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Migration Actors Kumail Nanjiani, Elizabeth Banks Applaud Mike White's Clever Script

Kumail Nanjiani and Elizabeth Banks say scriptwriter Mike White brought unexpected "complexity" to "a really lovely story."

By Grace Jidoun

At first glance, Migration tells the story of a family of ducks who fly south for the winter, but the animated feature from Illumination — in theatres on December 22 — delves deeper into the dynamics of friendship, community, and parenthood. We have scriptwriter Mike White to thank for bringing such rich texture to a seemingly sweet and straightforward story of the Mallard duck family.

In Migration, White gives viewers a birds-eye view of life — whether it’s from a duck’s perspective at a fancy New York City restaurant (you’ll think twice before ordering roasted duck) or a parent’s perspective on teaching their kids to be independent and fly away from the nest.

RELATED: Migration Teams Up with the International Bird Rescue to Raise Awareness

“It’s a simple setup. They’re at one place, and they want to get to another place, so within that very simple framework, he was able to bring in a lot of complexity about a romantic couple learning to reconnect and appreciate each other again,” actor Kumail Nanjiani recently told NBC Insider.

“And also, the idea of letting something go that you love. That at some point you can’t protect it anymore. It has to protect itself,” he added.

The stand-up comedian imbued his animated character, duck dad Mack Mallard, with earnest enthusiasm and humor, especially in scenes with his plucky duck wife, Pam, played by Elizabeth Banks (Hunger Games, The Lego Movie).

Writer Mike White is the brainchild behind the cult classic School of Rock with Jack Black and the wildly popular dark comedy-drama White Lotus. He’s also penned episodes of NBC’s Freaks and Geeks, but he’s not always behind the scenes. The scriptwriter has a penchant for reality TV, appearing as a contestant on Survivor and The Amazing Race with his dad, Mel White.

In shows like those, things don’t always go to plan, and White allowed for some unplanned moments in Migration. Banks and Nanjiani — both seasoned voice actors — had the opportunity to improvise, bringing their own unique creativity to the table.

“He crafted a really lovely story and honed into the dynamic between our two characters right off the bat," Banks told NBC Insider. "But I think making these characters our own is part of the collaborative process. We do it over such a long period of time, so we see our characters from sketches, and they’ve done character development in illustrations… and then suddenly it’s like whoa, there’s Kumail's voice, and Danny DeVito’s here, and it just builds and builds and builds. It’s a really fun but long process."

The fun they had bringing these ducks to life came through loud and clear on-screen and is certainly infectious. You’ll experience all the highs and lows as you travel alongside ducks, pigeons, herons, and parrots on this epic journey to Jamaica.

Get your tickets to Migration, in theaters December 22.