‘Despicable Me’ Screenwriter Discusses Local Honor, Theme Park Attraction

Cinco Paul

Screenwriter Cinco Paul

Though he didn’t begin his career at a kitchen table per se, screenwriter Cinco Paul and his writing partner, Ken Daurio, wrote “most of Horton Hears a Who, Despicable Me and The Lorax … around our desks at the apartment in Agoura we used as our office,” he said.

Paul’s work is included as part of Agoura Hills’ One City, One Book “It Began at the Kitchen Table,” an installation that pays homage to local success stories with humble beginnings. The exhibit, which includes photos, artifacts, descriptions and timelines on six enterprises, will be on display in the Fireside Room at the Agoura Hills Public Library April 19 through May 4.

“I’m honored for my work to be included among all the cool things that were created in Agoura Hills,” said Paul.

And this weekend, “Despicable Me, Minion Mayhem” opens as a major attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, described as “a 3D Ultra-HD movie motion-simulator adventure,” according to a press release.

“Ken and I were involved at the very beginning of the ride development, but then got pulled away to write movies,” Paul said of the latest venture. “[I’m] very excited for the grand opening on Friday.”

In addition to both Despicable Me films, Paul and Dario, a Westlake High graduate, are the creative writing team behind such animated and live action films as Hop, Santa Claus 2 and Dude, Where’s My Car.

“Ken and I met through a church play and started working together,” Paul said.

RideThe duo went on the write Bubble Boy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, after which they were approached by producer Chris Meledandri to write Horton Hears a Who.

“He had us with meet Audrey Geisel [the wife of the late Ted Geisel aka Dr. Seuss]. She was a little bit leery about another adaptation of her husbands work after Cat in the Hat,” Paul said.

The two assured Geisel that the film would stay true to the original story and ultimately won her approval. The film went on to generate $295 million in ticket sales worldwide, according to IMDB.com.

The writers now have an exclusive deal with Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment.

Paul graduated summa cum laude from Yale University in 1986 and went on to attend the USC School of Cinema-Television in 1993. He got his unusual name because he was born on May 5, Cinco de Mayo.

He said he particularly enjoys writing for animation, because the process is slower, more detailed and he gets to participate in all voice sessions.

“The animation for Illumination takes place in Paris, but the voicing sessions occur here in L.A.,” Paul said. “So we get to be in the booth with the actors and help guide them, although many like to ad-lib. It’s a fun process.”

In addition to his writing duties, Paul has been in charge of Agoura High’s award-winning Comedy Sportz team for the past eight years, and though his daughter, who was actively involved in the program graduated last year, Paul continues his coaching duties.

“It’s an amazing program,” he said of the improvisational group which continues to take top honors in local competitions. “I love it.”

What’s next for the dynamic writing duo? “We just started writing Despicable Me 3, which comes out in the summer of 2017,” he said. “These things take time!”

“Cinco Paul is an accomplished writer, teacher, musician, and comedian, yet somehow with all of this success that he has had, he gives back so much to this community, its children and families,” said Amy Brink, Agoura’s director of community services. “When you speak to him or attend an Agoura High ComedySportz event that he hosts, he makes people feel as though they are simply sitting at a kitchen table with him enjoying the good life, here in Agoura Hills.” 

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