Kathryn Hahn is as thrilled to have joined the Hotel Transylvania fam as we are to see her take part in the franchise.
The actress (Transparent, Bad Moms) plays mysterious monster cruise captain Ericka Van Helsing in Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, and she wanted to come aboard because she and her family are *big* fans of the Hotel Transylvania movies, which also star Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, and Andy Samberg. And in effect? Her role has gotten her “cred” with her kids — Mae and Leonard.
Hahn discussed all that with reporters at a recent Hotel Transylvania 3 footage presentation and roundtable, and also spoke to the cast’s insane chemistry and Friday the 13th superstitions, along with co-star Keegan-Michael Key — who reprises his role as the hilarious (we’d expect nothing but hilarious from Key) Murray the Mummy.
Without further ado, here’s Hahn and Key’s (edited) conversation…
HelloGiggles (HG): What was it like joining this talented cast?
Katherine Hahn: I’ve seen these movies many, many times, being a mom. And you are always on the hunt for something that will make you laugh as well, because there’s a lot of crap out there, I’ve got to be honest. Sometimes you’re just bottom of the barrel because you need something to put in front of the children.
And we’ve always been huge fans of these movies, my kids and myself, because they’re so undeniably funny, but they’re rooted in such a heart. There is such a tenderness and a sweetness in the relationship. So I was really excited to join it and I love it. This group of actors is bananas. I was so, so thrilled. And then to play kind of a villain, is also something that I’ve always wanted to do.
HG: The entire cast has insane chemistry. I know you’re not working together on a daily basis. How do you develop that?
KH: It’s fake.
Keegan-Michael Key: A lot of it’s Genndy [Tartakovsky], the director, because he is one of the creators of the world and he knows the world so well, that you have to attribute his skills with the editors and his storytelling abilities. You have to, because it’s right. These kind of movies, all you’re doing is stitching them together.
It’s helpful, like you said, you’re in a really good advantage, honey, because even though you’ve never been in this dynamic before, you’ve seen these movies. So you know the heart and the charm and the group dynamic. They all love each other, support each other. It’s a very kind-hearted film. I think the chemistry comes through the creative team that’s on the other side of the camera — I guess we’re all on the other side of the camera. The creative team who globally puts the team together, they are manufacturing the chemistry. It’s really something else. It’s amazing.
HG: Do you do some sort of table read to get the vibe of the other characters?
KMK: No, it’s in a vacuum. We do all of it in a vacuum. What did you say, Kathy? You came into the booth and you thought…
KH: I was like, “Where is Adam Sandler?” But Genndy, he was in there with me and we did the scenes together. So I felt like I had a pretty solid scene partner actually. He made it really easy. It was fun because it did kind of feel like you were into the void. Also, there are these huge scenarios that you’re trying to respond to, but it was a real fun acting challenge for me. It was really fun. I loved it. And also, I was able to show up in sweatpants.
KMK: It’s the best job.
KH: No, it really is. I could show up and my kids were so psyched. I’ve got cred with my kids now. Finally.
HG: When you see the finished animation, do you see any personal mannerisms, or facial expressions of yourselves, in the characters?
KMK: Me? Not at all. Also, that character was not designed for me. It was designed for [CeeLo Green]. So for me, not at all. In other projects I’m doing…they’re designing the characters to look like me and Jordan [Peele]. But this is also a testament to Genndy. Is that in creating this world, these voices are matching these characters…The characters have their own essence to them.
HG: Does this movie satirize the actual cruise experience? Because in the news you hear these weird stories.
KMK: Boats tipping over, families fighting each other.
KH: It’s like, “Ah, no toilets working.” No, from what I have been told, I think this makes a cruise feel like a ball. Like really, really fun.
KMK: Full disclosure, I have never been on a cruise. So I don’t know. But to me, it seems like a positive satire. That’s an oxymoron. It looks like a non-stop party.
KH: It feels like a vacation — well, you know, it’s also a great trap. Put all those monsters in something in the middle of the ocean and there’s nowhere else they can go. But I’ve shot something on a cruise for a short amount of time, and I just remember thinking, “Wow, you got to really talk about Purell.” You got to keep using that. Gallons of it.
HG: Kathryn, do you have any tips for moms on the best family vacation? How to keep your kids sane, or yourself sane?
KH: We love a road trip. That is my happy place, being in the car with my hubby and my two kids, and just a duffle bag of stuff and just a couple good podcasts and just us. That is my happy place. I love it. I love the adventure of it. I love stopping. I just love going on vacation with them, anywhere.
They’re really good on airplanes now. You know, you just outgrow it; it sucks for a while and that’s just what it is. And it happened too fast and now I miss it. I remember when my baby was so little. Now, she’s eight and she would literally sleep on the floor of the airplane because of the vibration. She would fall asleep really fast. She would just be underneath my feet. It happens like that. Bring extra clothes for the airplane because they will urinate on something.
HG: Keegan, you’ve talked a little bit about getting in the mummy headspace. So I’m curious for you, Kathryn, how did you get in the head of a monster hunter? Watch a lot of ghost hunter type of shows?
KH: I’m obsessed with those anyway, but I just kind of tapped into my OCD file of facts using that kind of side of my personality. I decided to go toward the cruise director captain more so and let the chips fall where they may.
HG: What was your favorite part about playing that character?
KH: It was so fun to play somebody like that, that has that kind of an ulterior motive. And someone that was raised that way from the time she was born to think of monsters a certain way, and then to learn something different and to just walk away from her legacy. I think it was interesting to me. I took one good look at her outfit and was like, “Oh my God, this is so fun.” I just knew my kids would have a ball.
HG: Has Ericka been taught her whole life that she has to hunt monsters and hate monsters?
HG: But has she ever tried to really get to know monsters?
KH: No, never. That’s what I mean. That’s why this was a real eye opener for her. She sees this group and she wants in, like that’s what family is. She realized that she really didn’t have a family. That she thought monsters [were] inhuman, [but they’re] actually the family she wishes she could have had. And then it gets really sad.
HG: Keegan, you briefly mentioned stop-motion. How do you feel teaming up with Jordan again for that?
KMK: We just did some scratch tracks the other day and it just feels like riding a bike. The most comfortable, fun bike. I’m a very technical person in regard to our craft, and it’s the one thing I can never explain. People ask, “But how do you and Jordan…” I don’t know how to explain it.
It’s just alkamine. It is what it is. You’re lucky if you get that once in your life, to get some kind of relationship or synergy like that. I’m really looking forward to it. [It’s] probably going to come out in 2020, it’s stop-motion. You know what I mean? But if it’s Henry Selick, it’s worth the wait.
HG: Summer Vacation comes out on Friday the 13th. Are you superstitious at all?
KH: A little bit, like I always forget, and then I sort of remember. Like, “Oh! Well, I’m alright.”
KMK: I’m a little superstitious. I notice it. You know how you say you’re not superstitious? But if you were walking down the street looking at your phone and you realized you walked under a ladder, you go, “Oops! I just did that.” The fact that you’re trying not to make a big deal out of it means you’re [thinking about it].
HG: Keegan, what’s it like to be a living legend?
KH: Yeah! I want to know, too! How does it feel?
KMK: I wasn’t expecting that one.
HG: Walking around everyday, and being a living legend, is it a lot of pressure or does it come easy to you?
KMK: I guess I’m trying to still come to terms with what even — just living everyday kind of working. I met one of my heroes. I met Gary Oldman and in the middle of this conversation, I said, “I don’t care. I’m gonna gush, and I’m going to talk about movies that you haven’t made since 1987 because you are one of the reasons I do what I do for a living.”
So you have to say that to this person, right? And then, that person starts having a conversation with you, and in the middle of the conversation, you go, “Oh my God, we’re both just actors who love what we do.” He’s really just an actor who loves what he does…and we start talking about craft.
So, I don’t know how to answer the question. No one’s ever said this to me. I have no sense of myself, of me being what you’re saying. I just go, “What’s the next thing that I find interesting? What’s the next thing that resonates with me? And how can I use this gift to help the world?” It’s like if you just keep thinking like that, then you won’t feel the pressure. You’ll feel a lot of pressure, but it feels like good pressure.