My second interview of the year was with young actor and singer, Anthony Gonzalez, who was touring for the film he starred in which releases this month on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital. Anthony brought the wonderful character Miguel to life in the Disney•Pixar film, “Coco” which is Pixar Animation Studios’ 19th feature film. In the movie, Miguel dreams of becoming a polished musician and for such a young man he’s, much like Anthony himself, well on the way. Not only can Anthony act with the best of them but he has been singing almost his entire life, a talent he picked up from watching his older siblings. It’s appropriate to proclaim he has a beautiful singing voice and he’ll go far with it. He’s also passing the tradition of performing on to his younger brother. Read on to learn more about this sweet person, Anthony Gonzalez, so you can prepare for when you hear much more about him.
Q: Tell me about ‘Coco’
AG: ‘Coco’ is about a boy named Miguel who loves music, that’s his passion, but he has to keep his passion for music a secret because his family has banned it because what has happened with his family in past generations. He kinda struggles with that because he doesn’t have the support from his family. Because of that, he goes on a magical journey through the Land of the Dead and where he gets to meet his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. Yeah, I really loved doing the movie and the two things I love to do and have been doing since I was four years old! I have never sang and acted in the same project so that was amazing, especially all the amazing songs that ‘Coco’ has!
Q: What was your favorite part of the film?
AG: I have a lot of favorite parts but one of them is when Miguel is getting ready to sing Poco Loco. I also love a lot of the scenes where Miguel is interacting with Mama Coco because I feel like that’s so sweet.
Q: Okay, now what was your favorite song from the movie?
AG: I really love Proud Corazón a lot because I love the message that it gives. It talks about the family and I love the melody, it’s so catchy. That’s the one I sing the most. I, obviously, love Poco Loco because that one is just so much fun! Remember Me or Poco Loco was the first ones I recorded and that was so much fun.
Remember Me… I love the song so much because of the message. When I was singing it, I got the emotion because I really connected a lot with Miguel singing this to Mama Coco and it really reminded me of my grandfather who passed away when I was six. He was very special for me because he was always there for me and he would support me. He inspired me. When my mom would take my brother to singing competitions, he would tell my mom, ‘Take Anthony, too, because he loves to sing and he’s good at it!’ So, I definitely thank him. It was really emotional for me to get to sing, Remember Me. It was a way for me to connect with my grandfather again and be with him again. It was an amazing experience to get to record it.
I also love The World Es Mi Familia because the message… the world is my family, music is my language… it really shows the love Miguel has for music.
Q: I was wondering what it was like being in the sound booth for you. Was it hard to do that and were you finding yourself really getting into it?
AG: At first, I was like a bit nervous because when I was ten I went to Pixar. It was my first time there and they were telling me about the movie and that was the first time I really knew it was a Disney•Pixar movie so I was, like, ‘Wow!’ I was a bit nervous the first time but then after I started to go a lot more often, I kinda got used to it. I love this movie a lot because, umm… I really identified myself with Miguel a lot because we both have a passion for music and we both know the importance of family and, yeah, it was so much fun doing the role of Miguel; especially alongside the amazing director Lee Unkrich. And the amazing producer Darla K. Anderson and co-director Adrian Molina were just an incredible help when I was recording.
Q: Generally, you work with other people when acting but what’s it like to work on building up that enthusiasm when you’re alone in the sound booth?
AG: I really never experienced doing voice acting. I started out just acting, like, where I could use my body. That helps me… and I can use my facial expressions, which is also there to help me, but when I first started doing this, it was a bit different and difficult because I was alone. I wasn’t with Gael (Gael García Bernal) who plays Héctor, I wasn’t with Benjamin (Benjamin Bratt) who plays Ernesto de la Cruz. I wasn’t there to, like, hear them. The way they would send the lines, who was there, was the director. I would, instead of having the conversation with the characters, I would have a conversation with him. I would pretend like… he was saying all the lines and I would respond back so, he was an incredible help for me. That was so much fun doing it but for me to get into just expressing feelings throughout the voice, it was… what I did was, I just used my arms and my facial expressions still. And what’s cool is that they told me they used some of that in Miquel, which was amazing. I could see myself in Miguel, which was so cool, and I just love that they put, like, my movements and my expressions in Miguel!!
Q: That’s obvious to me now. So, you won the Annie Award for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature.
AG: Yes. That was amazing!
He uses the word amazing a lot, which so fits his personality. He also smiles a lot with a massive grin that brightens any room and is very animated as he speaks. He seems to constantly be in motion, unable to contain the energy coursing through him.
Q: What did that mean to you to win an award?
AG: That was just incredible because when they told me, ‘You’re nominated for an Annie Award,’ I was like, ‘Oh…uh…cool. I don’t know what that is.’ But then the director told me it was like the Oscars but in animation. I was like, ‘Wow!’ That’s a big deal for animation! And I was just so happy I was nominated. But something a director told me was, ‘Never expect anything.’ Because then, like, let’s say you’re so happy like, I’m gonna get the award but then you don’t… and you feel so bad. But like, if you don’t expect anything, it’s not as difficult.
Q: But you won. What was it like getting it?
AG: Yeah, so, when I went there, I was so nervous because I saw the other voice actors that were nominated. So many famous people were there, too, like I got to see Angelina Jolie and Kobe Bryant was there, which was amazing. I got to meet them both which was so much fun. They were so good, I couldn’t believe it. When I got the award, I was just in shock because this will be, like, marked in history! I was just so happy that a lot of people appreciated the hard work that people put in the film, the heart they put in the film… all the work they put to make it. Just ‘Coco’ in general, all the awards they were nominated for! They even broke a world record! It just made me feel so happy to see that a lot of people were appreciating the movie. It made me feel so good about myself that I even got an award which was amazing and alongside so many people that were experts in animation, like, so many people that were there that have been doing this for so many years.
Q: Well, what was your first acting job?
AG: My first acting job? I’ve never had that question before!
How is it possible he has never been asked this question?! Oh, yeah… he’s thirteen! Anthony giggles for being asked the question, something he does throughout the entire interview. He’s quite amusing to watch. I can’t wait to see the films he does in the future and how he turns his flair for the dramatic and his strengths and gifts into Oscar gold someday. Back to the interview…
AG: Well, I remember my first acting job. I was very young. It was for an Oscar Meyer commercial. About two or three years ago, I filmed another Oscar Meyer commercial and what’s funny about that is that in the commercial, I was with Renee Victor, which plays Abuelita in the movie (Coco) and that was amazing because we didn’t even know her, and we were going to be in the same movie!
Q: What did you have to do to get the part in this film?
AG: So, I auditioned when I was nine years old and what I had to do to get the part? I really had to put a lot of emotion in the voice and I really pretended that I was in the situation, like, if my family didn’t support me… if I was going through this journey… if I was in Miguel’s shoes. That was something that really helped me. So, I just said it like if it was me… like, it was something I would say. It turned out great.
Q: I bet it was a lot of fun.
AG: It was just so much fun getting to explore a different universe and getting to explore different things I didn’t think I’d get to experience.
Q: I heard you got to sing in your audition.
AG: Yes! What’s also cool, and I read this in a magazine I think, it said I was auditioning just for a temporary voice and I was like, ‘Wait! I didn’t know that!’ (Laughs) I was like, ‘Woah! Really?!’ They told me, later on, that Miguel was just gonna sing Remember Me but because they saw that I was able to sing, they actually added Poco Loco, The World Es Mi Familia, Proud Corazón. That… that was just, like, amazing! I couldn’t believe that.
Since my first audition, when I went to Pixar, (I knew it was about music) I was like, ‘Wait, can I sing for you guys?!’ (Laughs, smiles) And so, I did sing. I sang a song in Spanish and they loved it so much and I was so happy to show them what I’ve been doing since I was four years old. I never knew that singing would come in handy for a role! (Laughs)
Q: I loved the emphasis on family in the movie. Would you say there was a representation that you identified with, like, in terms of your own family and upbringing?
AG: Yeah, yeah! I knew coming into this film that family’s important cuz like, I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my family. I started singing because of my brothers. They started singing and inspired me to sing. They grew up doing street performance and dancing in (inaudible) a very Mexican place. There’s a lot of restaurants there and music; that’s all you hear… it’s just amazing. My two sisters would dance and sing and my brothers would dance and sing. I would just look up to them and I would, like, see that a lot of people would enjoy their performances and would have a smile on their face and they would clap, then I see my brothers would feel happy. Well, because of them, I started singing. That’s why I feel that family is important. It also shows that message in ‘Coco’ which I really resonated with a lot. And also, I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my parents, for the support they give me and for always being there every step of the way.
Unfortunately, Miguel doesn’t have that in the movie because his family has banned music for their whole life. Miguel could have shined shoes for the rest of his life but he decided to follow his heart and follow his passion and, umm, be a musician which is what he loved to do. And that’s one of the things that I… I really look up to Miguel because he can serve as a role model and a leader to many of the kids who have a passion and many other kids who want to sing and want to play the guitar, so I feel that he’s a leader. I’m happy to do the voice of Miguel.
Q: Is seeing your heritage in films like ‘Coco’ important to you?
AG: This movie was amazing because it was very unique to all the other Disney•Pixar movies. Obviously, they make you laugh, they make you cry but this one also touches on the Mexican tradition and this was very unique. It touches on the wonderful celebration of the Day of the Dead. A lot of people didn’t even know the celebration even existed, or they thought it was just like Halloween but it’s actually totally different. It’s about remembering your ancestors and connecting with them again and to know they’re not gone. They’re still here with you, their spirits are still with you, and that’s one of the things I love most about the movie! It taught other people about the culture so, yeah… representation is important because a lot of people learned many things along the way. It also touches on the importance of family and follow your dreams but besides that, there’s (sic) not many movies that show the celebration of the Day of the Dead. For Disney•Pixar to do a movie about it and represent many Latinos is just amazing and I feel so proud to be a part of that representation and to be doing the voice of Miguel.
Q: You’re from a big family, correct?
AG: We’re five. My little brother is nine, I’m thirteen and my older brother, who inspired me, is fifteen… and my two older sisters, who go to university now. We’ve all been into singing, we’ve all been into music. We all sing and we all act. See, my little brother just copied me every day. Every time he wins an audition he’s like, ‘I’m catching up to you!’ He takes it like a challenge and that’s what makes it fun. That’s why he loves doing it. In fact, I’m always there to help him in any audition. To support him and, yeah, it’s kind of like a competition but it’s also fun and we help each other out. That’s the good part of having people there that do the same thing to be there for you and help you… so that’s cool.
Q: What’s your best advice for young people who want to get into film?
AG: To just do what you love! If you’re having fun doing it, then do it. I really love singing and acting so I’m doing it! Thankfully, I have the support from my parents and my siblings so it’s easy for me to do it. And, just follow your heart, do what you love and never give up! Be really resilient… don’t do something you don’t love. You only live once! Miguel could have just done shoes, shined shoes for the rest of his life, but he decided to follow his heart and that’s good advice for other people… to just follow their heart. Do what you love and there’s always a happy ending!
He smiles when we’re done. This is a signal not only of how happy he was to have been the part of such an outstanding film but of the fun he had while being interviewed. Being interviewed is something he’ll master soon as it is this interviewer’s opinion that Anthony Gonzalez will be spoken to a lot through his many successful years in show business that is to come. It was a true pleasure getting to know this young actor and be in the presence of such a phenomenal talent and bountiful spirit of intensity. Before long, he’ll get his sea legs and navigate his way through promotional tours with ease and I hope he never loses sight of the fact that the reason doing these events is not just for promoting a film, a DVD or himself but for his fans, soon to be in the millions, to get to know him better. I hope this Q&A helps you do just that but here’s some info on the home release of the film.
Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” —the story of a 12-year-old aspiring musician’s extraordinary journey to the magical land of his ancestors—won a 2018 Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Motion Picture, topped the domestic box office Thanksgiving holiday weekend, became the highest grossing film of all time in Mexico, broke records in China and earned widespread praise, receiving 96 percent from critics and 97 percent from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. Now this vibrant tale filled with love and laughter arrives home Digitally in HD and 4K Ultra HD™ and on Movies Anywhere on Feb. 13, and on 4K Ultra HD,™ Blu-ray,™ DVD and On-Demand on Feb. 27.
Through fresh and fascinating bonus material, adventurers of all ages will tag along with filmmakers as they soak in Día de los Muertos in Mexico; explore the essential role of music in “Coco;” and learn how the cast and crew personally connect with the film’s message. They’ll step behind the scenes to discover the inspiration behind the film’s creative costuming; Miguel’s beautifully complicated family; Dante the loyal Xolo dog; and the stunning worlds of both the dead and the living. Features also include deleted scenes, insightful filmmaker commentary, the music of Coco and more.
“Coco” is packaged several ways to ensure viewers get the most out of their in-home viewing experience. The Multi-Screen Edition (formerly the Blu-ray Combo Pack) includes Blu-ray, DVD and a Digital copy, giving viewers the flexibility to watch the film on different devices. Those with 4K Ultra HD capability may opt for Digital 4K Ultra HD or the 4K UHD Combo Pack, which includes 4K UHD, Blu-ray and a Digital copy. 4K Ultra HD provides four times the resolution of HD, bringing the rich color, textures and sounds to life and immersing viewers in two fantastically animated worlds. Dolby Atmos audio heightens the memorable score created by Oscar®-winning composer Michael Giacchino and his 83-piece orchestra, as well as original songs like “Remember Me” by the Oscar®-winning team behind “Frozen,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.BONUS FEATURES*
Blu-ray & Digital:
- Deleted Scenes with Introductions – Director Lee Unkrich and co-director Adrian Molina talk about the deleted scenes and the part they played in the development of “Coco.”
o Día de los Muertos – In this musical extravaganza, the colors and excitement of Día de los Muertos come to life as we meet superstar Ernesto de la Cruz.
o The Way of the Riveras – A musical number in which Abuelita and Miguel prepare their Día de los Muertos celebration while she teaches him Rivera family history and traditions.
o Celebrity Tour – Héctor, a Land of the Dead tour bus guide, agrees to help Miguel, revealed to be a living boy, on his quest to find de la Cruz.
o The Bus Escape – The Rivera family catches up to Miguel and Héctor and attempts to halt their mission to find de la Cruz.
o Alebrije Attack – Miguel and Héctor are interrupted on their journey to find de la Cruz by a fierce alebrije.
o The Family Fix – After de la Cruz reveals his true colors, the Rivera family puts their dismay aside and comes together to repair the smashed guitar needed to send Miguel home.
o To the Bridge – As the Land of the Dead counts down to the end of Día de los Muertos, Miguel and de la Cruz come head-to-head on the marigold bridge.
- Filmmaker Commentary – Presented by Lee Unkrich (director), Adrian Molina (co-director) and Darla K. Anderson (producer).
- The Music of “Coco” – Collaborating with musicians of Mexico and some unique instrumentation, this documentary explores the beautiful fusion of music essential to the story of “Coco.”
- Paths to Pixar: “Coco” – Explore how the film crew’s personal stories resonate with the themes of the movie itself.
- Welcome to the Fiesta – A musical exploration of the skeletons that make the Land of the Dead in “Coco” so wondrous and intriguing.
- How to Draw a Skeleton – Pixar artist Daniel Arriaga gives a lesson on the quick and easy way to draw skeletons using simple shapes.
- A Thousand Pictures a Day – Join the “Coco” crew on an immersive travelogue through Mexico, visiting families, artisans, cemeteries, and small villages during the Día de los Muertos holiday.
- Mi Familia – Developing the Riveras was a labor of love that took the cast and crew on a deep dive into the meaning of family.
- Land of Our Ancestors – Watch Pixar artists lovingly construct layer upon layer of architecture from many eras of Mexican history, bringing the Land of the Dead to life.
- Fashion Through the Ages – The cast of characters in “Coco” are from many different eras, making for some magnificent costuming opportunities.
- The Real Guitar – The majestic guitar that spurs Miguel on his journey through the Land of the Dead is a unique creation. Watch as it is initially designed by a Pixar artist and ultimately realized as a real instrument by a master luthier in this poetic ode to craftsmanship.
- Dante – How the crew fell in love with the uniquely Mexican breed of Xoloitzcuintli (or “Xolo”) dogs that inspired Dante.
- How to Make Papel Picado – Join Pixar artist Ana Ramírez González as we learn how papel picado is made traditionally, and then try your own approach to this beautiful art form.
- Un Poco “Coco” – A montage of original animated pieces used to promote “Coco.”
- “Coco Trailers” – Trailers include “Feeling,” “Dante’s Lunch,” “Destiny,” “Journey” and “Belong.”