A successful actress (Saved, Because I Said So, Grey’s Anatomy) and recording artist (Amanda Leigh, So Real), Mandy Moore has now moved into another genre, voicing the role of Rapunzel in Disney’s new animated movie Tangled.
A twist on the old fairytale, Rapunzel is a beautiful and feisty tower-bound teen with 70 feet of magical, golden hair. Kept hidden by Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy), who kidnapped her from the King and Queen when she was a baby, Rapunzel longs to go out into the world.
When a charming thief, Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), hides in her tower, he is taken hostage by Rapunzel, who insists he accompanies her on her first trip into the outside world.
Can you talk about being a part of Disney’s animated history now?
It’s starting to hit me. I think you sort of have an inkling when you get cast in a film like this, but it takes getting to the junket at Disneyland for it to fully come into focus!
It’s such an honor, I know that sounds cliché but truly, wow, to know that I’m apart of a project as classic as Disney films are is so cool, because I know going into it that it’s a project that will stand the test of time, will be around long after I’m gone.
It’s something that I’ll be able to share with my kids one day and my grandkids, and just the idea that perhaps this film will mean to children what the seminal movies of my childhood meant to me, Little Mermaid, Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, it’s still above and beyond me.
Did you look back at the other Disney animated princesses, so that you wouldn’t repeat what they did, so that you could put your own stamp on this?
I didn’t look back at any of the other princesses, merely just for the fact that I approached this as a completely new project and I had a lot of faith in the directors’ hands and our screenwriter, Dan Fogelman. I thought he wrote a really tremendous, funny, engaging story. I decided to just go for it on my own I guess.
Do you have a favorite Disney character?
Ariel, I saw her at Disneyland last night with Prince Eric, they were on the bough of the boat with Belle and the Beast. There’s something about Disneyland that turns you into a kid again, because I was like, ‘Ariel,’ I was waving to her and she waved back, and I was so excited. I was a little girl again, like, ‘Oh my God, she’s there!’ It was so cool.
Can you talk about doing the duet with Zach?
The duet with Zach was the one and only time that I actually met Zach during the project until now, and I was so floored with his voice. I remember, we went in to a rehearsal room at Disney to learn the song together, and the first time he opened his mouth my jaw was on the ground. I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ I just didn’t know what to expect and to me he has the quintessential Disney, hero, leading man speaking voice and then the singing voice matched too. I’m really happy for him that he gets to show the world he has such an amazing voice in this film.
What’s the process like for you to do voice over work – was it easy?
I’ve done a little bit of voice over work before, but this felt like a totally different ballgame. And I didn’t expect going into it that we weren’t all going to be in the same room. So I was a little disappointed initially. I was like, ‘Oh my God, everyone’s going to be best friends, and we’re all going to be having dinner together,’ so that wasn’t the case.
I felt lucky to have Nathan (Greno) and Byron (Howard), our directors, indulge me in reading the scenes with me. Poor Nathan had to be Mother Gothal every time. And he even pitched his voice up. It helped me understand the story and the scenes and the rhythm and how it needed to play. But I still was astonished seeing the movie that they cut it together and it felt so seamless.
What part of the story resonated with you the most?
I liked that it wasn’t the stereotypical prince and princess, and the little I knew about Rapunzel, about the fairytale, was the damsel-in-distress in a tower and (the phrase) ‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair,’ and she needed the prince to save her.
I liked in our story that we turn that on its head a little bit. She needs Flynn to escort her, she needs someone to physically take her because she’s never been out in the real world before, but she ends up saving him. She ends up saving his tail way more than he’s there to help her out.
I liked the fact that they sort of become this unlikely family with Maximus (the horse) and Pascal (the chameleon. But it’s really the two of them together that end up opening up and learning more about themselves than they ever thought and revealing a side to themselves that maybe neither of them knew existed.
At the end of the day I also like portraying a young woman who is fearless, who is spirited and engaged and doesn’t let anything hold her down. And then at the end of the day realizes that it’s not the 70 feet of magical hair that is what makes her special, it’s what’s within her already, that was always there.
I like that, I like being able to have young girls, and young women especially, have someone like that to look up to.