Last night the inside of Event Cinemas on George Street was transformed to look like an animated version of China for the Sydney premiere of Kung Fu Panda 2, which was held as part of the Sydney Film Festival. Traditional Chinese dragon dancers and musicians hit the red carpet ahead of stars Jack Black, Lucy Liu, director Jennifer Yuh Nelson and DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, while a life-size version of Po the panda also made the rounds to entertain young guests. Jack hammed it up for the cameras by showing off his best kung fu moves, while we chatted to Lucy, Jennifer and Jeffrey about bringing the popular panda hero and his friends back for a second outing. Lucy said voicing Viper for the sequel was “nice because you feel like you’re coming home,” and that it was much easier to ease into the role a second time. Many Aussie stars who attended saw the premiere as an opportunity to treat the whole family to a night out — especially those with young kids, such as Kylie Gillies and Peter O’Brien.
Keep reading for more from Lucy, Jennifer and Jeffrey . . .
Lucy Liu on her favourite thing about the world of Kung Fu Panda: “I love that it’s set in China and they really have been so precise with the research and the landscaping, and the way they make noodles and eat noodles . . . There’s a quality about the culture that’s preserved which I can really appreciate.”
Jennifer Yuh Nelson on what it felt like to be asked to direct Kung Fu Panda 2 after storyboarding the first movie: “It was very intimidating because I wanted to make sure I didn’t mess it up. Also because the crew are all people that I work with for many years. They were all very supportive so I felt I had a very great safety net.”
Jeffrey Katzenberg on whether it’s harder to bring out a sequel or original movie: “Each has their challenges. When you’re dealing with a sequel you have to raise the bar, you have to offer the audience something new — you know, really surprising and unexpected, and at the same time deliver on what happened with the characters we fell in love with in the first. Doing an original movie is difficult in that you’re trying to find those characters and define those characters, and so I don’t think one is any easier than the other. They’re equally challenging.”