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The Bad Guys' Zazie Beetz And Lilly Singh Discuss How They Developed Their Characters' Voices - Exclusive

At the heart of the CG-animated film "The Bad Guys" are messages about avoiding stereotypes and the power of redemption. The movie tells the story of a group of criminal animals who — after finally getting caught following countless heists — agree to prove they can turn good in order to avoid jail time. But not everyone in the film believes in them, and the characters voiced by Zazie Beetz and Lilly Singh fall on opposite ends of that spectrum.

On one side is Beetz's Diane Foxington as the newly elected governor, who approves the Bad Guys' deal to try to be good and genuinely believes they can change. While at first, the Bad Guys view her as a nemesis, the group soon learns she has a hidden past that makes her able to understand them more than they could have imagined. On the other side is Singh's Tiffany Fluffit, a reporter who sensationalizes the Bad Guys' unlawful activities to the point where her viewers are unlikely to believe the group could ever be anything but villains. Beetz and Singh spoke to Looper about developing the voices of their very different characters so they could fully convey each of their perspectives.

They had to define the characters through their voices

Diane Foxington proves to be one of the most layered and mysterious characters in "The Bad Guys," but according to Zazie Beetz, she didn't start out that way. "Initially, on the page, she was a bit more finger waggy and a little holier than thou and preachy," Beetz remembered. "We really wanted to try to get away from that, especially since a lot of her speeches are 'the Governor.' It was easy to make her sound aloof, and we played around."

Beetz and the filmmakers kept working until they finally arrived at the right voice for the character. "It took a few sessions to really find her voice and find something that felt like it married her past and her present," Beetz revealed. "When we did find it, it was such a cool springboard into her full character. There was a monologue that happens at the top of the movie where I riffed on it and after we taped that, everybody was like, 'Ah, that was it.' From that point on, we had found Diane. It was a cool moment for sure."

Meanwhile, Lilly Singh was worried that Tiffany Fluffit's narrow perspective on the titular criminal gang could make viewers turn against her character, so she infused her with a boisterous — and often very funny — way of speaking that ensures her time on screen is highly entertaining. "I was very adamant on Tiffany not being unlikeable, because I thought, 'Even though what she's saying is a little questionable and she's carrying on this narrative that everyone might not agree with, especially as a viewer, I still want her to come across fun and lovable so that people can see that she's not just evil and she's not just conniving,'" Singh shared. 

"[Tiffany] actually just really wants to be good at her job and she wants to be first on the scene and she wants to succeed and win. She actually believes these things," Singh explained. "I thought I could pair these questionable things she was saying with a very high, fun energy and a lot of facial expressions and a lot of hand motions. That was really easy for me because that's how I am in real life."

"The Bad Guys" is now playing exclusively in theaters.