Stars splash out in film about a fish with dreams

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Hollywood stars are queuing up to have their voices heard in the latest blockbuster animation featuring high drama under the sea.

Hollywood stars are queuing up to have their voices heard in the latest blockbuster animation featuring high drama under the sea.

Billed as Finding Nemo meets The Godfather, Steven Spielberg's company DreamWorks is to follow in the footsteps of Disney with its latest film Shark Tale, which was introduced in Cannes yesterday. Angelina Jolie, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and Will Smith are among the big names who will give voice in the film.

After success as a man in black and the boxer Mohammed Ali, Will Smith is the voice of the fast-talking little fish who dreams big in Shark Tale, which will hope to emulate the worldwide phenomenon of Finding Nemo, which grossed $854m (£485m).

An exuberant Smith whooped and wisecracked his way through a special first screening of highlights of the animated comedy featuring the imaginary mafia dons of the shark world. Robert De Niro, who starred in The Godfather Part II, plays the under-the-sea boss, Lino, with Martin Scorsese, the director of Goodfellas, as Sykes, a puffer fish with an eye for a deal.

Co-stars Angelina Jolie, whose fish is a femme fatale called Lola, and Jack Black, star of School of Rock, the voice of a great white shark who is a closet vegetarian, joined Smith in Cannes to make a splash for the project with a seaside photocall in the blazing sun. "When I saw Angelina's fish I started eating sushi," Smith said of Jolie whose fish has her distinctively pouting lips. "That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me," she said with a grin.

Black added: "I can now say I've made a movie with Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. We record all the voices separately, so I still haven't met Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese."

Jeffrey Katzenberg, the co-founder of DreamWorks and the film's producer, said it was "a comedy that pokes fun at several classic movie genres" . He added: "It has a voice cast which is literally a dream come true."

People always asked him why they wanted movie stars in DreamWorks' animations, Mr Katzenberg said. "It's actually a very selfish thing. For the films I make, I want to get the best talent in the world. The reason why they're stars is because they're the best talent in the world.

"We find in making these movies that when you have great actors and you create a safe and totally free environment and encourage them to improvise and help create their character; every single time they give us gold."

Mr Katzenberg said Smith was chosen for the lead role of Oscar, whose big dreams land him in hot water when he tells a white lie and becomes an unexpected hero. That required someone with charm, charisma and "the kind of character who could believably talk his way into or out of any kind of trouble".

The first glimpse of this project came as the stars of DreamWorks' next projected hit, Shrek 2, arrived on the French Riviera for its red- carpet premiere tonight.