When it comes to second chances, Dane Cook knows a little something about that. A self-described "shy kid," the actor overcame that insecurity to gain wide success as a stand-up comedian. He's brought that experience to his returning voice role as Dusty Crophopper in Disney's "Planes: Fire & Rescue."
In the sequel to last year's "Planes," Dusty's latest adventure has him fighting wildfires after realizing that his racing career is over. Set in Piston Peak National Park, which is modeled on Yosemite National Park in California, the film spotlights the tragedy of loss but also the triumph of success in unexpected places.
Cook talked to mom.me about who'll be watching his family-friendly movies as well as what he used to daydream about in school, back when he was the shy kid.
What appealed you about making a family movie?
I think it was a conscious decision. I've been doing stand-up for about 24 years. I think about four or five years ago it really occurred to me that I have a lot of nieces and nephews. They'd always be asking if they can come to my show or see a movie that I did. I'd say 'No, you're not ready. You're not old enough.' And I always had a love for animation.
What do you hope kids will take away from the film?
I think the first film was such a charming whirlwind. That's what I loved about it. It was breezy and light, and certainly beautiful to look at, but what's great about these stories at Disney — that the animators, John Lasseter and the people around him like to tell — is that they are stories of growth. That was the most intriguing thing in the sequel. It's still a blast. It's still a ton of fun.
Do you relate to Dusty at all?
I relate in the sense that I was a dreamer. I was a kid who had a lot of limitations on myself. I really dreamed big but I wasn't sure how I could accomplish some of the things that I would hope to do and places I wanted to see. I remember being such a daydreamer in junior high school that I would open up one of the history books to just a random colorful page so I could just fog out and daydream. I was a kid who had a lot of insecurity and I was extremely shy.
You were shy?
Very, very shy. Probably the shiest kid you would ever meet. I was an introvert. So I could relate in the sense of when I saw this character initially, I was like, "I can really put all of myself into this voice."
What part of your stand-up comedy background played a role in Dusty's character?
Definitely improv. More so in this one too because I came into the first one as it was already in motion. With this, I was right there from the beginning stages, which meant I could have a little more flexibility with the script. I could ask more questions. "How are you going to animate this? Can I play around with some options of where to take the voice here?" It was more of a sandbox to play in for myself and all the other actors that are involved in it.
There's also an interesting message about heroes.
Especially with Dusty. I just loved that he had some limitations on him in this one. That's so true to life. The message of the first one is that you try to go beyond what your limitations are and then, of course, like in life sometimes something else comes in. I thought that was so smartly approached in the movie; such great care was given when Dusty has to do that soul searching. The other day I said, "The first one was, 'What can I do for myself?' [In the second one], Dusty was like, 'What can I do to elevate myself?' It's funny. It's selfless. 'What can I do for my community?'"