LOS ANGELES: When DreamWorks Animation needed to get up to speed with the high-octane world of motor-racing—from the perspective of a turbo-charged snail—it turned to auto champion Tony Kanaan.
Turbo takes the animated studio—which was behind Madagascar (2005) and Kung-Fu Panda (2008)—back to the animal world, after Rise of the Guardians (2012) and this year’s The Croods.
Out last week in the US (including special screenings in other countries like the Philippines), the movie tells the story of Turbo (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), a garden snail who dreams of becoming a motor-racing star, making him something of an outcast in his slow-moving world. In a freak accident, he falls from a freeway bridge and is sucked into a car’s super-charger, where his DNA mixes with nitrous oxide to make him the fastest snail that ever lived.
Helped by Mexican truck driver Tito (Michael Pena) and a cast of other unlikely supporters, he manages to get signed up for the race of his dreams—the prestigious Indianapolis 500—pitting him against the world’s best drivers.
That’s where Kanaan—who won this year’s Indianapolis 500 in May, with the fastest winning speed in race history—came in.
“I just gave some details of the racecar, the racetrack, the speed—stuff like that. They wanted to simulate exactly the same,” he told Agence France Presse ahead of the film’s release. “It was a very nice experience. To have a movie for kids that talks about this history of Indy 500, I think it’s awesome. It’s something that I had never done before,” Kanaan said.
Kanaan added that his experience on Turbo had whetted his appetite for the movie industry. Asked if he would like to be an actor, he said; “I’d love to. A couple weeks ago I met Vin Diesel in Hollywood and he was joking around and saying ‘You’re gonna be a part of Fast and Furious 7. Maybe that will happen. I would love to. I don’t want to be a movie star but, you know, to be part of a movie would be pretty cool.”
Kanaan collected $2.35 million from a total purse of more than $12 million for winning the 97th Indianapolis 500 with the fastest winning speed in race history. He completed 200 laps around the four-kilometer Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval in 2:40:3.4181 at 301.644kph, breaking the old mark set by Arie Luyendyk in 1990. It took Kanaan 12 career starts to finally win at Indy, matching the record for the longest drought for an eventual Indy 500 winner established when Sam Hanks won in 1957 in his 12th attempt.