Sarah Michelle GellarBack for another Scooby Snack
Saturday 3 April 2004, by Webmaster
Back for another Scooby Snack Apr 2 2004
Western Mail Reporter, The Western Mail
The world’s most famous cartoon sleuths got a live action makeover for the big screen in 2002. Now the Great Dane and his super crew have returned to make Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. ROB DRISCOLL teams up with the Mystery Inc heroes
Sarah Michelle Gellar plays Daphne
"Scooby Doo 2 is a stronger movie, the characters have more depth"
You’d think that starring as Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the small screen might have prepared Sarah Michelle Gellar more than adequately for her action-packed combat scenes in Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.
But the 26-year-old’s extensive martial arts experience from seven seasons of slaying sinister creatures on the world-conquering TV series counted for nothing when it came to her Scooby character Daphne’s valiant sword fight with the Black Knight Ghost.
"Everyone thinks my fight with the Black Knight Ghost must have been so easy because of all my Buffy training, but if anything it’s actually harder," says Gellar, who has a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do.
"I’m trained as a fighter but not a sword fighter. So to have to forget everything and just be Daphne up against this imposing enemy was a lot harder, considering it was very choreographed."
When one of the most popular children’s TV animation series of all time made the tricky journey to celluloid two years ago, Hollywood insiders were sceptical.
But Scooby Doo: The Movie went on to reap an astonishing $275m worldwide, paving a way for a sequel which had the luxury of inventing a more spectacular adventure as well as investing more in the heroic quartet’s character development.
"When you do one of these movies for the first time, the first 30 or 40 minutes is all about presenting the characters," says Gellar, who co-stars for the second time with her real-life husband Freddie Prinze Jr (he plays leader of the Mystery Inc. gang Fred).
"Scooby Doo 2 is a stronger movie, while the characters have more depth."
In the new movie, the crime-busting, ghost-hunting foursome have skyrocketed their way to superstar celebrity status in their home-town of Coolsville, USA.
In honour of their skills in solving all things mysterious, the gang is honoured at a red carpet affair at the Coolsonian Criminology Museum, where the costumes of all the creepy villains they have unmasked over the years are being exhibited for the first time.
Unfortunately, somebody with a serious grudge against the gang wants to take the costumes down and soon our heroes find themselves up against an anonymous masked villain with a monster machine that re-creates classic Mystery Inc. foes like the Pterodactyl Ghost, The Black Knight Ghost, Captain Cutler’s Ghost and the 10,000 Volt Ghost.
Working with her husband of two years on the Scooby Doo movies was the cream on the cake for Gellar.
"I always say any chance I get to work with talented actors I will take it, and he was the best," she says. "I don’t think I’d do it in a situation where it was about us."
It’s been nearly a year since the final series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer wrapped. Yet for Gellar, she still feels like she’s in a mourning period.
"In all truthfulness I don’t know if the enormity of it has actually hit me.
"We finished Buffy on April 16, and I started on Scooby Doo 2 on April 17.
"After completing the movie I thought I’d decompress a little and take stock to comprehend, and then I was home for a little bit, but then I left for Tokyo for another film project and it seems like I keep putting off dealing with it. But I will deal with it!"
Matthew Lillard plays Shaggy
"The leap of faith was much smaller on Scooby Doo 2"
There’s one very important critic that Matthew Lillard took along to the Los Angeles premiere of Scooby Doo 2 the other week; his 20-month-old daughter Addison.
And before you think she might be just a little young to appreciate the finer points of daddy’s performance as the eternally scared but goofily loveable Norville "Shaggy" Rogers alongside his canine companion Scooby Doo, think again.
"Addison was born the weekend that the first Scooby Doo movie opened in America, so that was the greatest weekend that anybody could have asked for," enthuses 34-year-old Lillard.
"And now, the first movie I ever took Addison to was Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.
"She’s grown up with Scooby Doo stuff in the house.
"I was over here in Britain for five months doing a play and before I left they had this big cut-out of Shaggy that was put near my hotel room, and she went up to the sign and went, ’Daggy?’ It was pretty cute - it broke my heart."
Lillard, still fondly remembered for his star-making role as a hyper-kinetic teen serial killer in cult comedy-horror Scream, is in many ways the true lead turn of the Scooby Doo movies.
"I guess Shaggy and Scooby are the heart and soul of the gang," he smiles. "One of the things that makes Shaggy and Scooby so appealing is that they’re not superheroes. They’re always scared and they’re always hungry. There’s a little bit of that in all of us."
Of all the actors on the set, Lillard knows best what it’s been like acting opposite a non-existent dog.
All the footage involving the computer-generated Scooby was added well after the players had shot their scenes - but Lillard is fast becoming used to running with his imagination.
"The leap of faith was much smaller on Scooby Doo 2. The first time around, we didn’t know how they’d make Scooby - would he look like a real dog? And it changed all the time too. It turns out the animators upstaged me at every single chance! I still think it’s the most difficult thing you can ask an actor to do.
"Acting is all about the energy between two people, the exchange, and comic timing."
Luckily for Lillard, actor Neil Fanning invoked the spirit of the ravenous Great Dane and delivered Scooby’s dialogue to provide emotional cues for all of the cast.
"I couldn’t have done it without Neil," says Lillard. "He was on set every day, and at least I had his voice to work with; that was invaluable."
In preparation for the extensive amount of comedy-based action that is required of ultra laid-back power eater Shaggy, Lillard turned to one of the masters.
"I watched a lot of Charlie Chaplin movies, and studied his whole style of physical comedy. I think that really helped my physical timing."
But one of the hazards of dedicating himself to the role so doggedly became evident this time around.
"Playing Shaggy twice now, I notice there’s a part of me that brings him home from work," says Lillard. "I find my voice continually breaks and I’ll raise my pitch an octave when I make a joke. But I generally don’t speak to the air, which is what I did on set all day!"
Linda Cardellini plays Velma
"You never know when your next job’s coming"
Meet Linda Cardellini in the flesh and you’d never believe this is the girl who plays frumpy brainbox Velma in Scooby Doo 2.
The actress is blonde, svelte and sexy - words which wouldn’t apply to the bespectacled, brunette, polo neck-wearing intellectual she plays on screen.
So when Velma starts falling in love - with like-minded museum curator Patrick Wisely (Seth Green) - and decides to woo him with an image makeover by squeezing into a tight red cat-suit, 29-year-old Cardellini had her work cut out.
"That cat-suit was hot," she says. "And by that I mean physically hot, not sexy!
"Velma jumps to the conclusion that Patrick likes her because he thinks she’s a mysterious jet-set adventurer, so with the help of the more image-conscious Daphne, she transforms herself into this glamorous Bond girl.
"Quite a few times when I was wearing that cat suit, I had to take a break, because I was sweltering!
"But it was a lot of fun, because it was so out of character for Velma and any of the awkwardness I felt wearing it was perfect for Velma’s character."
These days Cardellini’s star is shining, as she recently landed a major new role on the world’s most famous TV drama series, ER, as Nurse Samantha Taggart, a character yet to be seen by British viewers.
Commitments to ER’s filming schedule mean that Cardellini’s career on small and big screen requires a great deal of juggling.
"Basically the only time I have free from ER is in the summer, so that’s the time I get a chance to do whatever I want - whether it be a break, or make a movie," says Cardellini.
"In this business, you never know when your next job’s coming and if you’re having a lucky streak you’ve got to enjoy it while you can.
"My role on ER is one of the best roles I’ve ever had. Samantha is a single working mother, who’s also an excellent nurse, and she’s tough and independent. I was reading so many scripts, and I really didn’t come across anything that I liked as much as my role in ER. "Meanwhile, it’s great that I have something like Scooby Doo which could not be more different from what I do on ER."