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Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman share The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux stars Matthew Broderick as the title mouse, and the great cast continues with Dustin Hoffman, Sigourney Weaver, Stanley Tucci, Emma Watson, Kevin Kline and William H. Macy.

Arresting animation

The other stars of The Tale of Despereaux are are perfect combination of creativity. Author Kate DiCamillo, whose 2003 book established itself as an instant children’s classic, and the animators who have crafted a piece of film that is equal parts compelling story and Renaissance painting, both deserve acclaim.

Roscuro (Hoffman), Princess Pea (Watson) and Despereaux (Broderick) plot

Matthew Broderick in the studio recording DespereauxMatthew Broderick, as he is playing Despereaux — a mouse — we figured it was fair game to ask about his favorite cheese.

“I like Parmesan, actually,” Broderick says and laughs. The Tale of Despereaux star portrayed a cheese maker in The Night We Never Met.

“I got to work in the cheese department at Dean and DeLuca’s with the guys who sold cheese,” Broderick says as he smiles speaking of training for a role. “They said Parmesan, so I say Parmesan.”

Besides a passion for cheese, Despereaux has a passion for life, unlike any mouse that has come before him. “He’s a mouse and he does not behave like one and he gets in a lot of trouble for it,” Broderick says. “In this movie, the mice, they have to be taught to cower and be afraid. It doesn’t work on him and gets into more and more of a mess — gets out of it.”

Despereaux has charmed readers of DiCamillo’s book in how he’s a hero without ego. “He’s good hearted. He’s not arrogant,” Broderick says. But, let’s be clear, he is a little rebel.

“He’s just brave with a little bit of teen angst,” Broderick says and laughs.

Broderick’s baby

Wife Sarah Jessica Parker and Broderick’s son, James, was eager for his dad to tackle Despereaux, but worried that his father was heading into too feminine waters. The entire ‘Once Upon a Time’ thing traditionally has that feel!

“Usually the story will have princesses and knights. I love those stories when I was little,” Broderick says. “Emma (Watson) is the princess in The Tale of Despereaux. My son, being a boy, is always scared there’s going to be too many princesses in things like this. He says, ‘is it very princess-y?’ No – it’s not too princess-y! I took him, and he adored it.”

The family awaits in The Tale of Despereaux

Broderick marveled as his son gazed at his father’s most recent big screen work. “He just followed along and asked a lot of questions,” Broderick says. “He was worried about Despereaux. But, by the time it ended, he was satisfied that everyone was alright.”

Dustin Hoffman at work on The Tale of Despereaux

Dustin Hoffman’s a rat!

Hoffman’s character shares species with Despereaux, but his Roscuro is no where near cute. “He’s a rodent. Like any rodent, he has conflicted feelings about God making him that as opposed to a Labrador Retriever,” Hoffman says and laughs. Broderick’s Despereaux is the moral compass of the film and although Roscuro may flirt with the dark side, the noble mouse lures him back to the light. “I’m kind of the black sheep of the group,” Hoffman says of Roscuro. “Despereaux teaches me lessons — like being noble and honest and to not tell lies.”

As any quality animated film should, the lessons are present, but not heavy-handed. Did Broderick find any scenes in the film that brought back memories to his childhood? Yes, in fact, it is one we call can relate, parent-teacher conferences.

“I can remember trying to pass the time while your parents are talking to your teachers about what is wrong with you,” Broderick says. “Despereaux is on that playground thing that spins around and you’d be doing anything just to keep your mind going. That scene really resonates with me.”

The Tale of Despereaux is a modern tale in how it handles emotions, but its ‘Once Upon a Time’ pedigree is firmly in tact with a cinematic feel that is uniquely timeless fairy tale.

“It’s modern in a way because there are a lot of modern ideas about blame and guilt and things like that. But, it’s classic because of how it stays in that time,” Broderick says. “There are no modern references like Shrek. It’s a pretty straight forward fairy tale.”

Up next…Remarkable stills from The Tale of Despereaux.

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