Angry Birds' voice stars took part in the movie for the sake of their young children

Jason Sudeikis (left) is the voice of Red and Josh Gad is behind Chuck.
Jason Sudeikis (left) is the voice of Red and Josh Gad is behind Chuck.PHOTOS: 2016 ROVIO, REUTERS

Jason Sudeikis and Josh Gad, who voice characters in The Angry Birds Movie, chose to do so, so that their children can watch it

There is a multitude of reasons an actor might choose to voice a character in an animated film. For Jason Sudeikis and Josh Gad, the biggest one was wanting their young children to be able to watch it.

Unlike most of their other projects - which include many raunchy comedies - the pair can safely take their respective broods to see The Angry Birds Movie, which imagines the backstory behind the bird-versus-pigs feud on the popular video game series of the same name.

Sudeikis and Gad are the voices of Red and Chuck, two birds forced to attend an anger management class after their outbursts disrupt life on an otherwise peaceful island.

The family-friendly film is a bit of a gear change for 40-year-old Sudeikis, who is best known for adult-rated flicks such as We're The Millers (2013) and the Horrible Bosses franchise (2011, 2014), comedies laden with references to sex and drugs.

But his attitude to his work changed the minute he knew he was going to have children with fiancee Olivia Wilde, who starred in the medical drama House (2007-2012).

Wilde, 32, gave birth to their son Otis two years ago and is now pregnant with baby no. 2.

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    The film-makers worked closely with Finnish game developer Rovio, which hatched the idea for a movie adaptation soon after the 2009 launch of the puzzle game. Most users play it on their smartphones and tablets.

    Since then, there have been more than a dozen different Angry Birds games and three billion downloads, making it the most downloaded mobile game in history.

    The movie, therefore, deserved a detailed "origin story of how this strange conflict came to exist between the birds and these green piggies", says producer John Cohen.

    He reveals that the action takes place on "an island that is only populated by these flightless birds, and it's a very happy place". "Because they can't fly, they've never left the island, and they're very comically naive as a result."

    One day, the birds are visited by a boatload of cute green pigs, whom they welcome warmly.

    A bird named Red (Jason Sudeikis), becomes suspicious of the pigs' intentions, but he is an outcast because, unlike of the others, he is quite irritable.

    When he loses his temper and is ordered to take anger management classes, he meets fellow hotheads such as Chuck (Josh Gad), who join him on a quest to find a mythical figure called the Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage) to help them solve the pig problem.

    "Mighty Eagle, as you may know from the games, is this heroic figure that, if you get stuck on a level, you can summon him, usually with a can of sardines, and he will come in and wipe out the level for you and defeat the pigs," Mr Cohen says.

    The animated movie has soared to the top of the box office in the United States and 47 other markets where it opened last week, earning more than US$150 million (S$207 million) worldwide - twice its US$73 million budget. Some analysts believe it is on track to become the most successful video game movie ever.

    Mr Cohen says that Rovio will also be releasing brand new Angry Birds games that tie in with the movie.

Asked which of his movies he wants to the children to see first, he quips: "I want my kids to see We're The Millers first. No, Horrible Bosses."

The actor's face lights up whenever he mentions his son, and says he cannot wait for the boy to be old enough to watch The Angry Birds Movie, which opens in Singapore tomorrow and also features the voices of Game Of Thrones star Peter Dinklage and Veep actor Tony Hale.

"That's part of the delight. I'd done an animated movie before this, Epic in 2013, just because I liked the character.

"But this was the first animated movie where, from the beginning, I knew he was coming. And I was excited about him - like, I was excited about the towel we were bringing him home in, when he would come out of the bath, all those little things. You can't help but factor them in. It's neat."

Co-star Gad has had a similar career track, appearing in sexually charged comedies such as The Wedding Ringer (2015) and Love & Other Drugs (2010).

In a separate interview, the 35-year-old reveals these movies are off-limits to Ava, five, and Isabella, two, his daughters with wife, actress Ida Darvish, 41.

"They definitely didn't see The Wedding Ringer. And most of my resume is probably not safe for their viewing."

But, he adds with a smile, "they have seen a little movie called Frozen more than once".

The 2013 Disney film was a mega-hit, of course, and is still the highest-grossing animated movie, with more than US$1.2 billion earned worldwide.

Since voicing Olaf - the sweet but clueless snowman who dreams of experiencing summertime - Gad has developed a special relationship with the movie's young fans.

But it took a while for this other identity of his to sink in with his older child Ava.

"In my day-to-day life, I record so many messages for kids as Olaf - it's just what I do for charity or whatever. And I realised I'd never really done that or the voice for her.

"When I was shooting a movie in London, she heard me recording Olaf's voice for another kid - she put two and two together and started howling, she was so tickled by it. And so now my nightly ritual is I say goodnight to her and then I give her a warm hug as Olaf. I don't know if she thinks if I'm an egomaniac for doing that, or just like laughing because she's like, 'Oh god, that's so embarrassing, why are you doing this?' But it seems to really tickle her in a way that's wonderful to share with her."

So when he chooses his movies now, "I always try to do one for me, one for them". "That why I'm doing Beauty And The Beast," he says of the upcoming live-action adaptation of Disney's 1991 animated musical, which stars Emma Watson and Dan Stevens and is due out next year.

When Gad was filming his role as the sidekick LeFou, his girls "were getting a chance to walk around these majestic sets where they're basically being transported to the beast's castle and that's a movie that's very familiar to my older daughter.

"So I definitely try to choose movies like Angry Birds or Frozen so they don't have to wait to grow up to see them.

"Because if I have my way, I'll never let them watch certain things I've done. Like, Daddy running around naked is not something you need to see," says the performer, who has a graphic nude scene in The Wedding Ringer.

Sudeikis and Wilde are also being extra careful about which aspects of their work Otis and their second child are exposed to. The actor says they have already agreed to restrict which films and TV shows the kids will be allowed to watch.

"It sounds like a joke, but both Olivia and I were like, 'Okay, he can't think that we're in all the movies.

"It's like taking him to his first basketball game and letting him sit courtside. Oh no, that's not going to happen until, like, his ninth birthday, and that's it, and he has to earn it the way we have, years later."

•The Angry Birds Movie opens in Singapore tomorrow.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2016, with the headline 'Dads proud to be angry birds'. Print Edition | Subscribe