Actor Billy Connolly doesn’t have to try too hard to make people laugh. That’s probably why he took up stand-up comedy 40 years ago. “I like to act, but that’s not the only thing I do,” he says in his heavy Scottish accent, which is tough to miss even when it’s coming from an animated character on the big screen. For his recent animated film, Disney Pixar’s Brave (which released last Friday), he lent his voice to the role of the king of Scotland (King Fergus). “I’m famous in Scotland as a comedian, but they tend not to come to me with roles like this.
When they asked me, I said yes naturally,” says Connolly, who admits he can’t do too many accents. “I’m not a character actor, so I don’t even attempt Indian or American; people would just laugh,” he says, adding that he enjoys the isolation while working in animation films. “People think that they do the animation first and then the voice is recorded. But the whole film depends on the voice; the animation is driven by it.”
His next project, one the world is waiting to watch, is Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, a two-part film. Connolly stars in the second part, titled The Hobbit: There And Back Again, while the first is titled The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
“I am working on that till July 7,” says Connolly. Trying hard to stifle his laughter, he adds, “I’m a dwarf warrior in it. Yes. I asked them whether they were going to shrink me. But this film is big, it will leave everybody dumbfounded.” As the conversation turns to India, Connolly sounds instantly charmed. “I can’t wait to come back.
I was in Maharashtra for a film, parts of which were shot in Mumbai. But it was never released due to financial problems.” He adds, “I used to eat like a cow every day, because dal (lentils) and chapattis are my favourite.” As for Bollywood, he claims he’s “used to eating samosas and watching those.”
Though Connolly spends four to five months a year doing stand-up, he hasn’t considered bringing his acts to Mumbai yet. “Do you think enough people would understand me?” he asks, humbly. We think they just might.