Awkwafina voices tech-savvy Spidey in “The Bad Guys”

by Matthew Escosia
SEA Wave - THE BAD GUYS - Wolf, Snake, Piranha, Tarantula and Shark
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In the new action comedy The Bad Guys, based on The New York Times best-selling book series, a crackerjack criminal crew of animal outlaws are about to attempt their most challenging con yet—becoming model citizens.

Awkwafina lends voice to the tech-savvy Ms. Tarantula along with an immensely talented voice cast in the action animated feature film – Sam Rockwell as the dashing pickpocket Mr. Wolf, Marc Maron as the adroit safecracker Mr. Snake, Craig Robinson as the master-of-disguise Mr. Shark and Anthony Ramos as the short-fused muscle Mr. Piranha.

Sharp-tongued, genius hacker and expert multi-tasker, the most independent member of the gang, Ms. Tarantula is always quick with the comebacks. As the gang’s only female member, she doesn’t cut the “Guys” any slack. She prides herself on perfection. When she encounters an un-hackable code, she goes into “beast mode”—employing her eight legs to achieve super-cyber decrypting speeds.

In Aaron Blabey’s book series, Tarantula is actually a “Mr.” But when adapting the story for the screen, Blabey was supportive of the filmmakers switching the character to be a kick-butt female techie. Producer Rebecca Huntley has loved audiences’ reception to Ms. Tarantula. “One of the surprising things was how parents responded to the fact that Ms. Tarantula was representing women and girls in S.T.E.M. She’s a cool, confident hacker, and to have audiences see her as a role model in that regard was wonderful.”

SEA Wave - The Bad Guys_

She was thrilled to join such a brilliant group of fellow voice performers, as well as occasionally work alongside them—a rarity in animation. “This is a stacked cast of brilliant actors, and I’m a huge fan of all my fellow Bad Guys,” Awkwafina says. “When I heard who was going to be in it, I was mind-blown.

The actor enjoyed playing a character who is not unconstrained by societal rules. “The Bad Guys are pretty much the villains of everything,” Awkwafina says. “They scare people out of restaurants, which I imagine would be great because you could get a table anywhere. As a group of friends, they do quite like each other. Because they’re such outcasts in the world, they relish in who they are.”

SEA Wave - The Bad Guys_

Additionally, Awkwafina admired how deftly the source material and the script balanced joyful imagination and poignant themes. “The story is pretty existential, and these are characters with sincere dilemmas,” Awkwafina says. “It is symbolic of how we, as humans, see ourselves, how society does and how we embody that—until we realize that we don’t have to be defined by certain things. I like the way that The Bad Guys plays with aspects of good and bad. Those are two terms that we see misconstrued all the time. We see people that look bad but aren’t, as well as people who look good but aren’t.”

A Universal Pictures International release, The Bad Guys will open in cinemas on April 27.

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