Colbert 's 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman' casting bump

05:00 AM, Feb 09, 2014

Stephen Colbert records his vocal track for "Mr. Peabody and Sherman." Brian Friedman/


Written By by Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY

Casting conundrum for the upcoming animated film Mr. Peabody & Sherman: Who do you find to voice the part of a smug, over-confident parent?

Up steps Stephen Colbert, the man who has personified these qualities as the host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, where his role is to satirize conservative TV political pundits.

It was typecasting,” says Colbert, 49.

He jokes that he has longed to extend his TV character’s range to film: “I have looked into the mirror and asked, ‘Why won’t someone cast me as a smug, tight-assed know-it-all?’ “

Consider that a job done. The DreamWorks Animation production, opening March 7, features Colbert’s Paul Peterson as a dad who is not pleased about the relationship between the genius talking dog Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell) and Peabody’s adopted human son, Sherman (Max Charles).

Director Rob Minkoff, says he needed a parental figure who would help explain why daughter Penny Peterson (Ariel Winter) has some bad qualities.

We always thought, Penny has to get it from someone,” says Minkoff. “So it was probably more from her dad than her mom (Patty, voiced by Leslie Mann).”

It turns out that Colbert is a big fan of the original Peabody characters and their WABAC time-travel machine, who were featured on the early-1960s animated TV series The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show.

I bought it for my kids as soon as I could when the full DVD sets were out,” says Colbert. “And when I heard they were making the movie I said, ‘Put me in anything.’ “

It helped that Colbert had voiceover experience as The President in DreamWorks’ Monsters vs. Aliens from 2009. A Peabody scene where Peterson has his back adjusted brought out what Minkoff says was one of the longest, funniest voice takes he’s heard.

Colbert’s description: “I made a lot of noises and they repeatedly asked me, ‘Can you make more noises? Can you be in more pain?’ I shouted in a microphone for about 10 minutes and then they said ‘thank you.’ “

The character was animated to resemble Colbert, especially the signature newscaster-quality hair. “It kind of looks like a more fit (version of) me,” says Colbert.

The talk-show host has been gloating about his recent Grammy win (best spoken-word album, for America Again: Re-becoming The Greatness We Never Weren’t), and naturally sees great things for his film role.