The Bad Guys Director Pierre Perifel Talks Adapting the Books and More

The Bad Guys is one of the best animated films of the year. It was applauded by both critics and audiences around the world. This film is the first feature-length movie that Director Pierre Perifel directed, and you can’t get much better than this in terms of reception.

The movie is based on a series of books by the same name, however, it is quite different at times. We sat down with Pierre to discuss adapting the books for the screen, bringing on an incredible cast, and what it feels like to direct a hit movie.

How did you decide what was going to make it on screen, and what wasn’t?

PIERRE PERIFEL: The first book is all about the Big Bad Wolf saying on page three, meet the gang and guys, and we’re gonna go good. Which I think is amazing, because you understand exactly the mythology behind the Big Bad Wolf and all these animals that have been labeled as scary and bad. But you don’t understand why he wants to ‘go good.’

For the film, we needed to go back in time to explain why that decision was made. It would have been a little odd, especially because of the way we kind of designed our Big Bad Wolf, to not explain the genesis of this moment. This is where the difference starts really, between the books and the film. Because we started going there, because we also use the style of the heist movie genre, we pushed it so it feels a bit more genuine.

You obviously start diverging a little bit. This is why we didn’t follow the books verbatim. But what we did is use elements of the books — from the first three or four books in this movie — elements that are the most iconic elements of their adventure and try to fit them into this story.

We still wanted to just have a story that would not be exactly the books, but that would just totally match the universe of it. Throughout the process, we had Aaron Blabey, the author, with us on the team. He’s the executive producer of the film. Every month, we would check in with him, and show him what we’re doing and ask him, what do you think? We would get his feedback and blessing. Hopefully blessing. Sometimes it’s not a blessing, but most of the time, he was like, yeah, you guys are doing great, keep going. So having that stamp of approval from him was everything. It gave us creative license to go and explore it, which was awesome.

The Bad Guys was very well received by critics and audiences, how does that feel?

PIERRE PERIFEL: It’s insane. It’s fantastic. As an artist, as a filmmaker, that’s the score that you want to see, even more so than the box office. Because I’m just not a money guy. I’m the creator. I want my baby to be loved. I’m so proud and so happy of.

But mostly what’s most important is the reaction that I had from the families. The children and their parents. My own kids that are absolutely enthralled with The Bad Guys movie. They know every line by heart and they’ve been with me the whole time. They’re following me and just embarking on this journey.

But seeing the reaction of children to this film, them loving it and really understanding the plot — because there’s twists and turns that are not always easy to follow when you’re younger — and following it so well, but also a movie that totally works for adults because they get the references, they get the cleverness of the dialogue. They get to laugh at some of those jokes, that are updated a bit more for them.

That’s where, to me, the joy comes from. Honestly, when you work so hard and so long on something in your vacuum, the day you release your film is a terrifying day. You’ve done everything you could. You have a story to tell. And now it’s over. There’s not much more you can do.

So it is what it is. You’ve released this, and you just hope that people are gonna love it. So when it’s loved the way this one is, beloved, obviously, it is amazing.

Can you talk about bringing on this incredible cast?

PIERRE PERIFEL: It is definitely an incredible cast. It’s such a complex process. Casting is. We don’t do audition animation. So you’re just kind of trying to identify which actor would just be great for that character.

Then you create reels of what they sound like from their other work that they’ve done and put it against your character design, trying to gauge if the voice is right. What helped us massively was that in the script, in our story, we had very clear(ly) defined characters quite early on.

And the other thing that we wanted was a cast that was a cool cast, and not something that would be your kind of your usual suspects. Not in a deprecating way, but not big stars that you would think of for a heist movie. We didn’t want those guys, we wanted something that was fresh in a way. Different. Surprising.

Finding Sam, and finding Awkwafina, and all these guys, brought it to life. They all have their own strengths. And they are all so good at what they do, in their own way. Every single one of these guys is just incredible.

But the amazing thing is since the pandemic hit at the beginning of production, we had to record a lot of it online. From their homes. We sent them mics, and they recorded them at their places, which is horrible, because it’s not the best way to record a movie, right? The sound bounces around, it’s not clean. And then we ended up managing to get them in studios all over the world.

But on the plus side, we were able to actually record them together. They were each in their own places, but we were able to link them up on Zoom or whatever system. We had to be together on screen so they could play off of each other. And that was amazing.

Because first of all, it gives you a performance that is much more convincing than Sam reading his line and me reading with him, which I’m not an actor. And so therefore he can really dive into the role with his friends with fellow actors, and they’re so much better.

But also it gives you that naturalism and it gives you the ability to improvise. But what it also does is create a connection between them. They’re an amazing group of friends. They are so great together. And it’s a joy to see them, read together, and just have a, have a blast. I am super grateful for them and for DreamWorks and having the opportunity to work with people like this.

If you missed The Bad Guys in theaters, don’t worry. It’s currently streaming on most rental platforms and will be available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital June 21st!

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Featured Image Courtesy of DreamWorks.

Tessa Smith owns and is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic and a huge geek. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Hollywood Critics Association and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association. She grew up watching movies, playing video games, and reading comic books — and still loves all of those things. She proudly lets her geek flag fly and spreads the word that there is nothing wrong with being a geek.