Fun Facts From The Disney Pixar Coco Press Conference!

Hey All!

A few weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the press junket for the amazing new Disney Pixar Animated Film Coco. It’s a fantastic film about boy named Miguel (voiced by newcomer Anthony Gonzalez), who dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voiced by Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.

It’a an amazing movie and I’ll have my full review to you on Wednesday.

The cast and filmmakers were in attendance at the press conference including: Benjamin Bratt (voice of “Ernesto de la Cruz”), Gael Garcia Bernal (voice of “Hector”), Anthony Gonzalez (voice of “Miguel”), Edward James Olmos (voice of “Chicharron”), Alanna Ubach (voice of “Mama Imelda”), Director Lee Unkrich, Co-Director Adrian Molina, and Producer Darla K. Anderson. As a Latina, I was so proud to be in a room with so many of my Latin idols and I was so proud to be covering an amazing film about Mexican culture.

The press conference was so much fun! We opened the press conference with a live Mariachi Band with dancers! You can see video of it below!

I also got my chance to try out being a little Mariachi myself. I’m not a good Mariachi in the least, but I had a blast!

When the press conference began, I couldn’t wait to hear the cast and filmmakers chat about it. I learned a few awesome fun facts about the film during this press conference, which I wanted to share with you today!

Benjamin Bratt shared the inspiration for his character was his dad, Pedro Infante, and Jorge Negrete!

BENJAMIN BRATT:

You know, as actors, we don’t have the benefit of performing with one another. It’s a very kind of isolating experience to be in a booth, with only three other people in the room, and with Lee giving you the lines. I mean, most of what we try to do is create something organic through action and reaction. So with just this to work with, you have to pull on all kinds of other things. So I start with the images they created. And clearly, this guy, even in a skeleton form, he’s got swagger, you know. So it’s easy to kind of adopt that idea, principally. But beyond that, Lee, and Adrian, and Darla pointed me in the direction of studying some of the movie clips of Pedro Infante, and Jorge Negrete.

BENJAMIN BRATT:

These were film and music stars, in the equivalent strata of someone like Frank Sinatra. These are guys who were as beloved and as admired for their singing prowess as they were for their acting chops. And there’s plenty of footage to be found on YouTub. I studied that quite a bit. But beyond that,  my own father, who’s now deceased, and who I lost touch with many years before he passed on. I lived with him in some very formative years, from 12 to about 17. And although he was quite a bit different than who Ernesto de la Cruz is, he was larger than life – 6’3”, massive frame, broad shoulders, and a booming voice, and the kind of person that no matter which room he walked into, he commanded attention – and sometimes by saying the wrong things, well, I’ll say that much. But nonetheless, it was the kind of thing that I could draw on because it was familiar to me. So in that way, that was kind of like the lynch pin for me, with all this other stuff to create someone that enjoyed that adulation – not only enjoyed it, but they actually used it as his life’s blood.

Edward James Olmos shared something meaningful about what his character meant to him and what was that like for him to play that character. You have to see what he said! It’s a super long answer, but so worth the read!

EDWARD JAMES OLMOS:

When they invited me , Lee and Darla, to come up to Pixar, they said that they were doing this film, and they wanted to inform me about it, and ask me my opinion about it. They were so incredibly respectful of the material that they were working with, that immediately, it transcended into understanding on my part. And when they asked me to play the role, I was privileged. I mean, this became a real honor, because that character is what the story is. I mean, every single person in the room that’s seen that movie understands very well that what it means is if you don’t remember your loved ones, they’re gone. If you don’t tell the stories of that loved one, they cease to exist. And it was that simple. And so when they asked me to do it, I said, “Of course. It’d be my honor.” And so we went ahead and did it. But I didn’t read the script. They didn’t hand me the script.

EDWARD JAMES OLMOS:

They told me the story, but they never gave me any of the information that the story really projected, other than the fact that this young boy wanted to be a singer, and his family wasn’t supporting him, and he ends up inside of this world. And so with that, I went ahead and I did it. And this was – God, two years ago? How long ago did we record this? They’ve been working on this for six years, you know. And so two years ago, I did this. And lo and behold, I go see the piece on Monday, because I hadn’t seen the movie. So I said how can I do press if I don’t know what I’m talking about? So they had a screening over at Disney, where my offices are. And I walked in, and I sat down, and I would see maybe two Latinos in the entire room. They were, you know, all of the people who I guess work at Disney; it’s the studios themselves. And they were all sitting there, and they’re kind of jaded people, you know, and you can tell by body language that, you know, they were kind of tired; they were sitting there, waiting and waiting and then the movie started. An amazing feeling came across immediately – the quality was superb; the feeling, the music, the sound – everything. Performances were extraordinary. And as it went along, my part came in, and I said, “Oh, my God,” I felt emotional for this guy. And Chicharron became, within a matter of a minute and a half to two minutes, became someone that I could identify with, you know – a relative, a friend, a person, that – and is said, “Wow.” And then – boom – when he leaves, and I’m – I was like Miguel. “Where’d he go?” You know. And the answer that Hector gives him was right on. He said, “Well, nobody’s thinkin’ about him anymore, and he’s disappeared now; he’s gone.” And, “Where’d he go?” “I don’t know.” You know, none of us do. So then the story started to evolve. And by the time it got to the end, I was in hearing sobs.  I mean, harsh, heaving sobs, you know, like one of those kind of things not only is pride taken over, because I am Mexican, full blooded on everybody’s side; not only am I a person who has been inside of this industry for over 50 years; not only have I really tried to understand myself inside of this art form – but this really became something really profound. And so what ended up happening is that I looked around immediately, because I was in the last chair, in the back. And I looked around, and these people were all crying – everybody. Everybody was so intensely, just trying to hold onto it, and wiping their faces, and holding on, and watching the movie. I said, “Hell, this thing just hit everybody like a ton of bricks.” Remember, I didn’t know anything. And you didn’t know anything. So you sat there and watched the story unfold.  I told Lee this yesterday, and I told Darla, too, and we were standing there taking photographs – I said, “You have no idea what you’ve done. You won’t know for like, 15 or 20 years.”

I cried in the movie and I’m not ashamed to say it. The cast and their families apparently sobbed as well!

ALANNA UBACH:

Yes – waterworks.

ALANNA UBACH:

Waterworks. I was sitting in between my husband, and my mother. And I told my mother that I had a surprise for her, because she used to sing Laorona to me when I was a little girl, in order to make me go to sleep. Laorona will put you to sleep if you don’t go to sleep. That’s another story. I kept telling her, “I have this surprise for you.” And she said, “Oh, I can’t wait. I love surprises.” And so the lights dim, and she’s watching it, and she sees Coco, the Awella for the first time, and she says, “Aye, You’re Coco.”  I’m like, “No, no, no, Mom. Just keep watching.” She said, “Okay.” I watched her cry, like three times, and then Miguel is finally introduced. “Aye, Alanna, you’re Miguel? You’re the voice of Miguel.” I’m like, “No, Mom, keep watching. Keep watching.” And finally Laorona came on, and it was just waterworks with my mom. It really meant a lot for me to do this for my husband and my mom.

The producers and director shared how little Anthony got the part! He sang for them even though they didn’t ask him to! Anthony shared his grandfather was his inspiration growing up!

ANTHONY GONZALEZ:

I knew that I was gonna sing that day in the booth, I would get so excited, because you know, I love to sing, and especially these wonderful songs that Adrian Molina,  they’re just, they’re just incredible messages. They send incredible messages, and they’re just incredible lyrics that I love to sing. I just love the rhythm, the melody, and the lyrics, like, “Remember me” – it’s very sentimental. And for me, my grandfather passed away when I was six years old, and he was very special to me because he would always support me in my music career. And so yeah, every time I would come to sing like, songs, it would remind me of him, and it would make me feel like he was there, and he was present with me.

We wanted to know what the case and filmmakers wanted the message of the film to be for the youth of the Latino community, and here is what they had to say.

ALANNA UBACH:

Well, I think it was very important for Pixar to make a movie like this, because what they did was, if anything, they painted such an exquisite portrait of the afterlife. And so you can only hope that – my son, who’s 12 weeks go – when he’s old enough to understand this movie, he can walk away saying, “Mama, I am not afraid of death. I’m not afraid of the afterlife.” What a beautiful world this would be if the afterlife was like this. Could you imagine? And also, that they really did pay such a respect to the one quality that Latin families, Latin American families have across, and that is the importance of familia, and that is something that no presidents, or borders, or politics can ever break – that importance, the importance of familia.

GAEL GARCIA BERNAL:

Yeah, I’ve been saying this a lot, but I really have to stress it over and over again, because I have to do a very personal dedication, this film is for the kids, the Latino kids growing in the United States, because in the official narrative, it’s been said that their parents, or grandparents, or great-grandparents are rapists, murderers, drug traffickers. And these kids are being born in a moment of huge, complete fear, and they have to fight against the lie, and it’s very complicated to argument against the lie. You know?

GAEL GARCIA BERNAL: 

This film, with many other forms of expression that happen day to day, it’s gonna give kids a way to feel confident of where they come from, of where their parents, great-grandparents, grandparents come from, to know that they come from a very sophisticated culture, and to know that they have the possibility to always have access to that hive, they can come up with new answers to what’s needed in life that we, as humanity, need right now. I think this would be the thing I would say, you know? I mean, this film opens up that discussion, and it is a beautiful reflection on death, and the celebration life.

They were all so amazing to chat with and they created one amazing film!

COCO opens in theatres everywhere on November 22nd! It’s also screening with Olaf’s Frozen Adventure playing right before it, so you get two amazing movies for the price of one!

Stay tuned for my review of the film Wednesday!

For more info on the film:

Like COCO on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PixarCoco

Follow COCO on Twitter: https://twitter.com/pixarcoco

Follow COCO on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pixarcoco/

Visit the official COCO website here: http://movies.disney.com/coco

 

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