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'The Secret Life of Pets 2': The story behind Patton Oswalt replacing Louis C.K.

·Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
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Animated animal fans emerging from The Secret Life of Pets 2 this weekend may find themselves wondering why the film’s canine hero, Max, sounds a little different in this sequel compared to the 2016 blockbuster. They’re not imagining things: For the second Pets adventure, Ratatouille star, Patton Oswalt, has taken over a role originated by Louis C.K.

After a November 2017 story in the New York Times detailed accusations of sexual misconduct against C.K., the studios behind the family-friendly franchise — Universal Pictures and Illumination — parted ways with the comedian and started the process of finding a replacement. By the following April, Oswalt inherited the gig. Asked by Yahoo Entertainment whether he was nervous about stepping into a role originated by someone else, Oswalt made it clear that he found it to be a smooth transition: “The character is so well-written and well-conceived on the page, that I could use that to key off of.” (Watch our video interview above.)

Pets 2 director, Chris Renaud, on the other hand, ‘fesses up to some initial nervousness about the vocal swap. “It’s worrying in the sense that you don’t know how it’s going to turn out,” he admits. “But I think once we started listening to Patton’s voice... it was clear that he was going to give us a great performance that was really in keeping with the character we established in the first film.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 20: Patton Oswalt attends "The Secret Life Of Pets 2" In-Store Experience at FAO Schwarz on May 20, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
Patton Oswalt attends The Secret Life of Pets 2 in-store experience at FAO Schwarz on May 20, 2019 in New York City. (Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images)

This isn’t the first time that Renaud has had to recast one of his animated characters. The director originally enlisted Al Pacino to be the voice of the villain in 2013’s Despicable Me 2, only to ask Benjamin Bratt to step into the recording booth to record an all-new performance mere months before the film arrived in theaters. In the case of Max, Renaud says he sees a certain continuity between Oswalt and C.K. “It is a Patton performance, but I think Patton’s version of Max is very close to Louis’s version of Max. They grow from the same place.”

That said, there is a specific moment where Renaud believes that Max fully becomes a Patton Oswalt creation: his encounter with a wizened sheepdog named Rooster, voiced by Harrison Ford. “There’s a great counterpoint between the character of Rooster and Max... that’s where you really see the Patton version of the character really shine.” That’s no surprise to Oswalt’s co-star, Jenny Slate, who returns as the voice of Max’s galpal, Gidget. “Everyone has to step up when you’re doing scene work with Harrison Ford. I showed up to work in a tuxedo and I never even met him!”

The Secret Life of Pets 2 opens in theaters on June 7. Visit Fandango for showtimes and tickets.

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