Last week, I had the chance to view the movie Zootopia. I absolutely loved it. I thought it was very clever and it was a great family movie. I loved that it had a lot of humor for both the adults and kids. It had great messages in the movie about not giving up on your dreams and goals. After watching Zootopia, I had the amazing opportunity to sit down with a couple other bloggers and have a roundtable discussion with Byron Howard and Rich Moore, the directors of Zootopia.
I have to say that both Byron Howard and Rich Moore are very nice gentlemen. They were very fun to talk to. You can tell that they have a passion and love for the work that they do. I could tell that they were both so proud of the movie Zootopia had become. The other bloggers and I were able to discuss a lot of fun topics with them. Here are a few of the things we discussed:
What were some of the different influences for Zootopia?
Byron Howard: “Rich grew up on Jungle Book and I grew up on Robin Hood and that there was a lot of the DNA of Robin Hood in Nick and Judy, that world really. We looked at Disney and the legacy of these films and wanted to do something new with it.”
We talked about how personal experiences became part of the film.
Byron Howard told us a story about how he wanted a pet fox as a child. His dad took him to a wildlife preserve to observe a real fox and how he ended up changing his mind. He said foxes are very wired and crazy. Byron and Rich both talked about how they were bullied as kids and how they incorporated those experiences into the film.
How did they selected the voice cast for the movie? I mentioned that I could see a lot of Jason Bateman in the character of Nick Wilde, whom he voiced.
Rich Moore said, “It’s not a mistake or by chance that the characters start to look at the actors because we shoot a lot of reference videos of the actors as they are recording. The animators will look at the reference video, not to copy directly what they are doing, but what’s the mouth shape or what did Jason’s mouth look like when he said that word and it sort of starts to seep into the performance. That even though you have this character that is a fox, with a long snout, and an animal face, it starts to look like Jason.”
In also talking about the rest of the voice cast, Rich Moore had to say “We were really lucky to get the top people that we wanted for this film. It’s different for every animated film, even every film at Disney. We will build a board, almost like a bulletin board, of characters and actors, that remind us of the character, and we will pin it up and get everyone in the room on the same page and say, ‘Oh he is like this character or he is a little like Jason Bateman and from that we will start to think who will be good because someone has to eventually play this guy or this girl. It was a dream cast to work with.”
We talked about the character development and the buddy relationship between Judy and Nick.
Byron Howard: “Judy is such a strong character that I feel doesn’t need another character to complete her. She is very determined and strong-willed. We wanted them to have a close deep relationship. Nick is a very cynical character that doesn’t open up to anybody and at one point in the film, he shares something very personal, maybe the most personal thing that he had ever shared with anyone, to this person that he didn’t even like a couple of days ago. It was really telling the fact that they bond over very similar moments in their lives. This movie is about discovering layers that are hidden in yourself and others that you don’t know are there. The revelation that happens when you take a moment to look deeply in yourself and to learn more deeply where other people are coming from. People that you might initially think, I understand that person completely, when you really don’t.”
Rich Moore: “I like that Judy is a character that is not looking for romance to make her life better. That she’s a character that’s following a passion, she’s following a calling that doesn’t involve a man or a male character to get her at that level. This is more of a maturation story of self-discovery but she does need a friend. Throughout the story, you can see that she has the world against her, that she doesn’t have a friend. Nick becomes that common misfit who has the same sort of background. It’s difficult to heal themselves in a vacuum but when a conversation between two different people that share common backgrounds can happen, that’s healing.”
I had so much fun talking with Byron Howard and Rich Moore. This is definitely an experience I will never forget.
Make sure to take your family to Zootopia. It is now playing in theaters!
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