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The Magic of Bringing Disney-Pixar’s COCO to Life

We attended as a guest of the venue

The minute that I saw the Disney-Pixar film COCO at the world premiere, I fell in love with the magical story. It is truly the best film of the year, and I can’t wait for your family to experience the magic in theaters on November 22nd. After attending the premiere of the film, I went back to Los Angeles to learn more about the film from the cast and creators.

When I entered the room at the Beverly Hilton, the room was decorated beautifully, and I took my seat eager to learn more about what it was like to make the film. Before the cast and creators came out to greet us, we were given a surprise performance from the Mariachi Divas and Folklorico dancers. Everyone in the audience was singing and dancing in their chairs to the beautiful music, and then it was time for the cast to take the stage.

As the cast came out onto the stage, the entire audience cheered. With all of us in the audience already seeing the film, we knew what amazing talent and hard work went into bringing the story to life. As the cast took their seats, they were making comments like, “We are all on cloud nine,” and “It was a modern cultural masterpiece,” which they are right – the film is my favorite Disney-Pixar film ever created.

The creation of the film all began in a meeting at Pixar. Lee Unkrich (Director) had worked on Toy Story 3 with Darla K. Anderson (Producer) and Adrian Molina (Co-Director). Unkrich had always been interested in the tradition of Día de los Muertos and spent some time researching to understand more than he already knew. The more that he researched, the more that he learned how much the importance of family is to the celebration. “It is all about this obligation that we all have to remember our loved ones and to pass their stories along. I started to see the potential to tell a unique story, to tell a story that could only be told in animation, that could be visually dazzling, but also had the potential to have a real emotional core to it,” said Unkrich. That was the beginning of their journey. The team immediately headed to Mexico to begin research, learn about traditions, the culture and spent time with many families in Mexico.

After learning about how the film came to fruition all of the attention went to the talented young actor who voiced Miguel, Anthony Gonzalez. It was the first film for Gonzalez, and everyone in the audience applauded when hearing this fact. Gonzalez said, “I just really loved making it. It was just so much fun doing the voice of Miguel.” Unkrich shared with us that at Anthony’s first audition he was ten (now 13), and at his first audition, they read him a bunch of scenes. When they were all done, he took out a CD and said, “I brought a song I want to sing to you.” At that point, they didn’t know if Miguel was going to be singing in the movie, so that wasn’t part of the audition. They didn’t have a CD player, and Anthony sang in acappella a beautiful 10-minute long song. “We were already wowed by his audition, and then that just really sealed the deal,” said Unkrich.

The voice of Ernesto de la Cruz was done by the amazingly talented Benjamin Bratt who we learned was inspired by a family member. He said, “The first inspiration you draw from is the image they create. We don’t have the benefit of performing with one another, and you have to pull from other things. It was 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. 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 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 lynchpin 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.”

Then all of the attention went to Gael Garcia Bernal (the voice of Hector) who was asked what it is like to be in a movie so close to Mexican culture. He said, “It is such a privilege. I was just amazed by the amount of research and that they were putting forth a very personal point of view. I’m really proud and lucky to be a part of it, and that Mexico can give this to the world, and everyone in the world can adopt this tradition, this reflection on death.”

Your family is invited to learn more about the Mexican culture, and Día de los Muertos is the beautiful and timeless story of COCO in theaters on November 22nd. Learn more about COCO online, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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