In “Despicable Me 3,” actress Miranda Cosgrove (“School of Rock”) reprises her role as Margo, the oldest of the three little girls that the villainous anti-hero Gru (Steve Carrell) adopts after the original 2010 movie.
In the new sequel, while Gru is tracking down his long-lost brother Dru (also voiced by Carrell), Margo and her sisters, Agnes and Edith, are learning what it’s like to have a mother figure in their lives after Gru gets married to Lucy (Kristen Wiig) in Part 2.
During an interview with Cosgrove, 24, earlier this week, I talked to her about returning to the franchise and how her character has changed, her favorite parts of the film and how she would like to branch out and work on more “mature” projects in the future.
It’s been seven years since we first met your character Margo in the original “Despicable Me” movie. As the actress giving her a voice, how have you seen her change from then till now?
Well, in the first movie, Margo is all about protecting her two little sisters. She’s kind of like a mom in a way because she’s the oldest. In this movie, there is a big change because it’s all about her having a mom for the first time. She’s getting used to that. There are a few point in the movie where she’s kind of helping Lucy. She tells Lucy that it’s OK to put her foot down sometimes—telling her how to be a mom in a way. She also really enjoys having a mom.
What do you think about the decision not to age the girls? Does it give the film a more timeless feel? I mean, Andy grows up in “Toy Story,” but not these little girls.
I think it’s nice. I think at some point I’d like to see them get older because I think it would be fun to see. I definitely like it this way because Agnes (the youngest sister) is one of my favorite characters. I don’t think it would be exactly the same if she was bigger just because she is so cute right now.
Being seven years older yourself, were there any unforeseen challenges when you stepped inside the recording booth for this one?
I think the biggest challenge was probably just sounding young. When I first started, I was 14 and now I’m 24 and the character is still 12. But I guess that wasn’t even too challenging because I think my voice just sounds naturally young. Also, it was fun thinking about being in fifth grade again and being younger and having crushes on guys for the first time. It’s fun to remember being little like that.
Yeah, maybe they have to change the character’s age if it’s a boy because a male actor’s voice is going to naturally get deeper after 10 years.
(Laughs) Yeah, it gets really low. That’s true. I think my voice has changed a little, but it’s sort of the same.
Looking back at “Despicable Me 2,” along with it being a really fun animated film, it was also known for Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy.” Do you think any of the songs in this new sequel are going to have the same kind of effect?
Yeah, I love the music in this movie. It was one of my favorite things about it. I love the whole vibe. One of my favorite songs is the one Pharrell does during the scene when all the Minons are dancing in jail (“Freedom”). They’re snapping and doing this synchronized dance. That was one of my favorite parts. I loved all the 80s music, too, because I love Madonna. I knew all the 80s songs. I got excited about all of that, for sure.
When you hear people say that the Minions steal the movie, as I’m sure you did for the first two films, what are your thoughts about that? Are you OK with the idea that some people come specifically to see them?
(Laughs) I’m definitely OK with it. It’s so cool. When I did the very first movie, I remember I came in about halfway through [the production] to record and that’s when they decided to add the Minions. They came up with the idea at that time. I remember pictures for the first time—these little drawings. They went through changes over the course of [pre-production]. I always thought they were so cute. I feel like it’s so hard not to love them. I remember before the first movie trying to explain to my friends what the Minions were, but it’s really kind of hard to explain. You sort of have to see them to understand what they are. Now, I think it’s pretty cool that everyone knows what a Minion is.
Well, they are cute and funny, but they’re technically villains, too. Why do you think it’s so much fun to root for the bad guys in this franchise?
I think with the Minions, they’re evil, but they’re kind of not. (Laughs) It’s part of their charm because they’re basically the cutest things ever. They’re these chubby yellow balls of cuteness. They just happen to have an evil streak. I see a little bit of that in Gru, too. Maybe Gru isn’t as cute as the Minions, but I think people like his character because he started off as a villain. He’s all about family and loving people for the first time. That’s what turned him around.
During your career, you’ve been known for popular kid and family-friendly TV shows and movies. Now that you’re 24, would you like to branch out into other types of roles? I noticed you were recently in a thriller (“The Intruders”).
Yeah, I would. I like comedy, so I think if I was to do anything, I would like to do more comedy. But maybe something more mature. Right now I’m just going to school at USC and trying to finish. I try to take some time off to do pilots and different parts. But if I could do anything, I’d like to continue with comedy and be on a really funny show sometime.
You’ve built such a big following with your young fans. Of course, those fans are getting older, too, so do you think it’s important to evolve with them or do you worry that you could lose that base if you get too far away from what they initially knew you for?
I think it’s kind of cool that a lot of people who liked “iCarly” and “Drake and Josh” seems like they’re almost my age now—like 18, 19 and 20. So, hopefully, whatever I do next, people my age can still enjoy it. Hopefully it’s something I’d want to watch and they would want to watch, too.
If this franchise continues after this trilogy, is it a given that you’ll be part of it? I mean, can you really say no to a gig like this?
I definitely hope I’m a part of it! I’ve had a really great time. It’s been fun doing publicity and stuff with Steve Carrell. He’s one of the funniest and coolest people I’ve ever met. I would love to continue to be a part of it—for however long.