‘Little Shop of Horrors’: The Evil Plant Was Voiced by This Pop Star

Little Shop of Horrors is the most famous musical horror-comedy about a man-eating plant ever made. Unlike most horror comedies, the film has a 1960s pop star in a major role. During an interview, the star discussed what the film’s famous director wanted from him.

Audrey II, the evil plant from 'Little Shop of Horrors' in a pot
Audrey II, the evil plant from ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ | Murray Close/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images

‘Little Shop of Horror’ is movie about an alien plant that pays homage to a certain era of music

The Little Shop of Horrors was dark comedy/horror film from 1960. In the 1980s, Howard Ashman and Alan Menken turned the film into an off-Broadway musical called Little Shop of Horrors. The musical pays homage to the 1960s. Many of the song sound like they could’ve been performed by Phil Spector’s girl groups.

Fittingly, when director Frank Oz turned the musical into another film, he cast a 1960s pop star: Levi Stubbs. Stubbs was a member of The Four Tops, the Motown group behind such classic songs as “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” “If I Were a Carpenter,” and “Reach Out I’ll Be There.” In the film, Stubbs played Audrey II, the man-eating extraterrestrial plant who serves as the villain of the film.

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What went into the casting of Audrey II, the evil plant from the movie

During a 1987 interview with The Washington Post, Stubbs discussed his relationship to Little Shop of Horrors. “I didn’t really know what it was all about,” Stubbs says. “I’d never seen the play, so I had no idea what it was they were looking for.”

Stubbs discussed what the filmmakers behind Little Shop of Horrors wanted for the voice of Audrey II. “They wanted something ‘streetwise’ as far as this plant is concerned, a streetwise plant that comes from outer space,” Stubbs said. “And he has two or three different personalities … he’s a bit devious … nice and kind … sly and sneaky …”

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Stubbs didn’t see the role of Audrey II as his entry into film stardom. “This was just something that happened and I’m pleased that the job I did came off as well as it did, but I’m not launching a movie career,” he said.

While Stubbs was humble while discussing his role in the film, director Frank Oz praised him highly. “He was brilliant,” Oz opined. “Levi gave me more than I needed, and that’s the important thing — not to give me less, but more, so that I can throw a lot of the stuff out and keep the best parts. He has tremendous vitality. His own instincts are so great that when he didn’t listen to me, he was terrific.”

The way the world reacted to ‘Little Shop of Horrors’

According to Box Office Mojo, Little Shop of Horrors made over $38 million. It was not a major hit, despite its cast of A-list actors such as Rick Moranis, Steve Martin, John Candy, and Bill Murray. The films soundtrack album didn’t even chart on the Billboard 200. Subsequently, the film became a cult classic for horror fans and musical theater fans. Decades after its release, Little Shop of Horrors has fans and it wouldn’t be the same without Stubbs.