There was a lot to love aboutDreamWorks Animation’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, but the unexpected scene-stealer extraordinaire award goes to Perrito, the earnest wanna-be therapy dog voice by Harvey Guillén (What We Do in the Shadows).
Literally the underdog of the whole film, Perrito’s compassion and enthusiasm is the beating heart of the story, so much so that he eventually wins over the chilly hearts of Puss (Antonio Banderas) and Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek).
RELATED: Stream Puss in Boots: The Last Wish right now on Peacock
Both a box office hit and Academy award nominated, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is now exclusively available to stream on Peacock. To celebrate its mighty arrival on streaming, SYFY WIRE got on a Zoom with Harvey Guillén to reminisce about his early days with the character, how he figured out his voice, the first time he saw what Perrito would look like and what souvenirs he might have kept from the experience.
Going back to when you were first cast as Perrito, how defined of a character was he? Or did that happen when you got into voice records?
I knew very little because his character is original to this world now. I was just a little more excited than anything to join the Puss in Boots world, but I just fell in love with the storyline. And the script is really great. And so to be part of it, and to be part of what this franchise is, is just amazing. It was a nice gift.
What was your first day of recording like? Were you nervous?
I was really nervous because it’s the first day of work, or like the first day at school. And so you’re really kind of like, “I hope they like it. Or, I hope everything goes smooth.” I think what really stands out to me is when I went to record at DreamWorks in the studio, I’m walking down this hallway with all the greats like Kung Fu Panda and Shrek, Puss in Boots, The Croods and all of these DreamWorks masterpieces. As you’re walking from this hallway to a studio, it’s like, “Wow, so many people have walked through this studio who [didn’t have] their poster up there yet. And eventually Puss in Boots: The Last Wish will become a poster, and then someone else will walk through here and add to this historic walkway.” That was a really cool moment for me and to walk around the DreamWorks campus was really nice.
How quickly did it take for you to find Perrito’s voice?
Well, I remember when the audition happened originally, they asked me to play with it, and be free with that. I know most people who do voiceover do their regular voice, like as their speaking voice. I didn’t think that my speaking voice fell into Peritto automatically. I felt that the way that I envisioned him as so energetic, that it would make sense that he was a tiny dog, to make his his pitch like an octave higher. And so I brought him up to a place where it was endearing and welcome. And it wasn’t laced with fear. There’s other characters that I’ve done in the past where the voices are lower, and they’re not welcoming. But with him, you could never feel intimidated, you can never feel scared. So I needed to have a voice that’s to the point of where it would kind of put you off for a second like, “Ugh, so positive and so much energy.” [Laughs.] But then when you fall into it, you’re like, “It’s not so bad. I’d rather hear this than hear someone who sounds negative and mean and dark.” That’s how I found the actual voice for him. And the director and I agreed that that was the way to go when we went with it.
When did you get formally presented with what Perrito would look like in the movie?
I think the first time was like maybe two sessions in. They showed me a clip of what he was gonna look like, “Here’s Perrito!” I remember I got teary-eyed because he is so adorable. It just meshed so well, the voice with what they did.
As you saw the animation progress, did you see any of you literally animated into Perrito?
Yes, I saw some of my features like when he’s talking. There’s a scene where he goes, “Ahhhhhh, okay.” I remember doing that in the room at the recording studio. I was making that facial expression while I was saying that so I was like, “I wonder if they took that from that moment?” I’m very expressive with my face, if you ever noticed. [Laughs.] It kind of carried over to the animated version of Perrito so that was nice.
Ok, how have you marked the moment with Perrito? Is there any Perrito swag in your house now?
I like to collect little things from every project I do. I just recently got a Perrito plush doll that they gave me. Universal was really sweet and DreamWorks are very generous and they just gave me this, so I’m going to keep that as a nice token of this experience.
The film is also available now on DVD and Blu-ray or on digital! Want more from DreamWorks Animation? Antz, The Prince of Egypt, Chicken Run, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Shrek, Shrek 2, Shrek Forever After, Shark Tale, Madagascar, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, and more are now streaming on Peacock.