Nobody can say that success is giving comedienne Luenell a big head. In fact, it’s given her a small one.
The bawdy, husky-voiced, actress/standup comic is the voice of a sassy, shrunken head in “Hotel Transylvania,” a new Adam Sandler animated film that opens Friday about a resort hotel built by Count Dracula (Sandler) for Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, the Werewolf and other monster buddies looking for a lavish vacation hideaway from the pitchforks and torches of mankind.
“It’s odd-looking and cute,” Luenell said of her animated character. “I kind of hang on the door like a door knocker and talk trash as people walk by.”
It’s a small role in a big-budget film in which Luenell shares the screen with comedic heavyweights like “Saturday Night Live” alums Sandler, Jon Lovitz, David Spade, Andy Samberg and Molly Shannon, along with Kevin James from “King of Queens,” Fran Drescher of “The Nanny,” Steve Buscemi of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” and “The Voice” judge and singing superstar CeeLo Green.
“Hotel Transylvania” is part of Luenell’s methodical path to stardom in which she hopes to achieve “The Four B’s” – getting her face on bus stops, buses, billboards and buildings – and winning an Academy Award for her acting skills.
“Projects I’ve been in have made all of those, but I haven’t quite gotten my little face on any of those yet, but you know what? It ain’t over ‘till it’s over, and I don’t see the end for a long, long while,” she said. “I expect to get all of those things I just mention, and the Oscar, too.”
Her career accent began in the comedy clubs of Los Angeles, where her talent was noticed by contemporaries like Jamie Foxx, D.L. Hughley, and the late standup comedian Robin Harris. Luenell’s raw, often off-color comedy routines led to television appearances on shows like “BET’s Comic View,” “ Foxx’s “Comedy After Dark,” “The Tracy Morgan Show,” “Nash Bridges,” and “The Boondocks,” and movies like “So I Married an Axe Murderer,” “The Rock,” and “Never Die Alone.”
She scored a big break with her performance as the “hooker with the heart of gold” in Sacha Baron Cohen’s 2006 movie “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.”
The “Borat” helped pave the way for a part in “That’s My Boy,” a Sandler film released earlier this year, which later led to becoming “Hotel Transylvania’s” shrunken head.
“Being that I worked with Adam before, it’s pretty well-known fact that if Adam likes you, he’ll re-use you,” Luenell said. “I told him when I worked with him on ‘That’s My Boy’ last year ‘I hope to work with you again. I hope I can be one of those repeat offenders that you love so much.’ When the part came available, I got a call to come in and do it.”
Luenell said she was thrilled to be part of a talented cast as the one assembled for “Hotel Transylvania” even though she didn’t work with any of her co-stars in person while the movie was being made.
“I was by myself (in the recording studio) with just the engineers,” she said of her voiceover work. “I hope to make friends maybe at the premiere and get on the radar of some people who don’t know that I’m in the film. You know, CeeLo Green is in it, Steve Buscemi, Fran Drescher, people I’ve been a fan of. Now we are indeed co-stars and I hope to get on their radar and I hope to get more voiceover work out of it, hopefully. If it happens it happens, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. I have more than one venue to make my money.”
One money-maker remains standup comedy. Luenell may have gone from foul-mouth standup to family-friendly in the PG-rated “Hotel Transylvania” but she has no intentions of giving up being one of the bad girls of comedy.
“I haven’t changed being foul-mouthed, that’s not going to change,” she vowed. “When I’m working at a nightclub doing a 10:30 p.m. show for a crowd that’s used to what I’ve been doing for 22 years and pretty rowdy, and expect to go hard, I give them what they want.”
Watch the official movie trailer below.