Ron Funches

*Comedian and actor Ron Funches lends his voice to Cooper the giraffe in the hilarious animated musical comedy of the year, DreamWorks’ “Trolls,” from the creators of “Shrek.” The film features original music from Justin Timberlake, and soon-to-be classic mash-ups of songs from other popular artists, the film stars the voice talents of Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Russell Brand, James Corden, Kunal Nayyar, Ron Funches, Icona Pop, Gwen Stefani, and many more.

Funches tells EUR/Electronic Urban Report that his character is “unique and weird, just like me.”

Just as the official website says, “Cooper is a rarity in Troll Village: a fuzzy giraffe-like Troll creature, with a goofy grin plastered permanently on his face. He’s the strangest member of the Snack Pack, but whatever he lacks in intelligence he makes up for in enthusiasm.”

“He poops cupcakes which is super dope,” Funches says. “And what drew me to it, and what was exciting for me about it was just that he was like… I’m a super happy, low-key guy in general and that’s kinda exactly what Cooper was. He was kinda this voice of happiness, and this voice of like, no matter what’s going on in your life, everything is okay, and that kinda really excited me. They also were like ‘Hey, Justine Timberlake and Anna Kendrick is in this movie.’ And I was like, ‘Let me be in it, please!’ And I love it, I’m excited. I saw it, it’s beautiful. I’m happy.

Check out the rest of our Q&A with Ron below:

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TROLLS poster

Were you able to put your comedic skills to use by improvising “a lot” of the lines?
RON: Absolutely! That was one of the best parts about the job was that they were very open to me adding lines, and changing lines and really just coming up with the best available options. I saw the premiere last week, and they used a lot of my ad libs in it and they got some good laughs and good reactions. One of my ad libs got, one of the best laughs of all of any of Cooper’s jokes. So it really makes me happy because I always want to be able to add to a project. I don’t want to just be on there just to do a voice, or just to read the lines. I like to be on a project and make it a little bit better because I was there, and I think I did, so I’m happy about it.

How do you go about adding depth and complexity to a character using only your vocals?
RON: Well, it is closer to regular acting than people think, because I know when I do it I still like to do all my mannerisms, and I’ll use my body a lot and I think that’s a lot of it. Sometimes you have to be really overly silly and be willing to make a fool out of yourself and just going back to be a kid again. That’s really fun about doing voice work. You get to be these characters where you’re just yelling and screaming and dancing a lot, but at the same time, you’re inside a little booth and sometimes that can get a little bit embarrassing, but you just gotta let that go and be yourself.

Do you have a nostalgic connection with the dolls? Ya know, any sisters or female relatives who played with them back in the day?
RON: Yeah, my sister had some Troll dolls for sure. I know the Trolls. I know the little jewels in their belly. I used to make them fight against my pro-wrestling actions figures. So I have a bit of a history with Trolls. When they told me about it, it was really a no-brainer. I was like, ‘You want me to be a Troll doll in a cartoon movie musical? That sounds right up my alley!’

You’re working with quite the caliber of star power on this film. Did you get to record scenes with any of your co-stars?
RON: Unfortunately, it was mostly in the booth with the producers, who are great guys, but they are no Justin Timberlake. When we did the songs, we got to work together a little bit more, and I got to go to Justin Timberlake’s studio and learn how to sing some notes from him. That’s going to be one of the highlights of my life. I’m going to remember that on my death-bed — hanging out with Justin Timberlake teaching me how to sing.

trolls movie

Poppy’s (center left with guitar, voiced by Anna Kendrick) rendition of “The Sounds of Silence” reaches its climax as a grumpy Branch (center right, voiced by Justin Timberlake) looks on in DreamWorks Animation’s TROLLS. Photo Credit: DreamWorks Animation.

Did you and Justin record any original music for the film, or is it all covers of popular songs?
RON: There’s both. There’s some individual songs. There’s his song from the summer ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’ that I did some singing on, and there’s another one called ‘Hair Up’ that I love because now when I go online sometimes, the radio stations are like, ‘The #5 song is ‘Hair Up,’ Justin Timberlake featuring Gwen Stefani and Ron Funches, and I get a kick out of that. And then there’s some really good remakes of some older songs. That’s what I love about the movie. The mix of the old and new songs that’ll hopefully make some new fans of some older music that I love.

What are some of the themes explored in ‘Trolls’? Is there an overall message?
RON: It’s just really about happiness, and what it means to be happy and how you hold on to your happiness, and that’s a great message for this time in our lives. There’s a lot of separation and there’s a lot of people who think you need to buy things or be rich to find happiness. This movie, the main message is that happiness is within you, and you have to hold on to it, fight for it, but you don’t need to buy it and you don’t need to look for it in outside sources. Your happiness is always within you, and I think that’s a great message for kids and adults.

Do you personally enjoy watching animated movies as an adult?
RON: Absolutely! It’s one of the best parts about having a son, is that I get to keep watching them without people looking at me weird. They’re not looking at me sideways when I show up to watch a movie on opening day. I’ve seen animated movies with and without my son several times. I love animated movies. They’re my favorite.

Can you summarize in one sentence why everyone should go check out ‘Trolls’ in theaters?
RON: Because it’s a hilarious, beautiful cartoon musical that has Ron Funches in it!

“Trolls” arrives in theaters today, Nov. 4.