Encanto Stars Stephanie Beatriz And John Leguizamo On Family, Colombia, And Lin-Manuel Miranda [Interview]


Encanto Stars Stephanie Beatriz And John Leguizamo On Family, Colombia, And Lin-Manuel Miranda [Interview]

Stephanie Beatriz is not voicing the first Colombian Disney Princess. "I would say I'm a Disney heroine, which would include all the princesses and myself," the "Encanto" star said in an interview with /Film ahead of the release of the latest Disney animated musical (in theaters now).

"Encanto" is not your typical Disney animated musical either, though it's got all the hallmarks: a spunky female protagonist, goofy animal sidekicks that may or may not talk, magic houses, characters bursting into song-and-dance. And of course, that childlike sense of awe that comes with every good Disney movie.

But "Encanto" is different for a few reasons. First, it's a film with a strong emphasis on family, and all the ways that family can help you and make you suffer. Second, it's the first Disney film set in Colombia and deeply rooted in the specificities of that culture, as the half-Colombian Beatriz and Colombian Hollywood veteran John Leguizamo know and appreciate.

"When I first read the script I was very moved by the fact that you see in the stage direction said, 'Set in Colombia' and all the names and all the little food and music details was so specific," Leguizamo said. "You feel like, 'Oh my God, my culture, my country, it's valid and people are going to fall in love with it and go to Colombia.'"

I chatted with Beatriz and Leguizamo about getting to star in a movie set in and about Colombia, seeing themselves in the characters of "Encanto," and what it takes to sing a Lin-Manuel Miranda song.

"That's An Amazing Thing To Have Happened During Any Time, But My Lifetime." Encanto Stars Stephanie Beatriz And John Leguizamo On Family, Colombia, And Lin-Manuel Miranda [Interview]

So, Stephanie, you're the star of a Disney animated musical playing a young woman who's trying to find her identity in a very revered family. Would you say you're Disney princess?

Stephanie Beatriz: I would say I'm a Disney heroine, which would include all the princesses and myself. Yeah.

Well, so as a Colombian Disney heroine/princess, is it exciting to play a role that is close to your own background?

Beatriz: Yeah, it's amazing. It's absolutely incredible that Disney chose to set this film in Colombia. Specifically chose to set it in Colombia, centering a Latinx family that looks like us. That's an amazing thing to have happened during any time, but my lifetime. Then for me to be in it voicing the character is like... I don't know what to say about it other than it's really amazing.

John you've been working in Hollywood for so long, playing characters —

John Leguizamo: Too long. I'm geriatric now.

You've been playing characters of many varying ethnicities, but you get to play Colombian in this movie. What was that like? Was it very satisfying? Was it exciting?

Leguizamo: I got to say when I, when I first read the script I was very moved by the fact that you see in the stage direction said, "Set in Colombia" and all the names and all the little food and music details was so specific. You feel like, "Oh my God, my culture, my country, it's valid and people are going to fall in love with it and go to Colombia."

So Stephanie, Mirabel is such an interesting Disney protagonist in that her power is that she's got no special powers. Instead, her main quality is her drive to help people. What was it like playing a character like that who's one main quality is that doesn't have any special powers? That's so unique both for the Madrigal family, but also for a Disney protagonist.

Beatriz: It felt very true to my own life in which I don't have any magical powers and often feel like I'm an outsider or I don't belong. I've felt that way in the past, if guess I should say. As I've gotten older I've gotten a lot more confident in who I am and, and, and the fact that I do belong and I am a worthy person, worthy artist, I have value. I have something to say and add to the art forms that I'm interested in doing. But I think Mirabel reminds me a lot of myself at her age. Meaning full of love, and full of heart, and very brave but also completely unsure of herself. Can point to anybody else in the room and talk about how amazing and incredible they are, but once that lens is turned on herself doesn't really feel like there's anything there. I can identify with that a lot.

"It's Like Therapy Animation." Encanto Stars Stephanie Beatriz And John Leguizamo On Family, Colombia, And Lin-Manuel Miranda [Interview]

John, Bruno is a very unhinged character I might say. Playing a character like that, were there any moments that you got to improv or make choices that were outside of the script?

Leguizamo: Yeah, what's so great about these directors, Jared and Byron is that they welcome improv. They want you to try to be your quirkiest, your oddest, your weirdest self, and it's okay because we're in this booth by ourselves. So they let me do all this bizarro stuff. Half of it is not in the movie, but some of it remains. It was great to play this character Bruno whose sort of the guy that the family doesn't want. The guy who always says the wrong thing, the guy who always ruins every holiday and now he's welcomed back into the family, so it was a beautiful journey.

So you guys spoke a little bit about the family, and there's such an emphasis on family in this film. What is your favorite part of how the film depicts Colombian families? But also how it examines the pressures that family can put on a person?

Beatriz: I think that is my favorite part. How the film examines how families can inadvertently put a ton of pressure on members of their own family to sort of perform their roles. Because that doesn't really get talked about a lot, particularly in animation—

Leguizamo: Never in animation. It's like therapy animation.

Beatriz: Yeah. I think Disney has done something really special in that, not for nothing this film is going to come out during the holiday season. That's a time when many families are able to gather. After quite a few years of not being able to gather at all, we're all going to come together with our families and hopefully go to the movie theater and sit in the dark and watch this. Then on the car ride home or on the subway ride home, or however you get home you're going to talk with your family about what you just saw and what your roles in your own family are. That's a really important discussion to be having with kids and extended family members. "How do we function as a unit? What's good and what's bad. What can we work on?"

Leguizamo: Yeah, because it's so cool the way it captures the way families end up putting you in a slot, and you become the strong one, or the pretty one, or the guy who talks too much, or the comic. Then you're locked in that for the rest of your life. Here's Mirabel trying to break through these extraordinary people and find her magic.

Is that something that either of you personally experienced? Not to get too up close and personal about it!

Leguizamo: Well, you are getting up and close and personal about it. Yeah. It's all right. I relate to Bruno in a lot of ways, I was always the guy that was saying the wrong thing. Always the loudmouth, always being told, "John don't say that please. What is my sister going to think?" I go, well, "Let her hear it. You said it behind her back now it's for her to hear it in front of your face." So I was kind of like that guy, so I relate to Bruno.

Beatriz: I really relate to Luisa in that sometimes I feel like, "Ugh, I so many things I have to balance. I don't know, what if I drop one? What's going to happen?" As a new mom, I think a lot of new moms feel that way. Mom's period feel that way. "I've got so many balls in the air and if I don't keep moving, and keep everything going it's all going to fall apart."

"I Think You Just Sort Of Try To Show Up And Do Your Best And Not Screw Up On Lin-Manuel Miranda Song." Encanto Stars Stephanie Beatriz And John Leguizamo On Family, Colombia, And Lin-Manuel Miranda [Interview]

In addition to the Colombian cultural of it all, this is a musical with songs composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. His songs have such a unique style to them. They're very fast, they can be energetic. What is the most challenging part about singing a Lin-Manuel Miranda song?

Leguizamo: Well, I have an incredible voice, best voice you've ever heard. I just can't hit a pitch or remember a melody. So it was really challenging for them to find a place for me to sing in this movie. But Lin, he spent a lot of hours polishing my work and making me do it over and over until it functioned. But she's naturally gifted, so that's a different experience.

Beatriz: I know if I would say "Naturally gifted." I think the most challenging thing sometimes is to figure out where to breathe in his songs because the way that they're structured is not necessarily... You got to plan it out. You got to literally plan out, "Okay. On this eighth note or whatever I've got to... So that I'm ready for the next big chunk of it." Because he composes, right? He's a songwriter, but he also composes the structure of these songs in a way that they inform storytelling. So you want to stick to the map that he's given you because he's doing something beyond your own understanding, I think. So you don't want to mess up the gift that he's giving you. Right? Because it's so good. So I think you just sort of try to show up and do your best and not screw up on Lin-Manuel Miranda song.

Leguizamo: Because her voice is incredible. She delivers these songs that are like stream of consciousness, right? That first song ["The Family Madrigal."]

Beatriz: Yeah. That first song.

Leguizamo: She's spilling out her guts, everything that's going on inside her young teenage brain. It's so beautiful.

Beatriz: Thank you.

"Encanto" is playing in theaters now.

Read this next: All 58 Walt Disney Animation Studios Films Ranked From Worst To Best [Part One]

The post Encanto Stars Stephanie Beatriz and John Leguizamo on Family, Colombia, and Lin-Manuel Miranda [Interview] appeared first on /Film.


Tags: Hollywood, Movies, News, Disney, Colombia, John, Disney Princess, Byron, Jared, Stephanie, Lin Manuel Miranda, Lin, Bruno, Beatriz, Madrigal, John Leguizamo, Luisa, Stephanie Beatriz, Mirabel, Leguizamo, John Bruno, Walt Disney Animation Studios Films, Stephanie Mirabel, Bruno Beatriz

Source:  https://www.slashfilm.com/669897/encanto-stars-stephanie-beatriz-and-john-leguizamo-on-family-colombia-and-lin-manuel-miranda-interview/



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