‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ Marks the Return of 2 ‘Despicable Me’ Stars

Animation is truly a visual medium and not a genre of film. But to that end, Minions: The Rise of Gru is exactly the family-friendly box office attraction moviegoers might expect from modern animated films. In particular, the titular Minions have become iconic pop culture touchstones in their own right. And while it’s more than just a sequel to 2015’s Minions, 2022’s Minions: The Rise of Gru brings two cast members from the Despicable Me franchise back into the fold.

‘Despicable Me’ introduced the world to the lovable Minions

Actors in costume portraying Minions Bob, Otto, Stuart, and Dave represent some of the Minions: The Rise of Gru cast at the movie premiere in Hollywood, posing on the yellow carpet
Minions Bob, Otto, Stuart, and Dave attend the ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ premiere June 25 in Hollywood. | Araya Doheny/FilmMagic

2010’s Despicable Me centered on a villain with big dreams of stealing the moon and the three little girls who inspired him to change his ways. Steve Carell’s Felonious Gru earned his spot in animated movie history and a franchise of his own. But in hindsight, the babbling, yellow-skinned critters who work for Gru ultimately have left a bigger mark on pop culture.

2013’s Despicable Me 2 doubled down on the Minions, with more screen time and a more integral part in the story. And by 2015, Universal fully embraced their popularity with a spinoff/prequel simply titled Minions. That film went on to earn $1.2 billion worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. 2017’s Despicable Me 3 brought the focus back to Gru. And now 2022’s Minions: The Rise of Gru aims to split the difference. 

‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ brings 2 cast members back to the franchise

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Toward the end of the original Minions, it became clear that the movie was, in part, the story of how the Minions came to work for Gru. At this point, Gru is still a young boy. And as its title implies, Minions: The Rise of Gru looks to expand on young Gru’s aspiration to become a respected villain. Two cast members in particular return to the Despicable Me world in the new movie.

Julie Andrews voiced Gru’s mom, Marlena Gru, in the original Despicable Me. And she reprised the role in Despicable Me 3 with the revelation that Gru has a twin brother named Dru. With Gru only a child in Minions: The Rise of Gru, it makes sense his mom would play a key role.

Likewise, Russell Brand is back as Gru’s villainous ally, Dr. Nefario, for the first time since 2013. Perhaps the new movie will show how he first met and aligned himself with Gru. 

Will ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ be one of 2022’s biggest hits?

The 2022 box office has been sequel-heavy. Films like Top Gun: Maverick, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Jurassic World: Dominion are among the year’s biggest hits. By that token, Minions: The Rise of Gru could be poised to make a big splash when it hits theaters July 1.

Then again, Despicable Me 3 was the worst-performing entry in the franchise. And a full seven years have passed since the original Minions movie. So perhaps audiences are somewhat less enthusiastic about Minions: The Rise of Gru now. Only time will tell. For now though, we’re certainly not going to bet against the Minions.

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