playing that character, and I've been asked to do it a few times now.

CP: You originally tried to get David Bowie to play himself?

JC: We did, yeah. But I think that would've been nerve-wracking. I mean, it would've been amazing as well, but, you know.

ON REUNITING WITH LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA

CP: How was it working with Moana songwriter and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda again?

JC: I'd remembered Freestyle Love Supreme [Lin-Manuel Miranda's hip hop comedy troupe], and I'd even seen them again not that long ago — and I hadn't connected him with the guy I had met [previously]. I didn't realise it was the same person until he said, "Oh we met. We met, we were doing that gig in 2004/2005". And yeah, suddenly it came back. Whoa. I've never seen any musical show have the reaction that Hamilton has. He deserves that. He's very clever, bright, and very talented.

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by emira » Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:01 am

I've copied here the post from the 'Legion' threat, because the interview mentions Moana many times and I was looking for this interview here, instead of Legion, although he's talking about Rio, The BFG and many more projects as well. Now I have more places to find it :)

Niamara wrote:Hey guys, I just listened to a short podcast called FlicksCast. Jemaine briefly mentions that his character is a scientist and a mutant (he thinks, lol. He said he wasn't given all the info). Also he laughs a lot in this, which absolutely melts my heart.

https://soundcloud.com/flicks-nz/a-chat ... es-of-maui

#love3#


I actually love what he said about the Maui suit. Why would they assume that it was for white kids only? And why brown kids have to wear white kids' costumes? I like his point of view on that.
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by onlyalways » Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:04 pm

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New pic I haven't seen yet with Rachel House. #love3# #love3# #love3#

ETA: And another. #heart#

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We must be good at guitar... we're not that good.

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by Amily » Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:24 pm

Just a cute little excerpt from this interview with Rachel House.

Do you have a favorite song from the film?

I feel like I’m being a little bit disloyal to all those extraordinary people like Dwayne [Johnson] and Auli’i [Cravalho] in the film, but I have to tell you that my favorite song in the film is “Shiny” performed by my dear friend Jemaine [Clement]. That is my favorite song. And it’s just because I think… Jemaine’s a good mate but I’m also a really big fan of his. So I think he did a phenomenal job and I think Lin[-Manuel Miranda] did a phenomenal job of the style of the song as well.


Sounds like Rachel is a little bit biased as well. #lol# #love3#
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