2013 Summer Movie Guide

Turbo's Pal

TFK chats with Michael Peña about his role as Tito in the animated film Turbo

July 17, 2013
DREAMWORKS ANIMATION

Speedy snail Turbo (center, voiced by Ryan Reynolds) gathers with his new friends and pit crew in a scene from Turbo.

PG

Release Date: July 17, 2013

Directed by David Soren

Starring Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña

No one feels the “need for speed” more than Turbo. In the upcoming animated 3-D Dreamworks film, the tiny garden snail, voiced by Ryan Reynolds, dreams of becoming the greatest racer in the world. His ambition makes him an oddball in his slow and cautious snail neighborhood until a freak accident gives him the power he’s been looking for.

Actor Michael Pena voices Tito in Turbo.

GRAHM WHITBY—ZUMAPRESS.COM
Actor Michael Peña voices Tito in Turbo.

On Turbo’s journey to the Indy 500, he meets Tito, voiced by Michael Peña. Tito, the lovable and naïve co-owner of a taco shop, believes in his new friend. He decides to help Turbo raise money and turn his dream into a reality.

Peña spoke to TFK about his role in the underdog story. “It’s really funny,” he told TFK. “And who doesn’t want to see a racing snail?”

Turbo speeds into theaters July 17.

TFK:

Could you talk a little bit about Turbo?

MICHAEL PEÑA:

Almost two years ago I got the call to read a script about a snail that wants to be an Indy 500 racer. I play the guy who is his number one fan. I push him through. I champion this snail to be in the Indy 500. He ends up going —whether he wins or not, you’ll have to wait to see the flick.

TFK:

What can you tell us about Tito, your character in the film?

PEÑA:

Tito and his brother are co-owners of a company called Dos Bros Tacos. It’s hard to raise money when you sell tacos—even enough to pay for the registration fee for the Indy 500—but that’s what he ends up doing. He’s really optimistic and very earnest. He’s a very humble guy. He’s the kind of guy that says, “Hey, how about we do karate and eat tacos? Tacorati!” He’s always thinking of the worst ideas. This time he thinks: What if we joined the Indy 500? He is a dreamer and he’s trying to make his dreams into reality.

TFK:

Are you at all similar to Tito?

PEÑA:

In order to become an actor, I came [to LA] when I was 19. I had that dream. I was acting for four months before that and I think with any artist there’s a lot of pressure. You just don’t know if it can happen. I still love the challenge of reading a new script. I envision the best type of performance I can possibly give, sometimes I even dream my parts. So, in that way I relate with him.

TFK:

Any notable differences?

PEÑA:

He’s a little bit more overweight than I am. He sells tacos. I act. He’s championing a snail. I love snails, don’t get me wrong, but I haven’t seen a fast snail.

TFK:

What is Tito’s relationship to Turbo?

Tito (voiced by Michael Pena) holds up his new friend Turbo (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) in a scene from Turbo.

DREAMWORKS ANIMATION
Tito (voiced by Michael Pena) holds up his new friend Turbo (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) in a scene from Turbo.

PEÑA:

He calls him his little amigo—which means little buddy [in Spanish]. It’s a really interesting dynamic. He doesn’t understand the snail, but the snail kind of understands him. He just cheers for this little guy and wants him to win, and they become really good buddies.

TFK:

Turbo is obsessed with speed and racing. Are you a fan?

PEÑA:

I am. I just started watching more of it. It’s unbelievable. These guys have to stay hydrated in those hot cars— it’s like a sauna. I was into monster trucks as a kid, but now it’s any kind of racing. I think humans basically have the need for speed.

TFK:

In Turbo, there’s a group of ragtag, trash-talking racing snails that give Turbo a hard time. What do they add to the film?

PEÑA:

It goes into the world of snaildom. It’s necessarily sometimes to have those people, so you have a goal almost. Success is the sweetest revenge sometimes. They offer a little bit of competition in the beginning. But, by the end they think, “Wow this guy is just on another level.”

TFK:

What was your favorite scene to record?

PEÑA:

The singing scene. I’ve never been sought after for a singing role. My agent asked, “Can you sing?” and I said, “Yup.” They never asked if I could sing well. The directors didn’t think it was funny. They said, “We need you to be musical!” I said, “Look, I can try!”

TFK:

Why do you think kids will enjoy Turbo?

PEÑA:

It’s an underdog story. You have to live out your dreams and go for what you want. Don’t let anyone knock you down. My kid loves Dreamworks movies. This one has a lot of heart and is really funny. And who doesn’t want to see a racing snail?


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