New Delhi: For Josh Gad, Hollywood's favourite when it comes to playing goofy roles, humour has always been a resourceful and empowering way to stand out in life.
Gad, 34, is best known for voicing the summer-loving snowman Olaf in kids favourite animated drama "Frozen" and he is currently in a number of big budget Hollywood productions like "Pixels", "The Angry Birds Movie" and "Beauty and the Beast".
In "Pixels", which released in Indian theatres today, the actor plays the role of Ludlow Lamonsoff, a former arcade game champion-turned conspiracy theorist with anger issues. He stars opposite Adam Sandler, Michelle Monaghan, and Peter Dinklage in the movie.
Gad can't remember a time when he was not funny, a talent that he developed to fight loneliness and alienation.
"Like so many of these stories go, I was the product of a broken marriage. And as a way to combat any sadness, I would defuse tension with humour. And that was a very empowering feeling for me. So, I started honing that skill," Gad told PTI at the recent Summer of Sony press event in Cancun, Mexico.
The actor said comedy helped him fight being an outcast in the school. He later realised that he could make a career out of this gift.
"Being an overweight kid in school, you can either be an outcast, or use humour to gain popularity, I chose the latter. I always find it as something which is very useful and in that resourcefulness, I discovered, 'You know what, I may actually be able to make a living out of this'."
Gad loves physical comedy and his idols include Charlie Chaplin, Chris Farley and John Belushi as they "used not only their voices but body" to create a comic experience that was fully realised.
The success of "Frozen" has opened other doors for the actor but Gad says he has always avoided falling into the trap of earning more money; he would rather chase the roles that he loves.
"I am financially in a place where I am comfortable and not looking to be Steve Jobs! I can never be like him. What I find is, the money follows, if you do projects which you are fully invested and believe in. If I had chased money, I don't think I would have grown up to be at the position where I am now."
This is why he was reluctant to star in "Angry Birds" as he did not want to get involved with another potential franchise.
"Originally, I was not going to do 'Angry Birds' because I did 'Frozen', which has such a gigantic presence and it is something that I take seriously and I am very protective about. I kept saying no. Then producer John Cohen did a skype presentation. I thought 'this is inspired lunacy and I have to be a part of it'."
The actor enjoyed the fact that the movie eliminated all the stigmas that came with making a film on such a popular game. He also found that there was enough separation from Olaf and Chuck, his character in "Angry Birds".
"What I tapped into while voicing Olaf was child-like wonderment and naivety. Chuck, my character in 'Angry Birds', is much more of a cynical speed-demon who has got attitude problems and can very much be defined as an angry bird. That gave me enough separation."
Gad, whose other notable films are "Love & Other Drugs", "Wedding Ringer" and hit TV show "The Book of Mormon", selects a role only when he is happy with the way his part has shaped up.
"I have three little boxes to check off. First is, is there something I can do with this role what nobody potentially can? Will I be able to bring out the best in the role or leave it for somebody else to do it? Second is, 'Am I working with people who can teach me something?'
"In many cases, whether it is Billy Crystal, Chris Columbus, Adam Sandler, the answer is yes. Third this is, is there an opportunity to do something I haven't yet done? In the case of the movie I am shooting right now 'Beauty and the Beast', it is an opportunity to do live action music, which I have never, been a part of."
The popularity of Olaf has been great for Gad but the biggest change is the way his daughter perceives him now.
"My daughter is so tickled by the fact that her daddy is voicing Olaf. She has been tickled ever since she saw the teaser trailer of 'Frozen'. The other day she heard me recording a voice message for another kid and she was laughing hysterically."
The actor is involved in the writing and co-writing of a couple of different projects.
"I don't know which I am going to choose next, I am in the process of making the decision. Again, that would be determined by whether it is an opportunity to build on what I have been doing.
"It looks like my next project might actually be a drama. I am excited about that because it is with a great co-star and great director and it is a very different opportunity."