Dane Cook a Disney star now in 'Planes: Fire & Rescue'

Actor Dane Cook, who voices the character of

Actor Dane Cook, who voices the character of "Dusty Crophopper," poses at the world premiere of "Planes" at El Capitan theatre in Hollywood, California August 5, 2013. The movie opens in the U.S. on August 9. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

, Last Updated: 4:11 PM ET

If you listen to standup comic Dane Cook’s cutting routines, with their blue streaks and intelligent adult themes, you would never guess he always dreamed of being part of the Disney animation family. But he did, ever since seeing the hybrid musical Bedknobs and Broomsticks as a kid.

“I was a huge admirer of all things animation, including a lot of Disney films when I was young,” Cook says in an exclusive interview. Bedknobs and Broomsticks, released a year before Cook was born in 1972, became a favourite with its live action and animation sequences. “The voices were really, really wonderful,” he says of the magical parts. “I knew I wanted to do animation even then.”

So the invitation to voice Dusty Crophopper in the Planes movies was too good to be true. “I always hoped that I would get the phone call, that something in my voice would matter. And, lo and behold, I got the call from John Lasseter. Willy Wonka, I like to call him. The Big Dreamer!”

Planes was a $220 million worldwide success for Walt Disney Studios in 2013. The sequel, Planes: Fire & Rescue, opens Friday. Four years in the making, it was in production long before the first instalment was released. Cook is unabashedly enthusiastic about how Dusty evolves.

“They told me that Dusty was going to undergo an emotional and a physical change,” he says of how the Disneytoon filmmakers pitched the sequel. “That kind of got me jazzed up! Because, so many times in animation, you hear: ‘We’ve got to keep the look of the character.’ In this, Dusty gets to change his colour. He’s got the pontoons. I like that they let him evolve not only emotionally but even physically. For me, that’s kind of wild.”

Cook’s vocals morph as Dusty goes from aerial racing to his training as a forest firefighter. “The first movie, it’s lovely, it’s charming, it’s very sweet,” Cook says, “and there is a certain kind of naivete with Dusty. He was kind of like aw-shucks about certain things when he would be dreaming about the future. I always wanted to have that wonder in his voice.”

In Fire & Rescue, Dusty is coming off his racing triumph. “Now he’s got self-assurance. He feels confident. So I could start the character in a completely different way.”

While Dusty grows up in the sequel, the Planes movies are still too child-like to carry over into standup. Cook did a brief onstage routine about Planes in his recent Under Oath Tour but cut it out of the forthcoming TV special. Cook says it is too risky to connect the two worlds on TV, given the risque nature of his standup.

At the same time, the 42-year-old native of Cambridge, Mass., says comedy keeps him young. “That’s why I love standup. I step onstage and I feel like the same kid who stepped onstage when he was 18.”

Comedy is “a need” and “my nutrition,” Cook says. He took a year off after the death of both his inspirational parents in 2006-07. Returning to the stage later, he realized something: “It feeds me in a way that I didn’t realize until I stepped away. It is my need to share, my need to have that bit of attention, and with so many what-if’s and because’s in between. It is a wonderful profession. I love it!”

Cook still channels both his parents through his routines. Before going on, he often finds himself saying: “Okay Mom and Dad, showtime!”

Dane Cook is still the boy who dreams.

Twitter: @Bruce_Kirkland

bruce.kirkland@sunmedia.ca

 


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