Go bananas! Here’s everything you need to know about Minions: The Rise Of Gru

The Minions and Gru in Minions: The Rise Of Gru

© 2021 Universal Studios.

Every supervillain has to start somewhere – and Illumination’s new Minions movie is an origin story that rewinds to Gru’s big break.

From the ’80s action legends in the Minions 2 voice cast to the secrets behind the Minions’ jibber-jabber, here’s your guide to Minions: The Rise Of Gru.

Minions: The Rise Of Gru release date: July 1st

What’s the background to Minions: The Rise Of Gru?

As Shakespeare once (almost) wrote: some men are born evil, some achieve evil and some have evil thrust upon them. We always wondered which one applied to Felonious Gru. We first met the character as a fully-formed villain in Illumination’s Despicable Me series, when he was already middle-aged and Blofeld-bald.

Sure, we got a glimpse of schoolboy Gru when he freeze-gunned Scarlet Overkill at the end of 2015’s first spin-off, Minions.

But we still have questions over how the Steve Carell-voiced baddie and his babbling yellow army rose up to become lords of the criminal underworld.

At last, with the Minions 2 release date on July 1st, Gru is getting the origin story he deserves. Your family’s summer of cinema starts right here.

What’s the new Minions movie about?

Rewind to the early-’70s and 12-year-old Gru is a suburban fanboy who dreams of joining the criminal jetset. Hearing that the legendary Vicious 6 supervillain gang have fired their leader, Wild Knuckles, and are recruiting new blood, Gru infiltrates their underground lair for the world’s scariest job interview.

Funnily enough, given that the other applicants have muscles, meat cleavers and Friday the 13th masks, Gru’s pitch falls on deaf ears. “You seriously think a puny little child can be a villain?” taunts the gang’s ice-cool new leader, Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson). “Come back when you’ve done something evil…!”

MINIONS ON OUR WAY Approved Images

© 2021 Universal Studios.

So he does. Stealing the gang’s precious green gemstone, Gru enjoys a fleeting moment of cackling supervillain triumph. That’s when he realises one of his banana-brained henchmen has swapped the stone for a novelty rock at a children’s birthday party – an excuse that isn’t going to cut it when the Vicious 6 catch up with him.


How good is Steve Carell as Gru?

The Gru character didn’t come easy. The original pitch came from animator Sergio Pablos, who envisaged the villain as “gothic” and “looking like Dracula, with these big, hulking, ogre-like henchmen”, according to a CartoonBrew interview with Despicable Me co-director Chris Renaud.

From there, Renaud added, the character evolved. “We sort of went into the world of James Bond, thinking of characters like Goldfinger and obviously the Bond-ian world of technology.”

Gru might now have worked on the drawing board, but the vital ingredient was the voice talent of The Office and Anchorman star Steve Carell, who brought the Russian-accented, grammar-mangling villain to life.

“I wanted Gru to be mostly funny and silly, but a little bit scary,” the actor told Collider. “That’s what I tried to keep in the back of my mind. Gru doesn’t have a black heart, but he doesn’t have a heart of gold either. I’d say he has a heart of bronze.”


Who else stars in the Minions 2 voice cast?

Let’s start with the Vicious 6, whose ranks include just about every action hero you’ve loved since the ’80s. You’ll hear the unmistakable purr of Kickboxer’s Jean-Claude Van Damme as the crustacean-handed villain Jean Clawed (geddit?). That’s Rocky IV legend Dolph Lundgren as Svengeance and Machete’s terrifying Danny Trejo as Stronghold.

Best-known for her reign as Xena: Warrior Princess, Lucy Lawless plays Nunchuck, a sister you don’t want to mess with. “Well, that character goes back to my Irish Catholic roots,” the actress told Looper. “She's a nun, but a bad one. She's got a rough sense of humour and has technical skills. She's in charge of some of the technology.”

MINIONS ON OUR WAY Approved Images

© 2021 Universal Studios.

As for the gang’s ousted leader, Wild Knuckles, he’s voiced by none other than the legendary Alan Arkin, whose fabled career includes a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine. Listen out, too, for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s Michelle Yeoh as Master Chow, described in Universal’s official synopsis as “an acupuncturist with mad kung fu skills”.

Elsewhere, long-time fans of the Despicable Me and Minions saga will find returning favourites, including The Sound Of Music icon Julie Andrews as Gru’s self-absorbed mother Marlena, and livewire British comedian Russell Brand as his future assistant, Dr Nefario.


Who voices the Minions themselves?

All credit to Pierre Coffin – not only the co-director of 2015’s Minions but also the voice talent behind the squeaky henchmen from the start.

“It’s gibberish,” Coffin told The Guardian of the Minions’ garbled jibber-jabber.

“It’s a mixture of all the languages of the world and it’s about finding a particular magical rhythm and melody that makes the nonsense make sense."

“If I need to evoke something specific,” Coffin added, “I might search the Internet for a particular word from a particular language like, for instance, something Dutch for an argument as it’s quite guttural. But without the visuals, the words are meaningless."

Bob, Kevin and Stuart in Minions

© 2015 Universal Studios.

Illumination make great family animations, don’t they?

You betcha. In fact, every parent should drop to their knees and give thanks to the Californian animation studio founded in 2007 by Chris Meledandri.

For the past 15 years, Illumination has saved our sanity a thousand times over the school holidays by serving up the best family cinema trips. From Sing and The Secret Life Of Pets to The Lorax and How The Grinch Stole Christmas – these animations are the backdrop to our lives.

Bob, Kevin and Stuart in Minions

© 2015 Universal Studios.

But even among Illumination’s slam dunks, nothing is bigger than the Minions franchise.

In 2015, the original Minions film earned over $1 billion worldwide (making it the 10th highest-grossing film of all time).

And with most of the key creative crew returning for Minions: The Rise Of Gru – including Minions co-director Kyle Balda, writer Brian Lynch and producers Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy – this sequel is tipped for even more kerching.

Minions: The Rise Of Gru official poster

© 2021 Universal Studios.

What is the Minions 2 release date – and why should I see it at ODEON?

The Minions 2 release date is July 1st and the belly laughs always feel bigger at ODEON.

With an A-list voice cast and an unmissable origin story, Minions: The Rise Of Gru is the naughty-but-nice cinema trip to kickstart your family’s summer. Round up your own Minions, dig out your goggles and dungarees – and we’ll see you on the front row.



Minions: The Rise Of Gru release date is July 1st.

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