Who doesn’t love hearing insights into how a Pixar film is made? Especially, one that is so recent and touching. Well, last week, Coco Director, Lee Unkrich, and Co-Director, Adrian Molina were guests on NPR’s Fresh Air, hosted by Terry Gross. During the approximately 35-minute interview, the duo discussed how the film was originally thought to be a proper musical, how it shifted over time, and even shared some very good insights into how they built the world of Coco.
Speaking of world-building, one of the most intriguing portions of the interview was when Lee noted that, “There wouldn’t be any handrails or guardrails in the land of the dead because everyone’s dead already — they don’t need safety items. If somebody falls off the top of a building it’s more of an inconvenience than anything.”
Additionally, there were some really great background details behind working with Anthony Gonzalez (the voice of Miguel).
Lee noted, “One of the things that was very tricky was that we needed him to be of a certain age. He needed to play a character that was 12 and since it takes so long to make our films, I couldn’t hire him too early on for danger of his voice changing in the middle of production. By the time we were finishing recording with him, his voice was sounding different, so we had to do some digital trickery here and there to make sure it all balanced out.”
Lee and Adrian also went on to discuss that when they hired Anthony, they didn’t know that Miguel was going to need to sing in the film (that element wasn’t written yet). It was only later on when Anthony wanted to sing a Mariachi song for them that they discovered his talent. Once they were going through rewrites is when they breathed a sigh of relief knowing that their lead could already fit the bill.
Listen to the entire interview by downloading/streaming the podcast on NPR’s site (audio and transcription).