Music icon Bono and writer-director Garth Jennings are featured in a new episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s Behind the Screen, during which they discuss Universal and Illumination Entertainment’s upcoming animated feature Sing 2 and the power of music.
The sequel to Jennings’ 2016 crowd-pleaser features U2 classics like “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and a new original song from the band, titled “Your Song Saved My Life.”
The film, which hits theaters Dec. 22, has a voice cast that includes return players Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Scarlett Johansson. In his first role in an animated film, Bono plays Clay Calloway, a reclusive rock star who has stopped singing.
In the podcast, Jennings says he’d already started writing Sing 2 when he first talked with Bono about the project, but Clay’s character wasn’t fully fleshed out. What was clear to Jennings was that Clay had to be a lion: “A legendary, epic character … the most magnificent creature. … The goal was to find a way to touch him enough so that he would come back and re-engage with the world he’d left behind.”
Bono jokes, “I think Garth thought he had a victim in me. He thought, ‘I know a rock star who might work for this role’ — a kind of a badass misanthrope who shoots paintball guns at kids — and I do all of that,” said the rocker with a laugh, adding, “He became the victim because I am very interested in singing … and why people become singers. Some sing for a living, and some sing to stay alive, to survive.”
“Your Song Saved My Life” came out of that early conversation with Jennings, as Bono found that the project provided the opportunity to write a “song that unlocks singing.”
A music video for “Your Song Saved My Life,” in support of the nonprofit Education Through Music, has been released. Says Bono, “As part of the whole campaign, we want to make it possible for people to send their stories of how, you know, their music teachers got them singing. And we want to create bursaries for people who want to learn music.”
Adds Bono: “Singing is very, very important to lots of people, even who are not singing in bands or singing in the local bar. People sing in the car and the bath, walking around. Music means so much to people.”