In 2013, Disney’s Frozen became the highest-grossing animated film of all time in worldwide box office. It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, with the iconic ‘Let it Go’, winning the Oscar for Best Original Song. Now all your favorites from the kingdom of Arendelle are back – Elsa, her sister Anna, Olaf, the permafrost snowman, Anna’s boyfriend Kristoff and his pet reindeer, Sven.
In the new story, Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel, Broadway’s Wicked, Rent) is hearing a strange voice calling to her that nobody else can hear. This takes her on a dangerous journey to the north where she discovers where her mysterious powers come from, and learns that her kingdom is in jeopardy.
Refusing to allow her to face this trek alone, Elsa is joined by her sister Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell, The Good Place, Veronica Mars), Anna’s boyfriend, Kristoff (voiced by Jonathan Groff, Broadway’s Hamilton, Mindhunter), his reindeer, Sven and the magical snowman Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad, Broadway’s The Book of Mormon, Little Monsters).
The cast assembled at the W Hotel in Hollywood to talk about the sequel to the movie that captured the heart of the world. The film opens this Friday, November 22nd, 2019.
Idina and Kristen, what was it like returning to these two sisters, who’ve not only inspired an entire generation but touched so many people?
Idina Menzel: There’s the macro and the micro, I think, returning to this family and this beautiful film that’s gifted us with so much joy in our lives; and connecting with another human being like Kristen, making beautiful art that we’re proud of.
And then there’s taking that out into the world. It has never really ended from Frozen to Frozen 2 because I’m singing the music from it all the time all over the world. Looking out into an audience and seeing people of all ages singing this music and reminding me how they’ve been touched by it; how they’ve learned to celebrate that thing inside them that makes them feel extraordinary in the world.
Kristen Bell: I think that it definitely never really ended. I’m very similar to Anna. I try to infuse a ton of me into this character, maybe more so than I’ve ever done.
Even though we’re roughly the same age, since my early twenties I have been living for Idina. She was obviously on Broadway very young and I was studying in New York and watching her on stage, just going, ‘What? She’s my idol.’
It was a very cool and terrifying beginning to be told by Disney, ‘Go to Idina’s house before this table read. Prepare a song just so we can hear what you guys sound like together.’ I drove to her house, stood by a piano, was terrified, my palms were sweating. But this genuine sisterly bond was almost immediate. I remember she put her hands on my shoulder and she’s like, ‘You sound so beautiful. This is going to be great.’ I just melted.
What song did you prepare?
Kristen: We did a duet of ‘Wind Beneath my Wings‘.
Josh, I hear you love Idina too?
Josh Gad: Kristen and I are roughly the same age; she’s roughly older than me. (he laughs) But I remember seeing (Idina) in Rent when I was in high school and fell madly in love. I was like, ‘Who is this? She’s incredible.’ And then in college saw her in Wicked. This girl is one of the most talented human beings alive. I was obsessed with her. I was like, ‘I’m either going to marry her or do an animated franchise with her,’ (everyone laughs).
The coolest part about watching Frozen and now Frozen 2 with my daughters is they have these guys as their role models. I get to share this with two girls who get to look up to two fiercely independent Disney princesses who I think are changing the way we view what a princess is. I love that. And that to me is the greatest part of this journey.
Kristen, you had one minor criticism about the original movie and that was Jonathan didn’t get to sing enough.
Kristen: Who knew he was talented? There’s this young kid named Jonathan Groff, came out of nowhere, and that was my one criticism of the first (movie). Look, it’s excellent but Jonathan Groff doesn’t sing. This time everybody knew what to do and Jonathan has, dare I say, one of the top three moments of the film.
Josh: I think it’s the funniest song in Disney’s animation history.
Jonathan Groff: But we were trying to go for tragic. (everyone laughs) We were completely genuine when we were making that song. There was nothing funny about it at all.
Bobby (Lopez) and Kristen (Anderson-Lopez, the movie’s composers) had said to me at the beginning, we want Kristoff to have a song. It was such an amazing experience.
Idina, can you talk about the song ‘Into the Unknown’? Especially following ‘Let it Go’ with this?
Idina: I didn’t feel that way. I’m so trusting of the situation and this creative process. They so have our backs, they’ve gotten to know us as people and as singers. They’ve made our lives easier, and Kristen and Bobby can write such memorable impactful melodies, but also tell story and involve your character through all of that. It’s quite a gift. So I can just go in there and have fun.
The only thing that I do is I warm up a lot, because I know they’re going to push me to hit the top of my range. I’m like, ‘Let’s go for some of these high notes.’ When I’m out in the middle of Amsterdam on a tour and I have a cold, I just want to go home! I have to take it down a key. They are really challenging songs.
Jonathan, why is it important for younger audiences to see that overcoming their fear with love is really important? I’m thinking about when you’re trying to propose to Anna and it doesn’t go right.
Jonathan: Yeah. Someone made the point yesterday that oftentimes it’s girls that are singing about pining after a man and the frustration of not being able to express it. Or the man has left and now they’re alone singing about it. And like the first Frozen and Frozen 2 in many ways it inverts that.
Here’s a man pining after a woman, trying to come to terms with his emotions and sing about it. I think making the true love in the first (film) about familial love, and making the center of the story these two sisters, is part of what Frozen does.
It just continues to challenge your expectations of what the stories are. I think for Kristoff, you feel what you feel and your feelings are real, so go for it.
I would dress up as Mary Poppins when I was three. My mom allowed me (at) three to go in full drag. I had great parents in that way. I hope that kids come and see this movie and have the opportunity to really feel like they can express themselves.
Frozen 2 Soundbytes
Josh talked how he feels about his character Olaf in Frozen 2.
Kristen expressed how she wanted audiences to feel when they leave Frozen 2.