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Keegan-Michael Key Reveals How He Found His Parrot Voice in Migration

The Emmy-winning actor discussed his character's unique voice in the Illumination animated feature, Migration.

By Grace Jidoun

Before Migration even lands in theatres on December 22, the Mallard duck family has charmed their way into our hearts with a catchy holiday song and three enticing trailers. But they’re not the only birds in town. Thanks to the exuberant Jamaican parrot Delroy, the upcoming animated feature from Illumination soars in new directions — namely, South to the Caribbean. In Migration, Keegan-Michael Key plays the parrot with pitch-perfect intensity, right down to the Jamaican accent.

Like the Mallards who find themselves lost in the city, Delroy dreams of his home in a tropical paradise and is, well, a duck out of water in New York. Even cranky Uncle Dan (Danny DeVito) can’t help but fall for Delroy’s charms as the birds in Migration — duck and pigeon alike — learn the importance of family and community on their adventures.

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When we recently caught up with Key on the red carpet for the premiere of the exciting new family film, the Emmy-winning actor admitted getting into character for Delroy required just as much effort as he puts in for a live-action film. Essential to bringing Delroy to life was getting the accent just right, so Key worked with a dialect coach for two months. When asked how he prepared for his part, Key responded, “For me, it was doing drills for myself for the Jamaican accent and working with my coach.”

When it comes to getting into character, voice acting has unique challenges, as Key went on to explain, “In live action, you can put on a suit or a hat or something that allows you to work from the outside in. For me, it was the dialect,” he told us. “That was really, really helpful.” All of the hard work and preparation paid off because he nailed it.

Perhaps best known from Key & Peele, the sketch series he co-created with Jordan Peele, the comedian and Second City alum has done nearly every type of movie, from indie films to blockbuster animation. Key recently brought his incredible voice acting skills to the Super Mario Bros. Movie as the extremely high-pitched voice of Toad. The prep for that role? “Really, really tight pants,” he joked on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon during a recent appearance.

Migration premieres in theaters on December 22. Get your tickets now!