“I spent time with bunnies for seven months. I didn’t use my fingers. I hopped everywhere I went — ate nothing but grass,” joked Kevin Hart at “The Secret Life of Pets” premiere Saturday morning at the Lincoln Center in New York City.
The comedian, making his first appearance as an animated character, told Variety that he was excited to voice Snowball, a tyrannical bunny out for revenge against the human race. Hart added, “Probably the funniest thing you can do about putting a small black guy in a small white rabbit’s body is say, ‘Be yourself.'”
Snowball tries to recruit domesticated dogs Max and Duke, voiced by Louis C.K. and Eric Stonestreet, to join his gang of “Flushed Pets” as the pair try to escape Animal Control and find their way back home.
While Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri thought of centering a film around the mysterious lives of our pets, screenwriter Cinco Paul admits the movie initially started as a “Rear Window” concept.
“The pets were home [and] they witness a crime. But the two characters of Duke and Max kept declaring themselves so strongly that they kind of took over the movie and then we decided let’s just follow on that relationship.”
The family film is voiced primarily by comedians, which director Chris Renaud (“Despicable Me”) said made his job quite easy. “Everyone really inhabited their character. Max is a bit neurotic and a bit sarcastic. Louis is just that in his TV show and stand-up.”
After the screening, celebrities enjoyed grilled cheese, hot dogs and sliders amidst video games and crafting stations on the promenade and in the Lincoln Center lobby. Co-stars Ellie Kemper and Jenny Slate devoured small plates with Chris Evans while Lake Bell, another voice actor in the film, snagged strawberry shortcake-flavored ice cream from the dessert cart.
“The Secret Life of Pets” bows July 8.