In 2012 when a “Detective Pikachu” video game was first announced, 51,144 people from around the world signed an online petition to convince the creators to hire Danny DeVito as the voice of the eponymous Pokémon. At the time, the petition seemed like a joke, but visual effects producer Greg Baxter has confirmed to Nerdist the petition somewhat worked for the film adaptation. The “Detective Pikachu” creative film team took audio of DeVito from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and tested it as Pikachu’s voice before Ryan Reynolds was cast in the role.
“We really tried a range of actors,” Baxter said. “Different pitches, different sounds of voice…big, small, everywhere in between. And really, once you put a voice to an animated character, something just amazing happens, not what you expect. But once Ryan Reynolds went in, it was kind of game over. That was amazing.”
Reynolds was one of many names the “Pikachu” team brainstormed to cast as the Pokémon character. Each actor in the running was tested by putting audio from one of his films or television projects into a scene as the voice of Pikachu. For DeVito, the audio came from “It’s Always Sunny” and his character Frank Reynolds. The test failed as Reynolds became the team’s first choice after they tested his voice.
“We knew what the character was gonna be — you know, what it looked like, the size, the shape, even some of the basic movements,” Baxter said. “And something really magical happened when we put Ryan Reynolds’ voice into Pikachu. It’s just not at all what you’d expect and it’s just funny, because the way he speaks and the way he acts is almost like one giant run-on sentence. He keeps talking until jokes just fly out. And for this little, cute, little thing to have that kind of crass and sarcastic sense of humor and then just kind of keep going, that actually affects the animation.”
Reynolds was cast in the leading voice, but somewhere exists a clip of Pikachu as voiced by Danny DeVito playing his “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” character Frank that is bound to become an internet legend. Warner Bros. is releasing “Detective Pikachu” in theaters nationwide May 10. DeVito, meanwhile, can be seen in Tim Burton’s “Dumbo,” opening March 29 from Disney.