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Exclusive: John Leguizamo, Skyler Stone, Justin Long on 'Walking With Dinosaurs'

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Today, Dec. 15, was on the red carpet for a New York special screening of "Walking With Dinosaurs," which hits theaters on Dec. 20. With its stunning visuals and lovable characters, "Walking With Dinosaurs 3D" allows for childrens' wildest imaginations to run wild as the screen provides a whole new world to become part of. Starring Justin Long, John Leguizamo, Skyler Stone and Tiya Sircar, the film is a movie adaptation of the 1999 BBC Series "Walking with Dinosaurs." Based on the story of Patchi (Long) learning to overcome his shortcomings and learning to deal with the people around him. The movie is great to bring your kids to. It’s filled with jokes and plenty of educational facts, that will be sure to let your kids explore the world of dinosaurs. And the best part is that the children are basically learning all while they delve into the story at hand.

Check out our exclusive interviews from today's red carpet below:

John Leguizamo

Tell me about your character.

There’s a lot of newly discovered dinosaurs in this movie where one is the Pachyrhinosaurus that Justin Long plays and I play an Alexornis that they found in Mexico. It’s the first reptilian bird, kind of like the first parrot.

What was it like working with the director?

Tim Hill was a blast and it was great spending time with him. He’s an old school voice over guy and he loves imitating me or we’re doing a voice-off where we see who can do the most crazy cartoon voices or old school doing the Popeye. *He then proceeded to do a spot-on Popeye laugh*

What were the challenges of filming due to the film’s style?

It’s not 3D, it’s the latest technology of animation and it’s actually photo realism, so you think as if you’re really there. And the production team of Avatar did all the scenery and they shot in Alaska and New Zealand, so you feel like you’re watching a documentary.

Can you tell me about any stories that happened on set?

Well, there were a lot of dudes there and we went to Shake Shack and it was a closed booth so you can use your imaginationn - it was a lot of fun… funky smells that would happen after a while.

Do you have any holiday plans?

We celebrate everything - Ramadan, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas because I’m not taking any chances.

Skyler Stone

Tell me about your character.

Well my character’s name Scowler and he’s very intense and very loud. *Screams* I don’t know where they got the idea to cast me. I’m kidding, but it was very exciting to get the call. They said, ‘Do you want to be in a movie?’ and I said, ‘Of course. What is it?’ And they said, ‘Well, we can’t tell you what it is.’ So I had no idea what it was, and when I came in for voice work the first day, I didn’t know the title, or the character name and I didn’t know how to be part of it. And I walked in and I started creating, and before I knew it, I told one of the guys, ‘You guys are doing an adaptation of "Walking With Dinosaurs," that was the show back in the day. And they said, ‘Yes, you’re not supposed to know that, yet.’ It wasn’t until the third day that someone would confirm what it even was, so it was pretty exciting to be part of something so secretive. I felt as if I was in a George Lucas movie.

What were the challenges of filming?

Well, for recording the challenges were that the animations were done and they didn’t want to remake anything, so there were times for when the script would call for a line and they wanted it delivered and you had to not only be funny or have the emotion the scene called for, but you had to get it done in the right amount of screen time. Usually, it’s the other way around, usually you record your voice and they animate around it, but this was the other way. So there were times where I had to speed up or slow down or add words or come up with something new because it wasn’t working, so it was a lot different than other animated films.

What was it like working with the director?

Oh, it was amazing. Tim Hill is someone I’ve always wanted to work with. I had auditioned for "Alvin and the Chipmunks," a long time ago and I didn’t get the role, but he was such a cool guy. Sometimes you get a director that’s really cool on the call back and you’re like, ‘Aww man, if I don’t this with him I hope I get something with him some day.’ And he also directed "Muppets from Space" and I’m a huge Muppets fan, so I kind of geeked out and asked him a bunch of questions. Too many questions. There’s a restraining order now because of the Muppet questions I asked.

Any fun stories from set?

Yeah there were times where I would come into the studio and we would have inside jokes you know. You would have to watch the movie, but the way I say “Patchi” is where I started to laugh at. Because a lot of my lines ended with like, ‘Yo, come over here, Patchi,’ ‘Hey, what are you doing, Patchi?’ I got tired of saying Patchi, so I started adding this sort of emphasis, like, ‘Come here, Patchi.’ So the whole movie I was saying it that way since I was sick of saying Patchi and it became a motif in the movie.

What’s a message the film will have for its viewers?

Well, what I’m really excited for because I have two kids - a stepdaughter and a stepson and they have a rivalry that’s going against each other and this movie is all about sibling rivalry. And in this movie, you get to see them clash - literally clash physical heads against each other. And they emotionally clash heads and I don’t want to give it away, but they both learn a lesson.

Justin Long

Tell me about your character.

Well his name is Patchi and he’s an Pachyrhinosaurus and he’s the runt of the litter and he lives in a kind of insular world and he somehow gets out of that world and discovers everything that’s out there and has an adventure. It’s a coming of age story. So this underdog character has to persevere and find inner strength. It’s a very classic story, but told in a very realistic and creative way.

What were the challenges of making this film?

So it was a little bit different. It was restrictive in that we only had a limited screen time to work with, to insert the dialogue, but it was easier and liberating in the sense that you got to see the mouths moving. So you got to make up, I mean there was funny stuff written, but we got to play with what was there. We got to play with the dialogue and insert whatever we wanted in the allotted time. It presented obstacles but it was also somewhat freeing to make up your own stuff. It was kind of like that movie "What’s Up Tiger Lily," that Woody Allen movie or "Mystery Science Theater" where we had the freedom to plug in whatever came up.

What was it like working with the director?

Tim Hill was the one I worked with because by the time it came to where we kind of “Americanized it,” I guess Tim had been brought on and I came on. And Tim and I have a really great shorthand - I think he’s one of the greatest directors I’ve worked with. We’ve worked together on "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and we just get along. Our senses of humor are aligned.

What do you think the message of the film is?

Well I think there are a couple. I think one is the classic “believe in yourself” and your kind of inner will and strength will persevere over great physical and emotional odds. I think it’s just finding yourself and finding your own inner strength. Because the guy I play is a little runt and is the underdog, so it’s overcoming the odds and you’ll figure it out.

After the screening at Cinema 1,2,3 guests headed to Twentieth Century Fox's official after-party at Dylan's Candy Bar.

Catherina Gioino contributed reporting.


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