The countdown is on! In approximately one week, Luca, Pixar’s latest masterpiece, will be hitting Disney+ on June 18. The film, helmed by first-time feature director, Enrico Casarosa, the film tells the coming of age tale of two sea monsters who spend an unforgettable summer in the one place they’re not supposed to be; the monster-hunting Italian village of Portorosso. To celebrate the release of the next one-of-a-kind masterpiece from the studio, cast members Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Maya Rudolph, and Jim Gaffigan — along with Casarosa and producer Andrea Warren — virtually gathered before members of the press to talk about the film, and take questions about what it took to bring it all together.
To kick things off, Casarosa was asked about how the film was inspired by his best friend.
“I was born in Genoa, which is this poor town right on the riviera,” he began, “And I was a shy kid, a little bit sheltered by my family. And when I met my best friend at 11, kind of my world opened up. He was a bit of a troublemaker; he didn’t have a whole lot of supervision. And so, in those special kind of summers when you’re growing up and kind of finding yourself, I was kind of following him and getting dragged into, uh, troubles. And-and it really made me really think about how-how much we, um, find ourselves with our friendships, or how much friendships help us find a bit who we wanna be. And those days of summer on this wonderful, uh, coastline-it’s a very specific coastline. It’s rocky, there’s, like, mountains and sea. So, it’s just kind of a-most towns are really hanging on for dear life on-on rocks, um, and then there’s a lot of cliffs. So, I kept on thinking about the-the-the literal and the metaphor of someone who pushes you off a cliff. And-and, you know, a lot of, um, there was a lot of diving into these beautiful waters when I was a kid.”
Next, Warren, a longtime member of the Pixar team since A Bug’s Life, was asked about the importance of the film’s messages and what she was looking to convey through the film.
“It’s amazing to have such a wide audience around the world, and we do think a lot about the messages that are in the film,” she stated. “And, you know, for me, that notion of the meaning of friendship, you know, really resonated. And I think they are a few really beautiful themes in the film. One being sort of ‘Silencio Bruno,’ and-and how we all have these inner critics. And how you sort of overcome that sense of doubt. And, you know, we always — Enrico and I keep saying, you know, you surround yourself in life with some Albertos. Um, but, you know, I think that-I hope that some of those messages, you know, really reach the audiences, and especially reach kids.”
The next question was for star, Tremblay, who plays Luca in the film. When he was asked to describe his character, Tremblay had this to say:
“So, when you get to meet him at the beginning of the movie, Luca [is] a bit more of a timid kid…he wants to be able to explore the human world, but his parents have a lot or restrictions for him. But he meets his great friend Alberto, who helps him kind of step out of his comfort zone… he wants to explore what’s off-limits, you know… [But] his parents are very, very strict and they wanna protect him.”
Jack Dylan Grazer plays Luca’s best friend, Alberto, in the film. When asked about the idea behind “Silencio Bruno,” Grazer had this to say:
“I think it’s one of the most crucial things you could ever learn in your life. It’s just, like, the elimination of doubt. I got rid of my Bruno eons ago. I haven’t had a Bruno for years… I myself have always been a really impulsive decision maker… Basically, I mean, like, I don’t like to think about [the] two ways that things could go. It’s terrible, or it could be wonderful. And I choose not to think long enough about the thing to think about how terrible it could be. And it might end up being terrible decision, but I’m hoping for wonderful. There it’s terrible, or it could be wonderful. And I choose not to think long enough about the thing to think about how terrible it could be. And it might end up being terrible decision, but I’m hoping for wonderful.”
Newcomer Emma Berman, who plays Luca and Alberto’s friend, Giulia, in the film was then asked about how the journey has been for her going from unknown actress to a leading lady in a Pixar film.
“Well, this is my first movie, and it’s literally a Pixar movie, so that’s the most exciting thing ever. I have done voice over work before. I have voiced toys for Leap Frog. That’s how I started in voice over. And how I started in acting was I really liked doing school plays and I signed up for a theater summer camp, and from there I got an agent and that’s how my voice over work started,” she stated. “And this has just been the most incredible, most exciting experience ever. And it’s been such an awesome time working with Enrico and Andrea. And I’m just, as you said and I said, luckiest person in the whole entire world ever to exist in this planet.”
When asked about what it was like to play Giulia, Berman had this to say: “She’s a very strong character. She’s determined, and she’s hardworking, and genuine, and intense. But she’s also awkward, and quirky, and goofy. And I had a really fun time playing her because I relate to her in a lot of ways. That we’re both passionate about what we do, and we’re also very, like, excited and joyful people.”
Rounding up the cast were Rudolph and Gaffigan, playing Luca’s parents, Daniela and Lorenzo. When asked about what it was like playing Daniela as a parent, Rudolph had this to say:
“She’s a very serious mom. She’s not messing around, and that, to me, instantly in this movie’s case, just equals love. That protection, that strong discipline is love, and wanting to raise her family right… And there’s a certain way that Luca’s family is meant to do things, and she wants to raise her son the correct way. But… what you come to learn about her, is that she also is really protecting him from what she already knows to be dangerous in the world. And, you know, just like any parent, she’s a fierce, fierce protector. Which some might say is tough love, but I think she gets all the passes. Because you know she loves her son. There’s no question. It’s already in the formula. It’s just a matter of ‘You listen to your mama, and you do what you’re supposed to do.’ And I think deep down, she knows her son is going to — knowing her son, he’s probably going to explore. But she’s just trying to protect him because, I mean, it’s the scariest thing in the world to let your babies run out in the world and explore. And even though you know they need to, it’s terrifying, you know?… It might be one of the most terrifying aspects of having children, is knowing that they have to go out into the world, and yet just kind of holding on for that. It’s less about your child than it is about what the dangers of the world are. And I think that’s the scariest thing that she’s trying to protect him from. Once she’s there and she sees it herself, she gets right in there.”
Gaffigan was then asked about his approach to voicing Lorezno.
“I’m a father. I think Lorenzo is well-intended, but definitely distracted. And I think that most parenting partnerships, it’s a negotiation on how to raise a child. So, I kind of played Lorenzo [as a] kind of overwhelmed, hopefully well-intended as a parent. And so, I kind of brought that in and Enrico, you know, I think Lorenzo might be distracted, but he’s not disinterested… but the fun of Lorenzo is navigating the partnership with his wife, in raising Luca and him finding the right path.”
Later on during the event, Casarosa was asked why it was important to tell the story of Luca and Alberto’s friendship. He had this to say:
“I realized we hadn’t done actually a [movie about] kids being kids, so like a Stand By Me… so that was kind of part of me thinking about that. I mean, I feel like it’s also specifically a little bit pre-romance. That was something that I was interested in as well because there’s just that moment that maybe we’re not thinking about boyfriends and girlfriends yet, which is really more about the friendships. So, those were the things that I think I wanted to see, and… it came just from me experiencing it, but for example, we wanted to make sure that we found a Giulia to get there in the mix because it was really important to also find the other point of view, so… we don’t see enough of them, or… we also don’t see enough of, you know, girls close. But luckily we have a wonderful movie coming next year from Domee Shi, you know, Turning Red about coming of age of a girl, so that’s also something that I love about Pixar. We can find diverse movie from different voices and we’re starting to really embrace that effect that they can look a little different and have a different tone.”
It’s definitely something we will always love and embrace about Pixar too. Whether it’s the stories they tell or the talent they foster, they have truly established themselves as a home for real diversity.
Luca hits Disney+ next Friday, June 18! Grazie Mille!