In the animated sequel “Despicable Me 2,” actor Moises Arias plays Antonio, the son of the supervillain El Macho (Benjamin Bratt), who uses his natural charm to woo the eldest of Gru’s (Steve Carell) daughters, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove). During an interview with me, Arias, 19, who is of Colombian descent, talked about playing such a charismatic lady’s man and also discussed his other film currently out at theaters, “The Kings of Summer.”
This will be the fourth time I’ve interviewed you in the last five years. The first time was when you were only 14 years old. Now, you’re 19. You’re making me feel very old, you know.
(Laughs) Yeah, being 19 is pretty crazy. Being in this business does mature you very quickly. But luckily I’ve had parents beside me that have always taken care of me. They’ve given me great values and taught me that if I really want to be in this business, I have to put time into all my characters. I really think that has impacted me starting at such a young age.
How much of your own personality were you able to put into Antonio?
A lot of it. In animation, you take the words right off the page and make them your own. They showed me the animated sketches and what [Antonio] was going to look like. You try to embody that and imagine what his voice is going to be. It was a very different and cool process.
What did you think when you first saw Antonio?
I thought he was surprisingly similar to me. I thought he was very good looking. (Laughs)
The first voice work you ever did in your career was when you were 12 years old. Is it still as fun now as when you were a kid?
When I was a kid it was much more difficult. You’re trying to understand what the director wants. It’s a learning process. Now, you go in and it’s more of a collaboration.
What did you like the most about the first “Despicable Me” film?
It was funny and dark and cute. I liked the Minions and Gru’s dynamic with the girls. Everything put together just made a perfect film. I was very excited to be a part of the second one.
I know when you make an animated film, you usually record your lines all alone in a studio, but have you gotten the chance to meet Benjamin Bratt yet since he plays your dad in the movie?
Yeah, I actually met Benjamin for the first time today. I went in and said, “Hi, I’m your son.”
There are a lot of animated films this summer going against “Despicable Me 2” at the box office like “Monster’s University” and “Turbo.” Why should parents take their kids to see your movie first?
I think “Despicable Me 2” is for all ages. I think it has every aspect for every age. I hope everyone gets a chance to go see it.
Other than yourself, who is most excited to see this film that you know?
All my friends that are girls. They were so excited when I told them I was doing “Despicable Me 2.” It’s so funny because there are all these 19 and 20 year old girls who are very excited to see it.
Not to take anything away from you, but it might have a lot to do with the Minions, too.
(Laughs) Yeah, it probably does.
If you had your own Minion, what would you do with him?
(Laughs) Oh, I would make him do everything for me.
Like, “Hey you! Go get me a drink from the fridge!”
Your other film “The Kings of Summer” is also out at theaters right now. What did you see in your character Biaggio that you liked so much?
How the character was written by Chris Galleta is so fantastic. Just off the page, it made me laugh out loud. When I read the script I was like, “What the hell is this character?!” That’s really what attracted me to the project. It was all about believing in the script and giving it your all as an actor. I wanted to make it believable and funny and heartfelt.
Have you ever felt the need to escape like the boys in the film?
I mean, even when I was 14 I guess you kind of want to be your own man, but it was always enough to just stay in my room and calm down. I’ve never really had the need to escape or run away, but vacations are always nice. It is nice finding that place where you can just go and relax. Even if you’re at home it’s great.