‘Cars 2’ Stars Larry the Cable Guy and Emily Mortimer Talk Bad Driving, Spy Names

Larry the Cable Guy, Emily Mortimer (AP)

In the Disney-Pixar film “Cars 2,” Emily Mortimer and Larry the Cable Guy star as the voices of a fiery pink sports car named Holly Shiftwell and a rusty old tow truck named Tow Mater. Ironically, one of them is a terrible driver.

“She sucks,” Larry revealed about his British co-star. “Emily is not a good driver. She even admits it. What did Emily do, run into a couple parked cars?”

Something like that.

“I shouldn’t be in charge of a vehicle at any point, because I crash them and I lose concentration,” Mortimer told me, adding, “My husband doesn’t let me have a car. His father, when he first met me, needed a Tetanus shot in order to get into my car because it was so disgusting and covered with old tin cans and half-eaten sandwiches.”

Mortimer’s affinity for dirty cars with personality is not unlike that of her character in “Cars 2,” which is available now on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and XFINITY On Demand. Holly Shiftwell is a fetching British desk agent who gets her first taste of field work when she and partner Finn McMissle (voice of Michael Caine) are asked to rendezvous with an American spy investigating an evil plot surrounding the World Grand Prix. Instead of a meeting a spy, Shiftwell and McMissle encounter goofy Radiator Springs native Tow Mater, a good-natured yokel who is traveling the world with his best buddy and Piston Cup champion Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson). Mater unwittingly winds up in the center of an international crisis, but just might wind up saving the day and catching a certain spy’s eye in the process.

This film is a follow-up to the highly successful Disney-Pixar film “Cars,” which opened in 2006 and grossed nearly half a billion dollars worldwide. And while sequels tend to get a bad rap, Mortimer says that “Cars 2” is not so much a sequel as it is a whole new entity with familiar faces.

“It’s totally different from the original, which I think saves it from the pitfalls of sequels,” Mortimer, 39, explained. “It’s a totally different genre of film. It’s a spy film, it’s an action film. It’s still a film about friendship and, on that level, it still has some of the heart of the first one, but it’s a whole different beast. The first 10 minutes, to me, are as exciting and mind-blowing as any ‘Bond’ movie I’ve ever seen.”

Larry echoes Emily’s assessment, adding that there is only one group of fans that really matter in the long run: Kids.

“Those are the only critics you need to look at,” the 48-year-old comedian said. “Kids don’t care what a critic writes. If a critic doesn’t like a movie, that little boy doesn’t care—he likes Mater, he likes McQueen.”

Larry and Emily, each a parent of two children, admit the idea of starring in a film their kids could watch made the franchise particularly attractive to them. And although this new “Cars” adventure has received criticism for action sequences that are potentially frightening for smaller fans, both actors say their own offspring were quite fond of the film and their parent’s performance.

“[My son] is terribly sort of sophisticated about the whole thing and was impressed and delighted,” Mortimer said. “For about 60 seconds I was the coolest person in our house. And then I’ll get forgotten again.”

In the coming months, Mortimer and Cable Guy will continue to cash in on their kid-appeal. Emily will appear in the Martin Scorcese 3-D film “Hugo” this November, while Larry kicks off 2012 with a starring role in the straight-to-video sequel to “Tooth Fairy.”

For now, the two are embracing their roles as animated, automobile spies. In fact, they both offered creative real-life spy names for themselves.

“You know when you do that thing where you [use] your pet’s name and your mother’s maiden name?” Mortimer said. “Mine ended up as ‘Tizzy Gollop.’”

“Agent Fats,” Larry said, laughing. “How’s that? Agent Breathe Hard.”

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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