We chat with Kelly Marie Tran and Clark Duke, stars of The Croods: A New Age

Teng Yong Ping
·Lifestyle Editor
·5-min read
The Crood family in The Croods: A New Age.  (Movie still: United International Pictures)
The Crood family in The Croods: A New Age. (Movie still: United International Pictures)

SINGAPORE — It’s been seven long years in the making, but the sequel to The Croods is finally here.

In The Croods: A New Age, the Crood family sets out to search for a safer home and clashes with a more technologically advanced family, the Bettermans. Eventually, both families have to overcome their conflict to deal with an even bigger threat.

The star-studded cast of the first film has returned, with Nicolas Cage as Grug Crood; Catherine Keener as Ugga Crood; Emma Stone as their daughter, Eep; Ryan Reynolds as Eep’s boyfriend, Guy; Clark Duke as Thunk; Cloris Leachman as Gran; and Sandy, who is voiced by Randy Thom and Kailey Crawford. They’re joined in the sequel by Peter Dinklage as Phil Betterman, Leslie Mann as Hope Betterman, and Kelly Marie Tran as their daughter, Dawn.

Ahead of the movie’s opening in cinemas on 26 November, Yahoo Lifestyle SEA had a chat with two of the cast members, Kelly Marie Tran and Clark Duke.

Girl power

Tran, who rose to fame as Star Wars character Rose Tico, plays one of The Croods’ new characters, Dawn, an only child, who is the source of some romantic tension as her parents try and matchmake her with Guy and attempt to break apart Guy and Eep’s relationship.

The 31-year-old Vietnamese-American actress said about Dawn, “She's someone who hasn't seen much of the outside world outside of her house. Her parents are very aware of the dangers of living during this time, and they've been really protective with her. She meets Eep, and they go on adventures and she gets to experience what the world is really like for the first time.”

 Guy (Ryan Reynolds) and Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran) in The Croods: A New Age.  (Movie still: United International Pictures)
Guy (Ryan Reynolds) and Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran) are reunited. (Movie still: United International Pictures)

Although the Betterman parents want Guy to pair up with Dawn instead of Eep, Tran is glad that her character wasn’t written as a hostile rival over a love interest. “I think what's really cool about it is that she and Eep just get so excited to be friends, and to have a female counterpart. And I think that's really powerful, to have that represented on film: the idea that, yeah, girls don't have to be fighting over a guy, and they can be friends and supportive of each other.”

American actress Kelly Marie Tran voices Dawn Betterman in The Croods 2: A New Age. Photo provided by United International Pictures in November 2020.
Kelly Marie Tran voices Dawn Betterman in The Croods 2: A New Age. (Photo: United International Pictures)

Tran’s voice will be heard next in another major animated film, Raya And The Last Dragon, in which she plays a warrior girl in a mythical South-east Asian setting.

Although Tran got a lot of attention as Rose in the new Star Wars trilogy, she says she auditioned for her two animation projects like any other actor.

“Honestly, I think it kind of just happened without my control,” Tran said, laughing. “It is so fun to work in animation – to be able to sort of just be a kid and then play in that room... you're just able to use your imagination and improvise. I feel very grateful to be working on both of these movies.”

Thunk, Sandy and Gran in The Croods: A New Age.  (Movie still: United International Pictures)
Thunk, Sandy, Gran, and Chunky the Death Cat. (Movie still: United International Pictures)

The comic relief

Clark Duke (Hot Tub Time Machine, The Office) plays Thunk, the bumbling brother of the Crood family. Although Thunk isn’t a main character, Duke says he plays a big part in the film.

“Thunk has a lot of comedic stuff but he's also very much the heart of the film, in a lot of ways, because he is so innocent and loving. I think Thunk, in addition to being the comedic relief, also carries a lot of the emotional heft and sweetness of the movie too,” said Duke.

Asked what viewers can expect in part two of The Croods, he said, “I was blown away by how it looked visually, and how bigger and brighter and more vibrant it was compared to the first film. I also loved how tonally it’s much funnier than the first film. It's much more of a comedy than the first film was, which I enjoyed. Those would be my two biggest takeaways: it looks really visually stunning, and I thought it was much funnier than the first film.”

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 07:  Clark Duke arrives for the premiere of Showtime's "I'm Dying Up Here" Season 2 at Good Times at Davey Wayne's on May 7, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
Clark Duke voices the bumbling brother, Thunk. (Photo: Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)

Thunk’s storyline offers some commentary on a very modern phenomenon despite the prehistoric setting. “In the movie, Thunk creates what he calls a window, which is basically just a frame that's sort of a stand-in for a television or a tablet or an iPhone,” said Duke. “It's sort of a funny way to talk about how, in the present day, everybody is always looking at a screen, and not really looking at the world around them. He's kind of lost in a screen, and I think it's a fun commentary on a very modern thing with these very primitive characters.”

Duke shed some light on the process employed by director Joel Crawford (Trolls, Kung Fu Panda) and the actors in voicing the movie. According to Duke, Crawford gave the cast a lot of freedom to improvise and add their own spin to the characters in the recording studio. “I think he did a really good job of working with the actors and finding each character.”