Disney’s next animated film will be “Encanto,” set in a magical Colombian town and focusing on Mirabel Madrigal, the only member of her family without a magic power. Via an interview with the film’s writers and directors, Good Morning America has revealed more details about “Encanto” and its characters.
“It started out really personal. [Directors] Jared [Bush] and Byron [Howard] were the ones who came up with this idea, and they started out by researching their own families,” co-writer Charise Castro Smith told Good Morning America. “One of the big questions of the movie is, ‘Do I really see my family for who they are?’”
“I think this is the first time that we’ve really tried to handle a large extended family,” Byron Howard added. “We have about a dozen principal characters who are very, very important to the story, and that was enormously challenging, but the whole team really committed to that from the beginning.”
Here are the movie’s main characters:
- Mirabel (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” actress Stephanie Beatriz): Mirabel is a young girl whom Bush described as “imperfect and weird and quirky, but also deeply emotional and incredibly empathetic” — a character that required a multifaceted performance. “There are so many improvised moments that are in the movie; we were really lucky to have someone who could be that off the cuff,” Bush said. Castro Smith added: “It also completed translated to her vocal performances. She has incredibly vulnerable moments singing, incredibly funny moments singing — there was nothing she couldn’t do.” Mirabel’s parents, Julieta and Agustín, are voiced by Angie Cepeda and Wilmer Valderrama, respectively. Actress María Cecilia Botero brings to life Mirabel’s grandmother, or Abuela.
- Isabela (“Orange is the New Black” actress Diane Guererro): Isabela is Mirabel’s older sister and, like so many siblings, they have a complicated relationship. “Isabela is smart and brilliant and so perfect that flowers bloom in footsteps. Anything she attempts to do is a success, which is the opposite of what Mirabel’s experience has been in this family,” Howard said. “She’s in an extraordinary family where everyone is extraordinary, but Isabela is extra, extra extraordinary. It’s delicious conflict.” For Guerrero, the challenge was simultaneously playing a lovable character and an antagonist. “Diane nailed that,” Bush gushed.
- Luisa (“Feast of the Seven Fishes” actress Jessica Darrow): Bush joked that Luisa, Mirabel’s other sister, probably has “the biggest biceps in Disney history!” “She’s the one that Mirabel relies on,” Castro Smith explained. “She’s the one in the family that’s carrying all the burdens and never complaining.” Castro Smith, who said that Darrow was perfect for the role “because she’s tough but also [can be] really funny and vulnerable,” added that the character’s song is one of the standouts of the film. “It’s a crazy visual showpiece,” Howard noted. “It’s just beautiful and colorful, and Jess really owns it.”
- Pepa and Félix (“Narcos” actress Carolina Gaitán and singer Mauro Castillo): Pepa and Félix, Mirabel’s aunt and uncle, are a couple rooted in balance. Pepa is “overly dramatic, overly emotional and, for better or worse, her magical gift is that her emotions control the weather,” Bush said. “It goes from sunny to hailing to snow to rainbows… and her husband loves that about her. He’s just there to have a good time!” Bush added that the voice actors were “hilarious together.” “They are a fantastic, fun combination,” he said.
- Dolores (singer-actress Adassa): Adassa made Dolores, the daughter of Pepa and Félix, a “standout character,” Castro Smith said. “She’s the one who’s a little bit quiet but also knows everyone’s dirt,” she continued. “Lin fell in love with the character and he made room for her in some of these songs.”
- Camilo (“Marvel’s Runaways” actor Rhenzy Feliz): The character of Camilo came about because “we were interested in a teen who doesn’t quite know who they are yet and are trying on a lot of different personas,” Castro Smith said, adding that his power is shape-shifting. “Rhenzy is just perfect,” she continued. “He was really funny.”
- Antonio (“#BlackAF” actor Ravi-Cabot Conyers): “In this amazing family, when you receive your magical gift, what comes along with that is a new room for you to use your gifts in. As a member of the family who didn’t get a gift, Mirabel didn’t graduate from the nursery so she’s been living [there] with Antonio, her youngest cousin,” Bush said. “They have this really, really sweet, amazing relationship. She’s almost a big sister to him.” Bush added that Conyers makes Antonio “a character that people are really going to fall in love with.”
According to Howard, Lin-Manuel Miranda was “very keen to have it be a definitive Latin American Disney musical.” They eventually decided to set the film in Colombia.
“It was the home of magical realism, which we love and really influenced the storytelling in the film, but also because Colombia is the crossroads of music, culture, and ethnicity,” Howard continued.
Bush said that “every frame has something for people to find” in regards to the country and culture. “There are a lot of textiles throughout the movie, which is great, but there are also tiny mannerisms that I’m hoping people [who] are Colombian see and go, ‘I know what that means.’”
According to Castro Smith, there are Colombian terms of endearment and phrases included in the dialogue as well.
Miranda wrote several new songs for “Encanto,” and composer Germaine Franco wrote the score. Two songs are entirely in Spanish, and there are different styles of music throughout.
“So many of the songs are so character-specific, and the musical styles that he chose are [as well],” Castro Smith said of Miranda. “One of the first songs Lin wrote for the movie was about [Mirabel’s] very strong sister, and he chose a sort of reggaeton-inspired music. It really influenced her character. Jared and I took that character creation back into the script.”
“We worked with him really closely and in a very seamless way,” she continued. “He didn’t just write the music; he really influenced a lot of the characters and a lot of the story as well.”
Regarding the film’s message, Howard said, “Everyone fulfills a purpose in this family, and that’s one of the beautiful things you discover in the film.”
“Encanto” will be in theaters on November 24, 2021.
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