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It was always about villain worship. Even before Chris Meledandri fell in love with the Despicable Me pitch by Sergio Pablos about a super villain charmed and reformed by three little sisters, he wanted to make his first independent animated feature about a baddie protagonist. Boy, did the goth Gru fit the bill with his scheme to steal the moon: Despicable Me, opening today from Meledandri's Illumination Ent. and Universal Pictures, is all about villainy and overcoming bad parenting.
Meledandri is shooting for the moon with Despicable Me. All images courtesy of Universal Pictures.
With a nifty concept, Meledandri hired Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio (Horton Hears a Who!) to write the script and Chris Renaud (No Time for Nuts) to be the director in charge of story.
"Gru is dastardly and commits crimes, but making him someone that you want to root for was the first hurdle," Paul recalls. "And the more we found these deliciously evil moments, the more successful we were. Finding ways a normal person wishes he could be a villain."
"We all wish we had a freeze ray gun to skip the whole process of standing in line at Starbucks," Daurio adds. "He has no idea how to deal with children: he's going to give you water, some candy and a newspaper to relieve yourself on."
But after running Fox Animation and overseeing Blue Sky, Meledandri was faced with new hurdles as a startup: where to find a studio?