Minion Man March: The Surprising Inspiration Behind ‘Despicable Me’s Loveable Little … Things
Jawas, minions, and Oompa Loompas -- Oh my! Photos courtesy of Universal Pictures and Everett Collections.
With "Despicable Me 2" poised to take over the box office this weekend, be prepared for a million Minion march.
Indeed, those little, loveable, yellow … things that help super villain Gru (Steve Carell) take over the world are omnipresent these days, front and center on the "DM2" marketing materials, which are front and center everywhere.
But while minions have become the poster children (literally) of the "Despicable Me" franchise, the little yellow troublemakers weren't part of the original plan at all. Minions, as we know them today, weren't even in the first draft of the screenplay.
Co-screenwriter Cinco Paul credits the film's directors, Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, for giving unintelligible voice and tic-tac shaped body to the minions. "Because in the script, we just said, 'Gru’s minions do this or do that' in the initial draft. And then, they came up with the characters’ design and the philosophical concept of the minions," Paul recently told Collider.
According to the LA Times, Coffin and Renaud wanted to beef up Gru's henchman to help draw out the comedy inherent in the mastermind's unlikely plan to steal the moon. So the directors looked for inspiration from some of the silver screen's most notable toadies, particularly the Oompa Loompas from "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" (1971) and Jawas from "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope" (1977).
While Coffin and Renuad may have had more vertically challenged henchmen in mind upon initial creation, Carell now looks at the minions as something else entirely. "People love them. They're never not fun. They are as close to a modern day version of the Marx Brothers as I've seen," Carell recently told Yahoo! Movies during the film's press junket.
Feeling the minion love, for the sequel, the filmmakers decided to make the minions more central to the story. According to Paul, he and fellow screenwriter Ken Daurio "just wrote as many scenes as we could with the Minions. Now we have Minions falling in love in this new movie and there’s the fire scene in Gru’s office."