The Smurfs 2

Actor Neil Patrick Harris talks about the return of the Smurfs to theaters on July 31

Jul 31, 2013 | By Kelli Plasket
COURTESY SONY PICTURES ANIMATION

Narrator Smurf (left, voiced by Tom Kane), Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters) and Smurfette (Katy Perry) in a scene from Smurfs 2.

Rated PG

Release Date: July 31, 2013 (in theaters and 3-D)

Directed by Raja Gosnell

Starring Neil Patrick Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Jayma Mays, Sofia Vergara, Hank Azaria

The Smurfs are back! In Sony Pictures Animation’s The Smurfs 2, the little blue guys head to Paris, France, after Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry) is kidnapped by the evil wizard Gargamel (played by Hank Azaria). Gargamel wants to use Smurfette to turn his own Smurf-like creatures, called the Naughties, into real Smurfs. But before taking on the City of Lights to rescue Smurfette, the Smurfs go back to New York City to ask for help from their human friend Patrick Winslow, played by Neil Patrick Harris, and his wife Grace (Jayma Mays). Over email, Harris answered questions from TFK about the Smurfs, filming in Paris and his magical hobby.

Patrick Winslow (played by Neil Patrick Harris) and Papa Smurf (voiced by Jonathan Winters) in a scene from The Smurfs 2.
COURTESY SONY PICTURES ANIMATION
Patrick Winslow (played by Neil Patrick Harris) and Papa Smurf (voiced by Jonathan Winters) in a scene from The Smurfs 2.

TFK:

In the first movie, Patrick Winslow was reluctant to let the Smurfs into his life.  What is his attitude when the Smurfs reunite with him in The Smurfs 2?

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS:

Patrick grew to love the Smurfs in the first film, so he was very happy to see them return to the Winslow house. Unfortunately, that happiness is short-lived when he learns that they need his help to recover Smurfette!

TFK:

What adventures do we have to look forward to?

HARRIS:

The Winslow clan heads to Paris, hoping to save Smurfette and foil the now famous Gargamel.

Paris is fantastic—historical, romantic, chic. It was a joy to wander the streets and eat delicious meals. Unfortunately, I was by myself most of the time. I will say that Paris is infinitely better when you have someone there the share it with. And when you speak the language...

TFK:

Which Smurf do you most identify with?

HARRIS:

I'd like to say Papa, but I fear my fiancé would say Vanity!

TFK:

If you could be a Smurf for a day, how would you spend it?

HARRIS:

Gazing at myself lovingly in the mirror. Oh no, I guess I AM like Vanity! I jest. I'd probably be more like Jokey Smurf and wander around holding a wrapped box for people to open and explode.

TFK:

Which scene was the most fun to film?

HARRIS:

The showdown with Gargamel at the Paris Opera House was exciting. The building itself is phenomenal. It's rare that they let U.S. production crews film there.  Plus, there was lots of action—leaping, diving, wire work. It's surprisingly technical, but I love that sort of thing.

Neil Patrick Harris, who plays the Smurf's human friend Patrick Winslow, promotes The Smurfs 2.
VICTOR CHAVEZ—GETTY IMAGES
Neil Patrick Harris, who plays the Smurf's human friend Patrick Winslow, promotes The Smurfs 2.

TFK:

What is the most challenging part of acting with imaginary characters?

HARRIS:

The most challenging thing is having to be so exact with your movements. Every take, every angle, needs to be precise so that they can add the CG Smurfs later. Yet you don't want to seem unnatural or like a robot. So keeping every take (looking) spontaneous yet super specific was most of the job.

TFK:

Why should kids go see The Smurfs 2?

HARRIS:

Kids should see Smurfs 2 because they loved the first film, own it, (have) watched it 50 times and need another fix. It's also, from what I hear, an even stronger film, which is unusual for a sequel. Oh, and there's a talking duck. That's always a draw.

TFK:

In addition to acting, you have also been performing magic tricks since you were a kid.Can you share any tips?

HARRIS:

Magic is a wonderful hobby. There's so much to learn, so much history. It requires patience and discipline. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was work hard and save my allowance so that I could visit the local magic shop and buy two or three new “miracles.” I loved knowing the secrets and not telling them to a soul. Then I'd go home, lock myself in my room and work in front of a mirror until I got the tricks down. I'd come out, gather my friends or family and put on a show.  Great memories!