CULVER CITY, Calif., May 5, 2011 – Hugh Grant will voice the lead role alongside an all-star cast in The Pirates! Band of Misfits, the new stop-motion, 3D, animated film produced by Aardman Animations for Sony Pictures Animation. The film, which will be distributed by Columbia Pictures, will be released March 30, 2012 in North America.
Hugh Grant, starring in his first animated role, is the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain – a boundlessly enthusiastic, if somewhat less-than-successful, terror of the High Seas. With a rag-tag crew at his side (Martin Freeman, Brendan Gleeson, Russell Tovey, and Ashley Jensen), and seemingly blind to the impossible odds stacked against him, the Captain has one dream: to beat his bitter rivals Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) to the much coveted Pirate Of The Year Award. It's a quest that takes our heroes from the shores of exotic Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London. Along the way they battle a diabolical queen (Imelda Staunton) and team up with a haplessly smitten young scientist (David Tennant), but never lose sight of what a pirate loves best: adventure!
The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Aardman's most ambitious stop-motion film to date, will be created with the same beautiful hand-crafted technique that the company brought to the Academy Award®-winning film Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Chicken Run. The film is directed by Peter Lord, a founding partner of Aardman, director of Chicken Run (with Nick Park), and a two-time Academy Award® nominee for his short films at the company. The film is co-directed by Jeff Newitt. The screenplay is by Gideon Defoe, based upon his books. Production Designer is Norman Garwood. Producers are Peter Lord, David Sproxton, and Julie Lockhart. Executive Producer is Carla Shelley.
Commenting on the announcement, Lord said, "I'm so grateful to the entire cast for their talent and energy. The characters that they've created fill the screen with life and fun. As the Pirate Captain, Hugh Grant has given a stand-out performance – he combines an effortless on-screen warmth with brilliant comic timing. And as the leader of our motley pirate crew, he shows a real barnstorming, swashbuckling side of his character as well. Only Hugh could anchor this story of love, loyalty, greed, and nautical high-jinks."
HUGH GRANT most recently starred in Did You Hear About the Morgans?, Music and Lyrics, American Dreamz, Bridget Jones's Diary and its sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, both with Renee Zellweger; the ensemble comedy hit Love Actually, and Two Weeks' Notice. He won a Golden Globe Award and a BAFTA for his performance in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and was nominated for Golden Globes for his performances in Notting Hill and About a Boy. His many other feature film credits include An Awfully Big Adventure, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, Sense and Sensibility, Mickey Blue Eyes, Small Time Crooks, and Extreme Measures, which he also produced.
MARTIN FREEMAN has worked extensively in theatre, television, and film. He will soon begin production in the title role of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit. His many film credits include Swinging with the Finkels, Wild Target, Nativity!, Nightwatching, Hot Fuzz, Dedication, The Good Night, Breaking and Entering, The All Together, Confetti, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Love Actually, and Ali G Indahouse. Theatre includes "The Exonerated," "Blue Eyes," "Kosher Harry," and "The Comedians"; Freeman's last stage performance was late 2010 in the smash hit "Clybourne Park" by Bruce Norris at the Royal Court. Television includes The Office (BBC – Stephen Merchant, Ricky Gervais & Nick Jones), "Micros Men" (BBC – Saul Metzstein), "Boy Meets Girl" (ITV – Alrick Riley), "The Robinsons" (BBC – Mark Bussell & Justin Sbresni), "Hardwear" (ITV – Ben Kellet), "Charles II" (BBC – Joe Wright). Last year Martin starred in "Sherlock" playing Dr Watson opposite Benedict Cumberbatch, produced by Sue Vertue for BBC.
DAVID TENNANT is best known for his three seasons starring in the BBC's "Doctor Who" – and was voted by the fans as the Best Doctor in the long history of the show. Tennant's many film roles include the forthcoming Fright Night and The Decoy Bride, as well as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, St. Trinian's II: The Legend of Fritton's Gold, Glorious 39, Bright Young Things, LA Without a Map, and Jude, among others. He also voiced a role in How to Train Your Dragon. His television work includes the BBC's forthcoming "United" as well as "Hamlet," "Einstein and Eddington," "Learners," "Recovery," "Secret Smile," "Casanova," and "Blackpool," among many others. In June, he will star in "Much Ado About Nothing" in the West End. Other theatre includes "Hamlet," "Love's Labour's Lost," for the Royal Shakespeare Company, "Look Back in Anger," and "The Pillowman" at the Royal National Theatre.
IMELDA STAUNTON is an Academy Award® and Golden Globe Award nominee for her performance in the title role of Mike Leigh's Vera Drake, which also earned her a BAFTA Award, among other honors. Her many film credits include Alice in Wonderland, Taking Woodstock, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Shakespeare in Love, Nanny McPhee, Much Ado About Nothing, Peter's Friends, Twelfth Night, Freedom Writers, Crush, Bright Young Things, and Antonia and Jane. Her voice was heard in Chicken Run, and she is currently voicing a role in Aardman's/Sony Pictures Animation's Arthur Christmas, set for release this fall.
Her television credits include starring in the series "Up the Garden Path," "Little Britain" (during the third season), and "Big and Small." She was a member of the repertory cast of the television series "Thompson," with Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, and Robbie Coltrane; and has starred in such notable miniseries and telefilms as "The Singing Detective" (written by Dennis Potter), "David Copperfield," "The Wind in the Willows," "Fingersmith," and, most recently, "Cranford." On stage, she has won two Olivier Awards, for Alan Ayckbourn's National Theatre staging of his play "A Chorus of Disapproval," and for Richard Jones' staging of Stephen Sondheim's musical "Into the Woods." Ms Staunton was also an Olivier Award nominee for her performance in Richard Eyre's Royal National Theatre staging of "Guys and Dolls."
JEREMY PIVEN's upcoming film projects include the ensemble thriller I Melt With You, the indie drama Drift, and Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World. Piven has received acting honors for his critically acclaimed portrayal of the slick, fast-talking super agent Ari Gold in the smash hit HBO original series "Entourage." For his work on the show, Piven won three consecutive Emmy Awards and garnered six consecutive Golden Globe nominations, taking home the award in 2008. In addition, Piven has been honored by his peers with six Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, earning three for his individual performance on "Entourage" and three more as part of the series' ensemble cast. In 2008, he made his Broadway debut in a revival of David Mamet's play "Speed the Plow." His many other film credits include Rocknrolla, The Goods: Live Hard Sell Hard Runaway Jury, Old School, Black Hawk Down, Serendipity, Rush Hour 2, The Family Man, Very Bad Things, The Kingdom, Singles, Smokin' Aces, and The Player. On television, Piven was a series regular on "Cupid" and "Ellen" and appeared numerous times on "The Larry Sanders Show." His credits also include the telefilm "Don King: Only in America."
SALMA HAYEK received an Academy Award® nomination, a Golden Globe nomination, a SAG nomination, and a BAFTA nomination for Best Actress for the title role in Julie Taymor's Frida. She is currently filming Here Comes the Boom with Kevin James. Upcoming projects include Puss in Boots, Americano, and La Chispa de la Vida. Her film credits include Grown Ups, Ask the Dust, Bandidas, After the Sunset, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Hotel, Timecode, Dogma, Fools Rush In, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Desperado. Hayek won an Emmy for her directorial debut, "The Maldonado Miracle," which she also produced. She also served as the Executive Producer on ABC's award-winning program "Ugly Betty," starring America Ferrera, based on the enormously successful Colombian series "Yo Soy Betty, La Fea."
BRIAN BLESSED's many film credits include roles in Trojan Women, Flash Gordon, Man of La Mancha, Return to Treasure Island, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Tarzan, Alexander, The Conclave, Day of Wrath, As You Like It, and Back in Business. On stage, he created the role of Old Deuteronomy in Andrew Lloyd Webber's highly successful musical "Cats," for which he received a SWET nomination. He also starred in the West End musical "Metropolis." While a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company he played roles in "Hamlet," "Henry V," and "Richard III." At the Royal National Theatre he appeared in "State of Revolution" and "The Relapse." He also played Henry II in "The Lion in Winter" and created the role of Baron Bomburst in the original cast of the hugely successful musical, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." His countless television roles include such productions as "I Claudius," "Z Cars," "The Three Musketeers," "The Little World of Don Camillo," "My Family and Other Animals," "Blackadder," and "Tom Jones."
BRENDAN GLEESON's many credits include his starring role in The General, which gained him awards for Best Actor at the 1998 Boston Society of Film Critics Awards, Best Actor at the 1999 ALFS (London Film Critics' Circle Awards), and the Best Actor in a Male Role at the 1999 Irish Film and Television Awards. Gleeson also starred in Braveheart, Mission: Impossible II, AI: Artificial Intelligence, The Tailor of Panama, Country of My Skull, 28 Days Later…, Gangs of New York, The Village, Cold Mountain, Kingdom of Heaven, Breakfast on Pluto, Troy, Black Irish, Studs, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One, The Tiger's Tail, Beowulf, and In Bruges, for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. His most recent work is The Raven with John Cusack and Albert Nobbs with Glenn Close. Gleeson also won the Emmy award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in the HBO movie "Into the Storm." He most recently starred in Green Zone, The Guard, and Perrier's Bounty.
RUSSELL TOVEY is best known for his work as George the werewolf on the BBC series "Being Human." He also stars on the BBC series "Him and Her," which will soon begin its second season. Tovey first came to international attention in the role of Rudge in the theatrical, radio, and film productions of The History Boys. His many television credits include guest-starring roles on "Gavin & Stacey" and "Doctor Who" as well as roles in "Little Dorrit" and "My Family and Other Animals," among others. His theatrical credits include "A Miracle" at the Royal Court, "The Sea" at the Theatre Royal, "A Respectable Wedding" at the Young Vic, the title role of Tin Tin at the Barbican, and "His Dark Materials" at the National Theatre, among many others.
ASHLEY JENSEN's breakout performance came as the loveable loser Maggie Jacobs on the BBC/HBO series, "Extras," in which she stars opposite Ricky Gervais. For her work in "Extras," she has received two British Comedy Awards (Best Actress, Best Newcomer), the Golden Rose of Montreaux award, Best Actress at the Monte Carlo International Television Festival, Glamour Magazine's Comedy Woman of the Year award and she was nominated for a BAFTA and Emmy award. Other notable television work includes ABC hit drama "Ugly Betty" and the new CBS comedy series, "Accidentally on Purpose."
Jensen's film credits include Topsy Turvy for director Mike Leigh and Tristram Shandy, opposite Steve Coogan, for director Michael Winterbottom. She recently completed production on television drama "The Reckoning" and will next begin production opposite Maggie Gyllenhaal in new feature film Hysteria. Her voice may also be heard in Gnomeo and Juliet and in Aardman Animations'/Sony Pictures Animation's Arthur Christmas.
About Sony Pictures Animation
Sony Pictures Animation produces a variety of animated entertainment for audiences around the world. The studio is following its 2009 worldwide hit, the mouth-watering 3D comedy Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and the 2007 Academy Award®-nominated Surf's Up with a full slate of feature films including the live-action/animation hybrid film The Smurfs (3D) and the family comedy, Hotel Transylvania (3D). The division is also in production with Aardman Animations on two feature films, the CG-animated family comedy Arthur Christmas (3D) and the stop-frame animated high-seas adventure, The Pirates! Band of Misfits (3D). Open Season 3, the third adventure in Sony Pictures Animation's successful Open Season franchise, was released on DVD and Blue-Ray™ January 2011. Sony Pictures Animation is an operating unit of Sony Pictures Digital Productions.
Aardman, based in Bristol (UK), co-founded and run by Peter Lord and David Sproxton, is a world leader in animation. It produces feature films, television series and television commercials for both the domestic and international market. The studio has won over 400 international awards including 4 Oscars®.
Aardman's highly creative stop-motion style and creative sensibilities have proven popular with critics and audiences around the world. In 2000, Chicken Run, their debut feature, took in nearly $225 million worldwide; since then, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit grossed nearly $200 million and Flushed Away, their first CG feature, earned $176million. All three films have achieved enormous critical acclaim, with the three films earning a total of 27 Annie Award nominations (the animation community's highest honor). In addition, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was honored with the Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature. http://www.aardman.com. In addition to The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Aardman is also in production on the CG-animated Arthur Christmas.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Senior Vice President, Media Relations