Monday, April 27, 2015

One Actor Walks: Mads Mikkelsen Exits 'Kung Fu Panda 3'


It looks like Kung Fu Panda 3, less than a year away from its January 2016 release, has lost a part of its cast.

The film's director, Jennifer Yuh Nelson, was interviewed recently and she confirmed that Mads Mikkelsen, who would've been ideal as one of the films' two villains, is leaving the project. Thankfully the departure was over scheduling conflicts and not creative differences... (This has happened to DreamWorks a few times, most notably with Robert Downey Jr., twice.)

The plot synopsis has been updated, too...

"In 2016, one of the most successful animated franchises in the world returns with its biggest comedy adventure yet, Kung Fu Panda 3. When Po’s long-lost panda father suddenly reappears, the reunited duo travels to a secret panda paradise to meet scores of hilarious new panda characters. But when the supernatural villain Kai begins to sweep across China defeating all the kung fu masters, Po must do the impossible—learn to train a village full of his fun-loving, clumsy brethren to become the ultimate band of Kung Fu Pandas!"

Wow... Talk about going big or going home. No mention of Mei Mei, the panda that is arranged to marry Po, though I'm sure they haven't written her out. Also, why no mention of that other villain? Earlier synopses said that the other villain would be more "close to home", I guess - if you speculate about that - having something like that in the synopsis would possible spoil something big. Anyways, Kai was originally referred to as The Collector, and he was the villain that Mads was going to voice. Like the earlier plot descriptions, this one says he's supernatural. Will he be a mythical creature of some sorts? A supernatural version of an animal? A dragon?

Either way, the film still sounds amazing and hopefully Mikkelsen's replacement does a fine job. It could be, as pointed out by my Rotoscoper comrade Max den Hartog, J.K. Simmons, who joined the cast not too long ago. His role is still unspecified...

It makes one wonder when Mikkelsen exited the project. Was it recently? Or was it long before that? In the case of something like Despicable Me 2, Al Pacino left the project over creative differences pretty late in the game. They got Benjamin Bratt to take over the role, the villain. Honestly, the villain was one of the weakest things about the ultimately forgettable sequel. (This is coming from someone who likes the first film a great deal.) However, I think DreamWorks will do fine with or without Mikkelsen, it just would've been great to hear him voice the baddie...

Now if only that teaser/short film that was apparently supposed to be attached to Home shows up...

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