Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart have made five movies together, and they’re pretty animated about it. That makes perfect sense since the latest collaboration between the two superstar dads — following two Jumanjis, Central Intelligence, and Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw — is the animated family feature DC League of Super-Pets. The film, which opens July 29, centers on Superman’s dog Krypto (Johnson) and the self-styled pup, Bat-Hound (Hart). It’s a great movie to see in the theater this summer with kids, and Johnson and Hart are hilarious in it.
Basically, it’s a pets-save-the-day adventure, better than any episode of Paw Patrol. When villainous Lex Luthor (Marc Maron) kidnaps the heroes of the Justice League (including Keanu Reeves as Batman and Jameela Jamil as Wonder Woman), Krypto steps in to help his best friend. Only, he’s lost his powers and must rely on assistance from a motley group of shelter pets – among them Hart as the boxer Ace, Natasha Lyonne as the turtle Merton, Vanessa Bayer as the potbellied pig PB, and Diego Luna as the squirrel Chip – who’ve suddenly gained superpowers. Adding to the havoc is Lulu (Kate McKinnon), a hairless guinea pig and fellow shelter pet who joins forces with Luthor. It’s fun!
Fatherly caught up with Johnson (a dad to three girls) and Hart (a father of four) for a laugh-filled conversation in which they discussed creating chemistry without being in the same room at the same time, their thoughts on the appropriate age to see League of Super-Pets, and their upcoming projects.
This is your fifth movie together. Dwayne, you're one of the producers on this. Did you call Kevin and say, “Will you do this with me?’ How does that work?
Johnson: Very easy. We got the script and I automatically knew that Kevin was going to be amazing for this. You'll get something like Jumanji... By the way, with the first Jumanji, Kevin was originally attached to it. All of a sudden, he calls me and he goes, “Hey, what about this?” We know each other very well. I've known Kevin for years. He does a lot of things. He's in multiple industries, and he likes to do them very well. In something like this, with animation and DC’s Super Pets, I already knew he would recognize this as, “Oh, it's different. It's fresh. It's the pets of superheroes. That's cool. That's a fresh take.” The bottom line is, that we can root the story in the relationship between Ace and Krypto… Kevin and myself.
Kevin, are you buying any of that?
Hart: I actually am. I would love to tell you no, but I am. This was one of those calls that was very easy to understand, receive and jump at. Look, in this space of animation, you really do have to get lucky when it comes to the projects that you attach yourself to because you want them all to be massive. When you get an IP like this and have the opportunity to have it grow, build, and become something huge, for me, it's a no-brainer. The idea of the superheroes having pets, it seems so easy and simple, but it's never been done. To jump into this space, get such an amazing cast, have the partners at Warners that we do, plus the support and backing to possibly make this one of the biggest… Well, it's only what you can hope for. Fingers crossed that families love it.
In your other movies, you were together in front of a camera. For this, did you record your dialogue together, separately, or by Zoom? And how did you maintain the chemistry in animation?
Johnson: That’s a great question. Luckily enough, we've known each other for a very long time. We did a lot of our work without the both of us in the room. With our scenes, I know Kevin's rhythms. It always informed me how I was going to play Krypto. It’s the same thing with him and Ace. He knows my rhythms, too, and so we'll leave space for him to respond in the way that he would respond, in terms of timing. It was very easy.
Hart: You’ve got to credit our director. [Jared Stern.] We had an amazing director. Even though we are separate, we're being informed as to what our counterpart was doing or what their tone was in a certain scene. Sometimes you could see little clips, little tidbits to give you an idea, but to Dwayne's point, if you know the rhythm and the cadences of one another, it makes it easier. I can come in, I can guess, and already know his space; where he's going to play, and how he's going to maneuver. So, I know what I'm reacting off of. When you have that chemistry, it only helps add to what we have.
The movie is a lot of fun. It's colorful. It's got great messages for kids, but it's also got supervillains doing super villainous things. For each of you, what do you think is the right age for this movie?
Johnson: I'm going to take a shot at this because I have a four-year-old who saw it and loved it. So, I would say four. (Looking at Hart) What would you say?
Hart: I would definitely want to say four. Zo (Kenzo) is four and he loved it. He responded to it. I'm going to say four on up because when you strike gold within animation, you find that the movies work for everyone. Of course, you want that younger kid to be happy, but when you look over and you find the mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunt, or uncle laughing just as hard as the kid, or enjoying the movie just as much, that's ultimately what it's for. You're trying to create some content for families. We want you all to go to the theater, watch it, and make this an event.
Kevin, you’ve got Borderlands coming up. Dwayne, you’ve got Black Adam on the way. How are they coming together?
Hart: Borderlands is going to be a big movie, man. I can't wait. Cate Blanchett is amazing in it. Again, another amazing cast. Eli Roth is our director. Looking forward to showing people and seeing their responses.
Johnson: I can't wait to see him in that. That's a big one. Black Adam is coming along great. Cannot wait until October. The hierarchy of power in the DC universe is going to change, not because of a man in black or because we're introducing the JSA, but because we're also introducing another character and his name is Honky Pete. (Both he and Hart crack up).
DC League of Super-Pets is out in theaters now.