Genesis Tennon is used to attending Hollywood events with mom Oscar-winner Viola Davis, but at “The Angry Birds Movie 2” premiere, it was her turn to be the star. As Davis and husband Julius Tennon looked on beaming with pride, Genesis walked the red carpet for her first screen credit and chatted animatedly with reporters.
“Well, I would randomly be like, ‘Oh, I have to go to this event with my mom,’ and then I would pause and be like ‘Hold up, wait a second, it’s about me!’ And I got excited,” Tennon joked to Variety on Saturday morning at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood. The 7-year-old makes her acting debut in the animated film, voicing hatchling Vivi alongside Gal Gadot’s daughter Alma Versano and Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban’s daughters Sunday Rose and Faith.
According to Genesis, her parents weren’t nervous about her big moment, but they did give her a bit of advice. “No matter what people say, you should keep moving forward,” she shared. “So that’s what I’m going to do.”
Speaking of moving forward, the Angry Birds franchise is back for another go-round after making more than $350 million worldwide in its first on-screen outing. The Sony Pictures animated sequel, based on the popular (and highly profitable) video game franchise about a longstanding rivalry between multicolored birds and green pigs, stars returners Josh Gad, Jason Sudeikis, and Bill Hader and newcomers Leslie Jones, Rachel Bloom, Sterling K. Brown and Eugenio Derbez.
“I’ve been doing the Spanish dubbing for all the big Hollywood movies — I am Donkey in ‘Shrek.’ I’m Snowball in ‘Secret Life of Pets.’ So I’ve been basically dubbing Kevin Hart, Jim Carrey, Eddie Murphy for my entire life, and this is the first time I do an original voice in English. So I’m very excited,” Derbez shared, joking that he’s padding his paycheck by dubbing himself (as bird and scientist Glenn) in the Spanish-language version of this film.
Teen sensation JoJo Siwa also makes her feature film debut in the movie, showing up to the red carpet in a light-blue feathered number that took three months to create. “This outfit is inspired by my character Jay from the movie, then Elton John and Freddie Mercury,” Siwa explained, adding that she’s a longtime fan of the game. ”I played a ton. I played the game all the time. I loved it from the beginning…Maybe shouldn’t talk about [how much she spent] though because my mom’s right there.”
Jones, who voices the villainous bird Zeta, also sported a feathered number and shared her own a long and expensive history with the video game that inspired the film. How large of a bill did she rack up with her game play? “A very high one. Thank you, iTunes,” Jones laughed. “I feel like that should’ve been part of the contract, like all free credits. I literally asked that.” Jones’ shared that her request for reimbursement was turned down.
The financial outlook for the animated sequel looks good, given that early reviews have been largely positive. Gad (Chuck) – who will also reprise his role as Olaf in “Frozen 2” later this year – shared one review that compared the movie to “The Godfather Part 2”, “Terminator 2”, and “Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan” and emphasized that the film is better than its predecessor.
“I’m honored,” Gad told Variety of the comparison. “I do think they’re right though. I think it’s pretty hard to top an original when you’re setting out to do a sequel. But this movie does just that — I think it’s funnier. I think it’s more surprising. I think it’s crazier. I think audiences are in, for a real surprise.”
“The Angry Birds Movie 2” lands in theaters on Aug. 13