Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets 2 is returning to the big screen with our favorite pet friends new and old. Moms.com recently had the opportunity to sit down and speak with actress Jenny Slate who plays Gidget, a Pomeranian and a loyal friend to Max (Patton Oswalt) who is willing to do anything for him. In Pets 2, many of the unique characters face challenges that force them to have to overcome their fears and embrace the lesson of trusting in themselves, including Gidget. In Pets 2, Gidget is entrusted to look after Max’s favorite toy Busy Bee. However, a misfortunate event leads her on a very unique mission to rescue the toy, but not without its own unique set of challenges. It’s her fervent loyalty to Max that initially motivates Gidget to go through such pains to recover the toy, yet Gidget later comes to learn that she has more inner strength than she ever knew. She devises a plan to go undercover as a cat to recover the lost toy and she learns many lessons along the way, especially about herself. In the interview below, Slate speaks candidly about her character Gidget, gratitude and the advantages of working in the voiceover booth.
What do you appreciate most about voicing Gidget in the Pets 2 film?
It was nothing, but fun to play Gidget again. It was very exciting to play a little hero and make sure that I found ways for her to be the boss in her own unique way. It’s precious to have been able to show the world that inner strength in her. In many ways, stepping back into Gidget’s paws felt like coming home. Similar to Gidget, I’m a relentless optimist, Slate says. Living on the sunny side of the street is the smartest move in my opinion, so playing this character felt like my comfort zone. I’m thankful. I have an immense desire to do what I do and very little feeling of entitlement to it. In voicing Gidget, I am truly grateful.
Gidget is privileged, yet she is loving and loyal to Max. What are some takeaways that you personally would share about the character of Gidget for parents and children?
I think that what makes Gidget special is that even though she does enjoy the finer things in life, she knows that the finest things in life are the things that connected the heart and that those are the things that make her into the best version of herself. I mean, yeah, she can sit around in the dishwasher all day and put cucumbers on their eyes and watch her soap operas that she loves, but she's really a hero when she connects to the things that help her feel a deep love, immaterial in material love. Yeah. Not Material, but yeah, like the love that you can't see, but you can feel it ends up being the most substantial.
While you have worked substantially as an onscreen actress. You’ve really carved out a space for yourself in voiceover. Do you find that being in the voiceover booth gives you more freedom?
I think that's totally right on. If I were to get on stage or be on camera and have to pretend to be a dog and work my physicality that way, there's just always the barriers of what I looked like as a human being. I'm not a dog, of course, but I think that there is a shedding that happens in the voiceover booth. It's a luxury to be completely attached to your personality, to be completely attached to what you want to do as a performer and to say that the way that you look or how you appear doesn't apply. And I think that as a woman those moments of total relief from whatever it means to present as female, feel really great. I don't have to worry about what anybody thinks, except for whether or not they liked the sound of my voice and what the cartoon dog is doing. Freedom from appearances is one of the advantages of voice work.
Gidget is pretty and pampered. What would you say to young girls and boys about beauty?
I would say pay attention to where your ideas of beauty are coming from. When you look at a flower, do you think it's beautiful because somebody else said, This is the best flower? This is what we think is beautiful. Or does it make you feel a feeling of wonder, gratitude and appreciation? And when you look at yourself, try to get to the very bottom of what you think is beautiful. Not what a man thinks beauty is, or a woman thinks is beautiful, or an adult thinks is beautiful. It's very, very hard to untangle those preferences and I think it's an important daily exercise. It’s a good daily practice to get involved in, because it really affects us.
Can you relate to the pets within the film?
I’m a pet parent! I have a dog. He’s really, really old. He’s 13 years old. His name is Reggie. If you look on my Instagram, you'll see a bunch of Reggie pictures. He is like almost blind. He is very old, and he has like only two teeth left. I am a dog person.
In your opinion, do you think that people who have pets have a heightened sense of sensitivity towards others?
If you have ever learned anything about elephants, pigs or dolphins you can observe just how sensitive they really are. Who you are towards those who can't speak for themselves, like pets, says a lot. That’s a really important question. Yes. I think our interactions with animals bring out our more sensitive sides. My best friend always says, “If you're like looking to meet a guy, you should really pay attention to how he treats animals and whether or not he recycles!”
Secret Life of Pets 2 premieres nationwide on June 7th.