‘Spies in Disguise’: How Three Pigeons Stole the Movie From Tom Holland and Will Smith

Spies in Disguise is the only movie this holiday season where you can see Will Smith turn into a pigeon. Spy Lance Sterling (Smith) takes one of Walter (Tom Holland)’s potions and it turns him into a pigeon. Lance Sterling isn’t even the best pigeon in Spies in Disguise. There are three other avian costars so memorable your kids will surely want to take them home

Spies in Disguise pigeons
Walter’s pigeon friends in Spies in Disguise | Blue Sky Studios/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Directors Nick Bruno and Troy Quane discussed the birds in Spies in Disguise. Since the other three characters don’t talk, they’re mostly the creations of animation. Spies in Disguise is now in theaters. 

The three pigeons who steal Will Smith’s spotlight in ‘Spies in Disguise’

Once Spies in Disguise transforms Lance Sterling, he can’t shake three real pigeons.

Walter (Tom Holland) and Lance Sterling (Will Smith)
Walter (Tom Holland) and pigeon Lance Sterling (Will Smith) | Blue Sky Studios and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

“They represent different aspects of pigeons,” Bruno said. “So Crazy Eyes is like that gnarly pigeon that you see in the city eating garbage. Lovey is those cuddly ones that you see huddled up on the top of rooftops and Fanboy is the one that you see always following somebody else so they each represent a type of pigeon.”

Those three pigeons don’t talk like Will Smith

Crazy Eyes, Lovey and Fanboy are just real pigeons. They don’t talk so they just coo and flap around like real birds. They’re still Spies in Disguise‘s MVPs (most valuable pigeons).

“That was part of the fun of the pigeons, was that all the other animals in this world are just that. They’re animals. So we really needed that grounding of reality so you felt the difference of this human trapped in a pigeon body versus other real world pigeons. So Lance is the only one who can talk. He’s got little eyebrows so you can sort of read his expressions. It really is the idea of this agent that flies solo becoming a flock animal and having to learn to deal with all these other quirky crazy birds.”

Troy Quane, Spies in Disguise roundtable, 12/4/19

The pigeons got to be awesome in ‘Spies in Disguise’

At first Lance Sterling resents being a pigeon. Walter keeps touting all the new abilities he has, but Lance is slow to see the light. Bruno and Quane wanted to champion the birds in Spies in Disguise.

“Pigeons are those things that most people ignore or think are gross, but they’re really phenomenal. Pigeons can fly really fast, up to 92.7 miles an hour. The only natural predator they have is the paregrine falcon but pigeons can bank at almost 90 degrees which is unbelievable. We’ve watched YouTube videos of them drafting behind cars in traffic. They’ve got eyes on the side of their head so they can see in almost 360 degrees so nobody can sneak up behind you which is a pretty cool thing if you’re a spy. They can see UV light so the idea that they can see possibly infrared sensors and lasers.”

Troy Quane, Spies in Disguise roundtable, 12/4/19

Pigeons got all the best jokes in ‘Spies in Disguise’

When Lance sees out of pigeon eyes or lays eggs, the joke of Spies in Disguise is at his expense.

“The idea of being able to see someone’s face and your butt at the same time becomes a really big joke in the movie,” Quane said. 

Converting studly Lance Sterling into a bird was also a way to comically take him down a peg.

Tom Holland and Will Smith: Spies in Disguise
L-R: Walter (Tom Holland) and Lance Sterling (Will Smith) | Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

“It was really important that we took Lance Sterling, who’s this amazing human physical specimen like broad shoulders, chest, he’s strong, he’s sexy,” Quane said. “We use the word sexy a lot, I apologize. I know it’s a cartoon but it’s a sexy cartoon and turning him into this really funny little dumpy bird shape but in order to do that it was really important.”