Sassy Secret Life of Pets 2 character suits comedian
Tiffany Haddish has found a new home in the recording booth.
The LA-born comedian and actor, who rose to fame on the sitcom The Carmichael Show, has joined two major animated film franchises. After recently voicing the tongue-twistingly-named Queen Watevra Wa'Nabi in The Lego Movie 2, Haddish is dialling up the sass as Daisy the Shih Tzu in The Secret Life of Pets 2.
She also put her vocal skills to the test in the audio book version of her best-selling memoir The Last Black Unicorn. The performance earned her a Grammy nomination earlier this year.
"You want people to hear you and see what they're hearing," Haddish says.
"When I'm in the booth I'm very physical, using my face to express how I feel so you can hear it in the words."
The Secret Life of Pets 2 reunites Haddish with her Night School co-star and long-time friend Kevin Hart, who reprises his role as energetic bunny Snowball.
"I didn't even know he was in the movie," she jokes. "There was him and a lot of other reasons why I wanted to be a part of this film. I love working with my bro. I loved the first movie and I have pets, so I can totally relate. I have two dogs and a cat, and a brother and a grandma - they all living off of me (laughs)."
While the film centres on the canine and feline pets who reside with their owners in a New York City apartment block, the world is filled with a menagerie of supporting characters.
Haddish was pleased to learn she'd be voicing the small but brave Daisy, who makes it her mission to free a white tiger held captive by a cruel circus owner.
"When they showed me the character I was like 'Heck yeah, I'm a Shih Tzu'," she says.
"When I saw her I thought she was so cute and then it was something about the barrette in the hair that made me feel like she's sassy; she wants to look cute."
In the sequel, the now happily domesticated Snowball develops delusions of grandeur that he's an actual superhero after his owner Molly starts dressing him in superhero pyjamas.
But when Daisy shows up to ask for Snowball's help on her dangerous mission, he'll have to summon the courage to become the hero he's only been pretending to be.
Even though he's the champion she'd hoped for, Daisy gradually guides Snowball into finding his own inner hero.
"I hope kids take away to always have compassion and help others and know you can't always do it by yourself," Haddish says. "You might be doing all the heavy lifting and be the true hero, but it's OK to ask for help."
Father-of-three Hart agrees: "Mindset - having a positive one is key. When you have the will and want to succeed that means ultimately you're a winner."
After the runaway success of the first film - which had the biggest opening weekend ever for an original film, animated or otherwise, in 2016 - Hart was confident Illumination's creative team would raise the bar in the sequel.
"The best thing about this particular film is that you go into it just with the expectation that we have to go bigger and better. We have to outdo ourselves from what we did the first time (because) if we can't then there's no sense in going forward with this film now. The writers, the producers, the studio, everybody outdid themselves - I mean that. I'm happy to be a part of it."
The Secret Life of Pets 2 opens in cinemas on Thursday.
STARS: Patton Oswalt, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Harrison Ford, Jenny Slate.
DIRECTOR: Chris Renaud
REVIEWER'S LAST WORD: While narratively it's less cohesive than its predecessor, this busy sequel has some very funny scenes and great take-home messages for the little ones.