Shawn Mendes and Javier Bardem Explain Why ‘Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile’ Is More Than ‘Just a Kids’ Movie’

After voicing a CGI singing crocodile named Lyle, Shawn Mendes definitely has dreams to act in live-action form.

“It’s a terrifying place because it’s something I’ve never done truly before,” the Grammy-nominated artist told TheWrap in a recent interview. “But I’m super interested in it, and the more I am involved in the world of movies, the more I love it and the more I fall in love with the people and what they express so yeah, I’d love to [star in a live-action film].”

The “Wonder” singer voices the title character in “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile,” the adaptation of the children’s book series by Bernard Waber, lending his pipes to a cute crocodile who only sings and never talks. Mendes still relates to Lyle even though his main form of communication is through song rather than speech.

“He’s this huge kind of physical being. But a lot of the time he’s playing this kind of very small character because he felt you feel that fear, that nervousness, that kind of insecurity from him, and I totally relate. I think those things are not connected, you know? And so, just watching his eyes was was a lot of it for me.”

Also Read:
Sony Hopes ‘Lyle Lyle Crocodile’ Will Be Next ‘Peter Rabbit’-Size Family Hit at Box Office

Javier Bardem, who can’t wait for Mendes to pursue live-action acting, plays the foil to Lyle (and others like uptight neighbor Mr. Grumps, who is portrayed by Brett Gelman) with his chaotic charisma and showman-esque way of going about life. Bardem, who recently portrayed larger-than-life personality Desi Arnaz in “Being the Ricardos,” describes finding the outrageous look of his character Hector P. Valenti as a collaboration of many minds.

“It was on the page, but also I talked to Josh [Gordon] and Will [Speck] the directors and we found this look that will make sense and will match the fun and the way he is and the way he behaves and the way he sells himself,” Bardem said. “And also the many things he hides and the amazing work of wardrobe and makeup and the hair. They really create this magic and when they come together ‘boom’, it happens. This is the work of many people at the same time.”

Valenti discovers Lyle singing his heart out to Cardi B’s “I Like It Like That” in his cage in the back of Eddie’s Exotic Animals pet shop after Valenti botches an audition for his new magic act, which consists of him forcing pigeons from within the folds of his coat as well as his top hat. Valenti then trains Lyle to coordinate dance routines with his pipes, but when they go on stage to perform, Lyle freezes out of stage fright, so Valenti leaves him in his family brownstone home while he goes in search of other lucrative schemes. The Primm family provides a whole new experience of love and fun for Lyle when they move into the brownstone and discover him in the attic, bathtub and other exotic locations.

Also Read:
‘Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile’ Trailer Shows Shawn Mendes as a Singing, Dancing Reptile (Video)

This being a family film, we had to ask Mendes and Bardem their favorite films when they were growing up — the one movie they couldn’t stop watching over and over again. Bardem recalled his favorite movie when he was younger: “E.T.,” as well as the experience meeting director Steven Spielberg after having watched it over 24 times.

“I wasn’t that little, but I remember I watched ‘E.T.’ 24 times at the movie theater. One day, I did three sessions one after the other,” he said. “And then I had the chance and the blessing and the honor of meeting Spielberg and I told him. The first meeting I had with him was in his office where there was the real E.T. on the bicycle.”

“What comes to mind for me is ‘Tarzan,’” Mendes said when asked about his go-to childhood movie, singling out the 1999 Disney film. “I remember watching ‘Tarzan,’ and I remember being obsessed with the Phil Collins soundtrack. I still to this day am so inspired by that soundtrack.”

Also Read:
Shawn Mendes to Voice ‘Lyle, Lyle Crocodile’ Title Character at Sony

Both Bardem and Mendes find their film to be so much more than a sing-along for kids.

“I have two kids. One is 11 and one is nine,” Bardem said. “I’ve seen many, I mean mostly every kid’s movie or family movie. Some of them are really masterpieces — they’re fun and beautifully done and constructed. ‘Lyle, Lyle, Cocodile’ fits into that category of a movie that really completes lots of boxes for the adults and for the kids, and that’s a lot to say in a movie. Which is like you really feel that you’ve been given lots of things and lots of emotions and feelings that you were not expected to have.”

For Mendes, who brings the animated crocodile fully to life, kids and family movies are just as powerful as films “for grown-ups.”

“I find that some of the times I’ve been most moved by films have been children’s films and animated films because I find that there’s no over-complication,” he said. “It’s just kind of the simple, pure truth of life, and I feel like in ‘Lyle,’ it really represents that.”

“Lyle, Lyle Crocodile” is now playing exclusively in theaters.

Also Read:
Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem Join Rachel Zegler for Animated Movie Musical ‘Spellbound’