INTERVIEW: Aunty Donna Bullied Their Way into ‘Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves’
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves looks set to be one of the biggest blockbusters of 2023. With a cast led by Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Regé-Jean Page, and Hugh Grant, there’ll be plenty of star wattage up on the screen when it lands in cinemas on March 30. However, in addition to all the action and excitement you’d expect from a fantasy epic like this, there’s always been a slightly irreverent, absurd humour ingrained in the tabletop game on which the film is based. To ensure that humour translates from table to screen, Dungeons & Dragons’ filmmakers recruited Aunty Donna – a troupe of very funny lads from Melbourne – to dub the voices for three of the film’s roles: Corpse One, Corpse Two, and Corpse Four.
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Sitting down for a brief chat with Aunty Donna’s Broden, Mark and Zach, we discuss just how they came to be involved with the film, what the hell happened to Corpse Three, and if they have any advice for those looking to replicate their success.
“We’ve just been bullying our way into things,” jokes Broden right out of the gate. “And that’s our lesson for the people of Man of Many.”
To expand on this slightly facetious claim for a moment, the members of Aunty Donna are proof that a certain level of stubbornness can take you a long way. It explains how in addition to having both a hysterical Netflix series, Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun, and an upcoming ABC show, Aunty Donna’s Coffee Cafe, to their name, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves sees them making their first foray into the world of Hollywood blockbusters.
“We refused to leave the lobby of Paramount until they gave us something,” explains Mark. “We went in there and we just sat down like this. Security asked us to leave, and we said, ‘Not until you give us a part in something!’ And then what happened?”
“They said, ‘We’ve made the movie already!’” laughs Zach. “We offered to dub over something. They told us it couldn’t be done but then they made it happen. It was really nice of them.”
Appearing alongside Chris Pine’s Edgin and his band of thieves, the corpses Broden, Mark and Zach lend voice to are brought back to life so the film’s heroes can obtain some information that’s crucial to their quest. It’s an important piece of plot work, but the comedy comes into play when it becomes clear that the corpses need to be asked five questions in order to return to their eternal rest (and it helps that Pine and co’s characters aren’t exactly the brightest).
As you can probably tell, the Aunty Donna boys spend a good deal of our chat with their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks. Of course, they’re also not giving themselves the credit they deserve. After all, they’ve managed to take roles that weren’t written with them specifically in mind and injected a certain zest that will be immediately familiar to anyone who’s seen their comedy before. In fact their work as the corpses is a little reminiscent of that all-time classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Despite this, their self-deprecation continues when we ask if they passed over the role of Corpse Three because they felt it lacked the depth of character found in the Corpses One, Two and Four: “It was actually too rich,” explains Zach. “We had the option to play that part and we were like, this guy’s really acting. Y’know, he’s got that big scene with Regé-Jean from Bridgeton. He’s really getting some exposition in there, really conveying things. And we were just like, ‘We’ll do the silly ones!’”
We’ll do the silly ones has been something of a motto for Broden, Mark and Zach, who’ve built impressive careers around being very silly indeed. From the viral success of their Always Room for Christmas Pud sketch to their more recent (very accurate) skewering of real estate agents, they’ve managed to maintain a steady upward trajectory, which has reached a new high point with their appearance (if only vocally) in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.
But that silliness remains at the core of everything they do, and as soon as we ask if they were fans of the Dungeons & Dragons game before signing up for the film, they’re off on another riff.
“I invented Dungeons & Dragons in 1978,” deadpans Broden. “And he sold it to Hasbro for so much money,” replies Zach.
And with that our time with Aunty Donna was up, but be sure to catch them in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves when it lands in cinemas on March 30. Check out the latest trailer above or via the link below.