Illumination’s latest also includes a minion that takes a cue from Chris Meledandri.
Grossing $75.4 million from the domestic box office in its debut weekend, Illumination’s computer animated Despicable Me 3 brings back franchise favorite characters including Gru (Steve Carell) and his Minions, along with some new faces like Gru’s brother, Dru (also voiced by Carell) and villian Balthazar Bratt (voiced by Trey Parker). Here’s some things you might not know about the new characters and the film, which was made at the Paris-based Illumination Mac Guff and directed by Pierre Coffin (the voice of the Minions) and Kyle Balda.
Minion Mel was inspired by Illumination head Chris Meledandri.
The minion that leads a revolt against Gru in Despicable Me 3 has an interesting backstory. “I designed a birthday card for Chris Meledandri a few years ago,” says co-director Eric Guillon, also a character designer on the Despicable Me films. “I drew Chris as a Minion, and I used the same design and haircut for Mel that I used on the birthday card.” (Meledandri produced Despicable Me 3 with Janet Healy.)
Gru’s new nemesis is one of Meledandri’s favorite Illumination characters.
Balthazar Bratt is obsessed with the ‘80s, when he briefly enjoyed success as a child star. “He can’t get past the fact that his fans don’t care about him anymore, and his motivation is seeking revenge on the world that turned its back on him…and doing it in the guise of a grown-up version of his childhood TV persona,” Meledandri explains.
Grace Jones helped inspire the look of Balthazar Bratt.
“If you google ‘haircut ’80s,’ you get a good understanding of all the different styles,” says Guillon. “I had the difficult task of trying to combine them. I chose Bratt’s erect hair and cut it straight on the top for a few reasons. Graphically, it’s radical and square, like Grace Jones’ style. When I was younger, I was fascinated by her and she is visually strong; I’m a big fan of Jean-Paul Goude [Jones’ longtime collaborator].”
Incidentally, another option he had considered was the style of ’80s singer Desireless.
Speaking of Bratt’s look, Guillon continues: “We gave him a bald spot to make him look older and to demonstrate a sign of weakness and relatability, while his mustache strengthens his personality and supports his expressions. Bratt is ’80s in the way that Gru is Gothic. His keytar is an emblematic musical instrument of the ’80s, and it’s also a secret weapon. Clive, his robot sidekick, and other details and textures round out those nods.”
Dru’s haircut was tricky.
Dru’s look — thick blond hair and a white suit — contrasts Gru, who’s bald and wears black. It was one of the first designs that Guillon created for Dru. “We went through different options after that, but eventually came back to the first one where the personality of Dru was more defined,” he says. “The most difficult part was the shape of Dru’s head. How can we create a haircut on a head that doesn’t have a forehead? I came up with the idea of a part in the middle, half-long hair — a bit cheesy, but it gives Dru a teenage look.”
Adds animation director Julien Soret: “He’s always smiling, and for graphic quality, we made Dru the yin to Gru’s yang. In animation we went more into an energetic, frantic character. While Gru is contained and introverted, Dru is emotional and more energetic.”