When the premise and the cast to Disney’s Christmas film Godmothered were first announced, which told the story of an inexperienced Fairy Godmother-in-training set out to help make a wish come true, one would think the casting got all mixed up.
The film stars Jillian Bell (Brittany Runs a Marathon, 22 Jump Street) as Eleanor, the hopeful, yet naïve, fairy Godmother-in-training, wanting to show the world that people still need fairy godmothers. After finding a mislaid letter from a 10-year-old girl in distress, Eleanor tracks the little girl down and discovers that the little girl, Mackenzie (Isla Fisher), is now a bitter 40-year-old single mom working a tiring job at a news station in Boston. Having lost her husband several years earlier, Mackenzie no longer believes in “Happily Ever After,” but Eleanor is determined to fix that frown upside down and find what truly makes her happy.
Jillian Bell is used to playing the charismatic and sarcastic characters in television and film, so playing a fairy godmother was quite different for her, especially in a production like Disney. “It’s Disney. So, there’s a lot that goes into it,” says Bell in a virtual press conference last week. “There’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen, not in a bad way, but just a lot of people. So, I think figuring out who your character is and really sticking to that and being open to other ideas and collaborating on a different level. It just feels like a totally different thing.”‘ Bell did find inspiration in Cinderella’s fairy godmother from the Disney movies. “She’s OG. She’s the original godmother.”
Known for her sweet-natured and whimsical characters, Isla Fisher seemed like the obvious choice to play a Fairy Godmother or a Princess. Instead, Fisher took on the challenge to play the cynical character in what she describes the film as Muse meets Elf.
“We’ve got a lot of physical comedy and a lot of gags and slapstick,” says Fisher. “And then we have also word play and my character is more the straight man in the story which is something I haven’t really enjoyed before [or] had the opportunity to get to play.”
The most surprising of the roles in the film was by Santiago Cabrera, whose roles consisted of the big, tough guys in Star Trek: Picard, Big Little Lies, and countless of serious roles, to play the cheesy, yet handsome, news colleague, Hugh. He is your typical cheesy dad in a Disney movie, but Cabrera liked that Hugh was different from his previous roles.
“Well, it was an appeal because you always wanna change things up,” Cabrera says.
Cabrera enjoyed playing who he saw as the ‘underdog’ in the film, “I love that part that he was the guy who’s like a serious journalist who wanted to report important stories and good news and he’s in this last in the ratings, sensationalist morning show, being abused by his boss. You know, that kind of stuff. So, there was a lot of fun elements to it. And, of course, the cast and everyone — it was great. But, you know, you always wanna change things up. So, if it’s an opportunity to do something different then, you know, you go for it.”
Godmothered premieres December 4 on Disney+.