Tiffany Ward is the daughter of Jay Ward. She is one of the creators of the original series, served as an executive producer for Mr. Peabody & Sherman, whose job was to make sure the film stayed "true to the integrity of the characters." When she was approached by Rob Minkoff ten years before the film’s release, she was enthused by his intention to respect the legacy: "What better caretaker for the characters could we ask for than Rob." Lengthy pursuit to make the adaptation "perfect" took them a long time, but she was pleased with the end result, which stayed "very true to the original cartoon. And here is a very short interview with her that I had last month.
How long was it in your heart to foresee this project?
Ms. Tiffany Ward: Well, actually, my dad died way too young, in 1989. And I’ve been running the company 24 years. So, somehow I had a vision when I came in and I always wanted to do a Mr. Peabody and Sherman movie. But I found that everything has its time and when the things come together in the right way, which they have with this team and DreamWorks Animation, it becomes magical then. So, this was the right time for this property.
Can you tell us how you decided on Ty Burell as Mr. Peabody?
Ms. Tiffany Ward: I think it was Bill Damaschke’s idea to cast Ty Burrell . Ty Burrell was not included in that first group. For a variety of reasons, the ones that we had looked at first didn’t work out, didn’t make sense, weren’t quite right.
What are your thoughts on looking for talent in an animated film?
Ms. Tiffany Ward: In my experience working live action versus animation that when you cast an actor in live action, particularly a well known actor, but even one who isn’t as well known, you sort of get the value of that entire person’s being in terms of their appeal.
So, for instance, you could cast Bill Murray in a movie where he acts like a jerk and people go along with it because it’s Bill Murray. And there’s just something likable about him in the way that he smiles or the twinkle in his eye and you sort of go with it. But in an animated film, that appeal comes partly obviously from the animation, but it also has to come from the voice.
And something that Ty specifically brought, I think, that we really needed in this character was this incredible warmth in his voice. And some of the other actors that we thought were going to be right because they sounded very intellectual and they had a sort of an emotional restraint and all the stuff that you associate with him either sounded flat or nasty.
And somehow Ty, even when he was being emotionally withholding and not doing what we wanted him to do, as Mr. Peabody, he had a sort of a lovable quality to his voice. It’s interesting how much is held in the voice.