Chris Renaud wanted Will Ferrell to voice the villain on 'Despicable Me 4' because he is a "wonderful character creator".

Will Ferrell voices the villain in Despicable Me 4

Will Ferrell voices the villain in Despicable Me 4

The director - who has returned to helm the new film in the franchise, having previously had the reins on the 2010 original movie and its 2013 sequel - had "always wanted" to work with the 'Blades of Glory' star and admitted the team enjoy casting people with a 'Saturday Night Live' background because they are so quick at coming up with ideas for their alter egos.

Asked why Will was cast as Maxime Le Mal, Chris told The Hollywood Reporter: "For me, personally, I’ve always wanted to work with him. I am a huge fan of his work and his character work.

"It’s not a mistake that we look at 'Saturday Night Live' people all the time — Chloe Fineman has a part in the film — because they’re wonderful character creators, and they’re able to create a character with very little time.

"Who’s better at that than Will? He came in with that great French accent."

Early ideas for the movie just had a "nondescript" and "threatening" presence looming over Gru (Steve Carrell) and his family, rather than a specific villain.

Chris said: "This one started really with the family problem, which was about leaving their beloved home behind and going to a witness relocation program, essentially.

"Originally, the villain was just a big threatening, dangerous presence and more nondescript than where we landed with Maxime Le Mal."

A satirical promo for the movie saw Steve set out a lengthy list of upcoming movies in the franchise, and Chris admitted a number of people thought the fake titles were real.

He laughed: "That’s the wonderful marketing team that supports our movies, and they’ve done a terrific job on this one. I actually have gotten questions about that one. I think people think it’s real and that we’re actually planning that."

But the director admitted there always "conversations" about potential spin-offs.

He said: "There are always conversations like that, and what we can do and where we can go with the characters.

"Nothing specific at the moment, particularly since I just finished this one, but there are always those conversations on, where else can they go and what changes can we make? How can we keep it exciting and fresh? We’ll see what happens."

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