Host: Let's talk about this again. I just met the boys downstairs and they- how did you know that these were the ones to be cast as Alvin and the Chipmunks? How did you find these boys?
Ross: Well, you know, you just, first of all obviously, you audition folks and when Justin came in, he was so Alvin. His rants, I mean honestly, if we could have had a twelve hour movie, we could have had all of the rants that he-
Janice: It was painful to cut his stuff because it was so funny.
Ross: So funny. And Matthew Gubler, who is Simon, brings not just that sort of studious, intellectual thing that you would expect from Simon, but he also brings this really wonderful eccentric wit and great fun. So, you know, he brought a lot of personality to Simon. And Jesse is really sweet. And because all three of these guys grew up on the shows that Janice and I produced, when we voiced the characters all those years, they were really respectful of what was right for Alvin, Simon, and Theodore.
Host: Well, working on, now you kind of bring Alvin to another generation of kids and you also modernized the story, the sound of the music is totally different. What was it like to kind of almost create a new version of this? Like, what was the plan?
Janice: It was fun! I mean, it's fun to update the characters and to bring them into modern vernacular and hip songs. And it's always fun to take them places because they go there so well, you know, they're very malleable and they always have been. We've moved them over the years and they just fit beautifully.
Ross: You know, the fun thing about The Chipmunks is the look. You know, they started as puppets on The Ed Sullivan Show, then they became animated, then this new look, this CGI look. Janice worked really closely with the designers because she knew she wanted them to be small so you believed that that lived in this real world.
Janice: You couldn't have real looking chipmunks up to Dave's knee, you know, and have anyone buy that.
Ross: That's frightening.
Host: Yeah, that's scary.
Janice: We wanted them small, and we wanted them to look real, and move in this live action world, and yet embody the character that people grew up with and enjoyed.
Ross: Because when you first see them in the tree, if you don't know who they are, if you don't have the sense of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, then we failed.
Host: Well, watching, you know, part of the history of Alvin and the Chipmunks is the infamous "ALVINNN!!!," you know, so, watching Jason do that, I mean, did he practice? Did he talk to you about how to get the perfect-?
Ross: You know, that was really funny because Jason, who is a new dad, he's a father of a three-and-a-half-year-old boy and a wonderful kid, and it was really important to Jason, he said, "You know, I don't want to come across too mean," so initially he'd be, "Alvinnn!" And then, "No, no. Jason, Alvin has just ruined your date, ruined your job, and wrecked your house all in 24 hours. That is worthy of "ALVINNN!!!," so don't be afraid. And you are also so likable and so appealing as an actor and as a person, you can weather that storm. You're not going to come across as a child beater, don't worry."
Janice: But he also didn't have the benefit of having chipmunks there, so it was a leap of faith. You know, he couldn't see Alvin's antics, he couldn't see all the things they were doing to justify the yell, so Ross said, "Just trust us on this, you can go for it."
Host: Walking around the grounds of this beautiful home, there's a lot of history here. I'm just wondering, what was it like growing up with this and, as a child, did you understand the kind of cultural importance that the stuff that your father had created?
Ross: Well, growing up, you obviously have no sense of cultural importance of any kind. What I knew was that my dad having a hit song meant that I got to stay up late and watch Ed Sullivan when he appeared with The Chipmunks. You know, those were the sorts of things. It meant that- we lived in an area that was really hot during the summertime, and because he had written this song that did so well and people enjoy, we got a swimming pool. So, that's the kind of cultural importance that I understood.
Janice: That's as deep as it got.
Host: Then as you grow up, you know, to keep this brand, you know, how do you continue to, like, have this enthusiasm to kind of even make a new film for it? I mean, what is it about it that you really need to do?
Janice: You need to love the characters. You know, you need to love these guys and you need to want to do right by them. And you need to want to do right by the people who grew up on them, and trusted you, and loved them. So, that was a huge responsibility for us, and that's why it took so long to do it. We wanted to make sure that the script was right, the tone was right, the characterization was right, and the studio would let us be involved as we needed to be to protect the boys.