Craig Schulz, son of “Peanuts” comic strip creator Charles M. Schulz, listened to a lot of children before found the voices for “The Peanuts Movie.”
“It was a long process, with 1,500 kids,” says the co-writer and co-producer, who resisted pressure to use celebrities for the animated 3D film. “Send me the tape — I’ll know them when I hear them. The voices run in my head every day,” adds Schulz, a Santa Rosa resident who’s been carrying on his father’s legacy since the world-famous strip’s final newsprint appearance in 2000.
Four of the experienced actors he found – Noah Schnapp (Charlie Brown), Hadley Belle Miller (Lucy), Francesca Capaldi (Little Red Haired Girl), and Mar Mar (Franklin) – recently visited The City, excited to promote the movie, which opens Friday.
Before coming to the project, 11-year-olds Noah, Hadley and Francesca, and Mar Mar, 13, had various levels of familiarity with Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang.
Hadley, from Huntington Beach, played Sally in a stage version of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” and watched the TV specials, as did Francesca, from San Diego, and Mar Mar, from Compton, who says the videos were “always in my household.”
Noah, from New York, says he did some research, picking up “thick books” with comics from 1952-56, and watching YouTube videos to prepare for his audition.
Francesca, who at first was cast as Frieda, perhaps had the most freedom, in that the Little Red Haired Girl speaks for the first time in the movie.
Even though their parents grew up with “Peanuts,” these 21st century kids also can relate to Charlie’s Brown’s trials and tribulations, which are slower paced than most popular entertainment today.
Hadley points to the movie’s intelligence, Noah says its characters are like most kids (“there’s the shy one, the outgoing one”) and Francesca and Mar Mar say they didn’t notice that there’s no technology in it, until someone pointed it out.
Schulz, who worked for eight years on an uphill climb to get “The Peanuts Movie” made, wants to touch a new generation and honor his dad’s work: “He drew this thing for 50 years,” says Schulz, who admits that the new movie purposely has characters that reflect real people and real life.
And it’s not just for young kids, he says: “We crafted the movie for adults.”
IF YOU GO
The Peanuts Movie
Starring: Voices of Noah Schnapp, Hadley Belle Miller, Francesca Capaldi, Mar Mar, Bill Melendez
Written by: Craig Schulz, Bryan Schulz, Cornelius Uliano
Directed by: Steve Martino
Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes