Betty White loved 'The Lorax' message
In this film image released by Universal Pictures, Betty White voices the character Grammy Norma for "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax." White boasts she's been a wildlife lover since she was "in the womb." The tireless 90-year-old comedy star, who's worked with various animal organizations for several decades, says her passion for animals and nature was fostered during annual childhood camping trips with her parents in California's Sierra Nevada mountain range. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Universal Pictures, Suzanne Hanover
TORONTO - Betty White boasts she's been a wildlife lover since she was "in the womb."
The tireless 90-year-old comedy star, who's worked with various animal organizations for several decades, says such passions were fostered during annual childhood camping trips with her parents in California's Sierra Nevada mountain range.
"We wouldn't see anybody for three weeks," the multiple Emmy Award winner recalled in a recent telephone interview from the Brentwood, Calif., home she shares with Pontiac, a seven-year-old Golden Retriever and former guide dog.
"We'd be in there, we'd pack in and then the guide would take the horses out and leave us there for three weeks and then come in and get us. Oh, it's such a privilege to be in that kind of country and not have crowds of people everywhere."
These days, the area is "not quite that remote," noted the former "Golden Girls" darling: "Everything is a little more accessible these days."
The subject of land development is also touched on in White's latest voiceover project, "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax," which is available on DVD and digital download — as well as Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack — on Tuesday.
Based on the classic 1971 book, the vibrant 3D animated film is set in Thneedville, a synthetic land devoid of nature that has the slogan "Fantastic! Made of Plastic!"
Danny DeVito voices the titular moustachioed character, who is the protector of the Truffula Valley, a once-lush area of cute and fluffy creatures and trees that's now a barren wasteland.
The story centres on 12-year-old Ted (Zac Efron), who tries to impress Audrey (Taylor Swift) by embarking on an extensive hunt for the seemingly extinct Truffula Tree. When Grammy Norma (White) directs him to the Once-Ler (Ed Helms), he learns from the aging recluse about what led to the destruction of the gorgeous habitat.
"It was the environmental aspect of it that I loved, and getting that message across," White said of the film. "I'll do anything to do that."
White voiced up Granny Norma in a studio and got to see the film in 2D when it was done. She said she thought it was "lovely."
"I think it's phenomenal the way they record those things and then they send them halfway across the world for the animators and it comes back and it looks like you, it doesn't look like an animated figure, it looks like Betty White saying those lines," she marvelled in her sweet-as-pie voice that's provided a uniquely ironic touch to many cutting-edge comedy scripts.
"I just, I don't know how they do that."
White even had to belt out a few bars for a scene near the end of the musical film. She didn't mind the challenge — after all, she's been singing on variety shows since the '50s.
"I don't work at it anymore as far as having a repertoire and stuff, but when I was a youngster, I wanted to be an opera singer, so I took very serious singing lessons," said White.
"So I vocalize every once in a while, but only when nobody's home."
This month White plans to return to the sets of her series "Hot in Cleveland" and "Betty White's Off Their Rockers," for which she recently earned an Emmy nomination for best reality series host.
Filming both shows at the same time "is going to take a little pre-planning and stuff, but we'll get it done. I'll be glad to be getting back to work," she said nonchalantly.
"When you love what you do, it's not work. I'm privileged at 90 years old to still be invited to do this stuff," added White.
"They haven't been able to get rid of me. I just, I've been hanging in there."