LallaLand Blog: Despicable Me 3

29 June 2017
A blow-by-blow account of Lalla's journey to LA to interview the cast of Despicable Me 3.

Scrap That… You’re Off to LA

Thursday 8 June 2017

My heart skips a beat anytime I see ‘M-Net Movies’ flash across my screen as my phone rings. Usually it only means one thing.

Trying to sound as calm and professional as possible I answered the call.

“Hello, Lalla speaking.’

 “Hi Lalla, it’s Meera from M-Net Movies. Just a quick question, what’s your Tuesday looking like?’

“Umm well….”

“That’s great… scrap it!” she said in the friendliest tone.

“You’re off to LA!”


The 3 Ps: Planning, Preparing and Packing


Being whisked away on junket trips isn’t as fabulously glamorous as you may think. Hours of planning as well as preparing with regards to production, and then there’s also the packing; and as any woman knows, that takes time.

Getting ready for trips is always super exciting. It’s hard work, but it definitely ranks pretty high on the best kind of “hard work list”

I’ve been told that we’re off to cover the brand new installment of Despicable Me. My favourite! Steve Carell and Kristen Wiigg!? OMG!


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Weekend Special

Saturday and Sunday

It’s the weekend and there’s still so much to do.

I haven’t even started packing. Going in hard on the research though.

The production scale of any animation is extremely large. This one is no different! I need more time!!!! I’ve always said weekends should be longer…

Counting down the days. 3 days to go. Aaaaahhhh!


Mad-day Monday

The flight is booked for tomorrow and I’m a little nervous.

Kay, my stylist, is only coming in the evening and up until this point my suitcase is empty.

In between all the prep, I fit in my Vuzu shoots so my schedule is super tight. Must make this work though!

We step into a quick meeting regarding production with the M-Net Movies team late in the afternoon and go over the final checks.

After Vuzu, I run back home to meet Kay and it takes hours.

It’s 2 AM when we finish up. I’m exhausted.


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Disarm all Doors and Crosscheck


The Emirates chauffeur service comes to fetch me at around 10AM giving me a few hours to sort out the little things for while I’m away, but before I know it, I’m sitting in the airport lounge and as usual, my OCD kicks in, so I find myself going over everything in my head, making sure I haven’t forgotten anything.

I have a long journey ahead of me. An 8-hour flight to Dubai, a 9-hour layover and then a 16-hour flight to LA. I don’t mind it though. I choose to fly Emirates because of my panic attack disorder and it seems like the only airline I don’t have episodes on for some reason.

I get comfy and set up my pillow and blanket just right. Before I hear “Disarm all doors and crosscheck” This ninja is lights out.

We arrive in Dubai just before midnight. Luckily I’m booked into a hotel down the road. After fighting through the airport and getting past passport control, I find a car to take me to my bed for the night.

After checking in, its past 1AM and 38 degrees. Wow!

I’m terrified I’ll miss my flight in the morning and my alarm is set for 5:30AM. I’ve experienced some pretty bad luck when it comes to hotel wake up calls, so I don’t risk it. Not much sleep that evening as I play time keeper thought the night.


Touch Down


I make the flight, a little dishevelled, but made it nonetheless! Pearl Thusi is on the same flight and we catch up as we board the plane. Small world! She’s off to LA for the premiere of her new movie Catching Feelings at the LA Film Festival and to attend the BET Awards. She’s done really well for herself! It’s been incredible to watch her go from strength to strength.

The 16-hour flight is long but I can’t sleep. I end up reading over all my research and then on to a book that gets me through the flight.

The great thing about flying to America is that you always gain about half a day or so.

It’s late afternoon and finally we touch down at LAX. A beautiful sunny summer day in the City of Angels.

We do the regular airport thing. The hour and a half queue at boarder control (seriously), the luggage carousel, home security checkpoint, and eventually exit.

That’s it! I need a shower!

I find my driver at the arrivals hall and he whisks me away in his black Escalade to the beautiful Beverly Hills. Well maybe not ‘whisks’, more like fights his way through the worst traffic you’ve ever seen and almost two hours later we arrive at the entrance of the fancy Montage Hotel. It’s now around 7PM.

After checking in I unpack as much as I can, but somewhere in between pulling out outfits and going through documents regarding info for our shoot I pass out on a heap of stuff lying on the bed.


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No Dinner for Me


Its 3:30 AM Western time and my eyes are wide open but my body’s asleep! Ahhh! Hello jetlag!

My body’s a little confused which is normal so I force roll out of bed to sort through the rest of the mess I left the night before.

Hoping it helps with the lag I go to the gym, but feel pretty weak.

Breakfast definitely helps after a hot shower and before I know it I’m in hair and makeup in my hotel room catching up with my LA artist Talia.

As soon as we’re done we meet the crew downstairs in the lobby and everyone’s energy is high!

It’s a beautiful morning and everyone’s ready to get cracking! It’s a long shoot day, but we had tons of fun driving right around LA to get some incredible shots of the city and all it has to offer! By 4PM I was knackered. I almost felt drunk on jetlag, but we had tons still to do and as the sun goes down very late in the evenings we soldiered though and beasted it! We wrapped around 9:30PM and I was exhausted by the time we got back to the hotel…No dinner for me, I was out cold as soon as I put that room key down on the table.


Fryday Friday

4 AM and my eyes are open but again my body’s asleep. Well, at least this is better than the morning before.

Once more I force roll my body out of bed and hit the gym. Why am I doing this to myself? Shower and breakfast again help with the lag, but I’d kill for half a day in bed to remember my name.

Back in hair and makeup and we join the crew straight afterwards. Another long day of shooting ahead and we’re all pretty excited. Man it’s a hot day! 36 degrees. Whoa! We visited LACMA, Hollywood Boulevard, Griffith Observatory and a ton of other really interesting places. I’m always amazed at the amount of tourists that come to visit the city! It’s mind blowing! I suppose I add to that ridiculous number.

Another long day in the can. We wrap up in the early evening and make it back to the hotel just in time to meet up with all the international press. Universal Pictures is taking us to see Despicable Me 3 at a nearby movie theatre. I love watching movies with press, especially from all over the world. Everyone always has such interesting opinions on the films. I loved the film! I thought, as many others did, that it was a little short, but Gru is by far one of my favourite characters along with his many minions and that could probably explain the way I felt.

By 9 PM we headed back to the hotel and I was ready for bed! I should be finalising junket questions after seeing the movie, but I can’t keep my eyes open. I promise myself I’ll be up early to look over everything. I’m a little flu-ish, must have got a little sunstroke; I decided to take some meds and hit the sheets.


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Up at 3:30 AM again. Urgh. Pretty tired from all the sun yesterday but the jetlag isn’t as bad. The normal ritual of gym, shower and breakfast followed by make up and hair keep the nerves at bay, but I know it’s the big day and the energy is definitely different. My director Monde walks into the room and sits on the bed helping with information and questions. We discuss the movie in depth and make sure all questions we settle on are pertinent. I always make sure I have a ton of backup questions just in case the conversation moves in different directions! Always have to be prepared!!

The junket interviews are taking place in the same hotel we’re staying in.

We take the elevator downstairs and sign in. The entire second floor is buzzing with international journos and we take a seat in the long line for the first interview. Amanda Cosgrove, who voices Margo in the movie.

It takes a while before we get to the front of the line and all I can think about is how these incredibly talented actors and actresses have to sit in interviews all day to answer the same questions from all different media outlets from around the world and stay as happy, friendly and responsive in the last chat of the day as they were in the first. Not an easy task for anyone.

The interview goes well and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. We get four mintes to chat and there are timekeepers who are very strict about that.

I’m told that my next interview, with Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig (the voices of Grui, Dru, and Lucy Wilde), will be in quite a while so they put us in the press holding area where there’s tons of food and everyone’s munching away staring at either their laptops or their phones. I grab a drink and find a seat.

Finally I get called up to sit in line for the interview. We hear people leaving the interview room whispering about how nice both actors are. I feel pretty excited to get in there. Just a few minutes later Pharrell walks past. He’s off to do print journalist interviews. I’m a little sad we don’t have a few minutes with him on camera. That would have been aaaah-mazing!

I hear my name get called up, “Lalla, from M-Met Movies South Africa, you’re up.”

I walk towards the door, and two ladies greet me. I walk in and realise there are so many people in the interview room; it can be a little intimidating.

Kristen and Steve greet me with warm smiles and in a few seconds we’re in an awesome conversation. They’re just as cool in person as they are on screen. Between you and me, with actors and actresses at junket interviews, it’s not always the case.

Before I could get in any more questions, the timekeeper signalled to a me to wrap it up and I said my goodbyes. I had so much more to ask. I was a little bummed, but so happy I got what I did.

I walked out of that room pleased! Many journalists who just joined the queue outside asked how they the two are in person. I couldn’t explain well enough just how great they are.

It was lunchtime as I collected my cards from the card room down the hall and that was the final quest on my Despicable Me 3 mission.

I grabbed lunch straight after and went out to the pool to fall asleep under an umbrella. I got back to my room to pack and went straight to bed.

I was ready to come home.




I finally woke up at 7AM, feeling a lot better than all of the other days on the trip. I finally broke free of the jetlag, but now it was time to make the long journey back!

I grabbed breakfast and checked out. I was sad to leave the beautiful city of LA but really excited to get back home.

I still had a really long flight ahead of me.

16 hours to Dubai, a 14-hour layover and an 8-hour flight to Johannesburg.

I was definitely not complaining though. What an incredible experience I just had. Being that close to the cast of Despicable Me 3 was amazing! My inner child was in a state of bliss.

Coming back to SA was a blur, but I do remember landing at OR Tambo and thinking “ahhh, hello jetlag”.

Watch Lalla’s interviews with the cast of Despicable Me 3 on 2 July just before the Sunday night movie at 20:30 on M-Net Movies Premiere.