**Disney/Marvel provided me an all expense paid trip to LA for this event. All my opinions are my own and not swayed by outside sources. Photo credit: Disney and Louise from MomStart.com. **
Tomorrow, Cars 3 opens and I will tell you that it easily rivals the original Cars that we loved to much. You can see my review here: Cars 3 review and my red carpet experience here: Walking the red carpet. Owen Wilson is back reprising his role as Lightening McQueen, although this is a much more emotional McQueen than we saw in the past. In addition to the him, there is new cast members including Kerry Washington (voice of “Natalie Certain”), Cristela Alonzo (voice of “Cruz Ramirez”) & Armie Hammer (voice of “Jackson Storm”). I had the chance to sit down with these stars and learn more about their roles in Cars 3.
MY INTERVIEW WITH Owen Wilson (voice of “Lightning McQueen”), Kerry Washington (voice of “Natalie Certain”), Cristela Alonzo (voice of “Cruz Ramirez”) & Armie Hammer (voice of “Jackson Storm”)
Their dynamics and interactions on the day we interviewed them were simply terrific. They made us laugh throughout the entire interview, especially when they were joking with us that Owen Wilson was all of their mentors.
Question 1: How hard was that to channel your inner jerk?- asked to Arnie
“It was funny because I had good, strict parents, always told you to be nice to everybody and all that. Then you get in the recording, they’re like no, we really want you to kind of really jerk it up, like be like the biggest jerk. I’m yeah, got it, got it, got it. I tried to. It was fun getting to do that, getting to access and do that, but in a safe environment, where you’re not actually offending anybody. It’s good.”- AH
Question 2: So can you share how you became involved with the roles, why you wanted to be a part of this film?
Cristela went first and told us she was on her way to a stand up tour in Canada when she got the call asking if she wanted to go to Pixar. She thought she was just going to Pixar to tour it. She had no idea she was being considered for anything else at the time.
“And it wasn’t until they gave me a tour and then they sat me down in an office and broke down this Cruz character, and immediately I thought wait a minute, this is a job interview, I would have dressed up better for you. I am wearing my target vest, but still, who, what where? I became involved with it and I started working with the film in November of 2015.
And I had no idea, and honestly I’m glad no one told me because I would have been very nervous. So it allowed me the chance to be myself and not have any time to work on fake me. And I ended up getting it. I mean, who ever thinks that you’re ever gonna be part of the Pixar world. It’s incredible.”- CA
Kerry Washington got the call later to play a bossy pants, super arrogant character. She was honored to do this as she has been a fan of franchise and was excited to do something her kids can actually watch.
For Owen Wilson, John Lasseter was sitting next to him at a dinner. He told him his visions of what he saw in Lightening McQueen and Owen Wilson signed on board.
For Arnie, they called him, he said yes, and filming begun!
Question 3: Cristela, What message do you, did you want to convey with Cruz’ character?
“The fact that if you’re good and be your best, that is all that matters. If you’re the best, it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl. You just have to be the best and try hard, and that’s the best take away from this story.”
Question 4: I was wondering how, if there’s little pieces of character that relates to the child in you.- asked to all of them
Arnie answered jokingly that he hoped not!
Cristela- “I will tell you that the Cruz character started out as a boy, and they decided to make it into a female, a girl car. And John Lasseter actually came into the sound booth when I was recording one day, and I thanked him for giving me the opportunity to be part of a Pixar movie. And I was just telling Kerry, like every time a talk about anything, I try to talk about where I come from, how I grew up, get very personal, very quick. And I started telling him how I just never thought I was going to be a possibility.
It’s like so many people tell you, especially in the kind of hood that I grew up with, they always tell you that you can’t do anything. And everybody in the neighborhood is very quick to knock you down a peg. So John Lasseter took that story and actually ran with it. So there’s a speech where I get upset at Lightning, and one of the lines is dream small, he told me. And that was actually a line that I told Lasseter about my family. My family always told me to dream small, and it was that thing where they told me to dream small because they didn’t want my heart broken.
It was that thing where they always said you can’t have big dreams because big dreams don’t happen for people like us. So it’s that story where that speech and these stories that I started telling Pixar evolved into Cruz. So I always tell people what I like about Cruz, yet at the same time it’s very heartbreaking, is that Cruz gets far, and I don’t know if I get to win in my story.”
CUE THE TEARS! I loved hearing Cristela talk!
Question 5: I have a question from a reader, actually for Kerry. She wanted to know if there’s something about this character that you learned from?
“This is probably gonna seem like a stretch, because it’s such a supporting character, but one of the things it’s made me think a lot about is sort of this disposable society that we live in, because Natalie Certain is so sure that Storm in going to win, because of the numbers. She’s just so sure, and she’s certain that you can kind of discount everybody else because of the hot, new thing is the way to go. And I think we have to be really careful about that as a society, not just in our business but in general.”
“I think we sometimes prioritize hot and new more than we prioritize wise and creative. And as a society, we need to be careful about that.”- KW
She then told us the story of how she always tells her daughter to own her own voice and have a voice. So when her daughter went to see the movie, her daughter said, “Mom..That is weird..She should have her own voice!” LOL!
Kerry Washington then told us that the last season of Scandel is going to be awesome and it is going to be a great goodbye to all the loyal fans.
Question 6: Cars has such a mentor-mentee thread running through it. Who are your mentors, either personally or professionally?
Cristela told us her mentor is her mother, who passed away years ago, and her drama teachers in school.
“And I went to public high school at a very small town, and these teachers saw something in me. I will tell you my high school was 99 percent Mexican, and we used to do plays. My freshman year, we did the Diary of Anne Frank, all Mexicans. It was so weird because we didn’t think it was weird.
And we just did the show and I think that doing something like that actually taught me that you couldn’t limit yourself into doing things. We wanted to do the Diary of Anne Frank, and we did it, because realistically how many plays do you have for Latinos? Hamilton wasn’t around back then. I had a teacher in college tell me that, as a Latina, I could do West Side Story and Chorus Line, and I did West Side Story and I did Chorus Line, and then I thought, well, I guess I have to retire from theatre. You know what I mean?
I don’t even think my teachers realized what a great lesson they were giving me by telling me yeah, you can actually do a play about the holocaust and be in it. And I think that’s something, without them even knowing, in such a subtle way, taught me so much.”-CA
It was a great interview that day and I learned so much about these amazing actors!