Ray and The Last Dragon debuts in theaters TOMORROW and it is an absolute must see! In preparation for the release, Disney invited me to a virtual press conference for Raya and The Last Dragon with Kelly Marie Tran (voice of “Raya”), Awkwafina (voice of “Sisu”), Gemma Chan (voice of “Namaari”), Daniel Dae Kim (voice of “Chief Benja”), Sandra Oh (voice of “Virana”), Benedict Wong (voice of “Tong”), Izaac Wang (voice of “Boun”), Thalia Tran (voice of “Little Noi”), Don Hall (Director), Carlos Lopez Estrada (Director), Osnat Shurer (Producer), Qui Nguyen (Writer) and Adele Lim (Writer). Be sure to check back this weekend to see my review of Raya and The Last Dragon!
1.This film was all made from home, in over 400 homes. What was that like?
Daniel Dae Kim absolutely loved the character of Chief Benja and took a lot of pride in that character. He loved recording from home because his home is in Hawaii, and it is always very far away from where he films. He said there was hiccups to filming at home though. Some recordings took over an hour and in one particular scene, Daniel Dae Kim realized none of his hour recordings got filmed. After that, it was hassle free.
2. Did you ever have a meeting to make the characters flow?
Kelly said all the credit went to the story and editing team. All the actors were isolated and recording by themselves. She says to see the movie all finished and to see the chemistry, that was all the expertise of Disney animation. She said it was an incredible experience.
3. How did you select this perfect cast?
Osnat said it was Disney magic that brought the whole cast together. He felt like he won the lottery getting the cast he got for this movie. He loves what this movie represents and it was so beautiful doing it.
4. How was it seeing the details, the food etc, in this movie?
Awkwafina said it was so realistic and so detailed. They recorded simultaneously as animation was being done. Sisu looks just like her which she loved.
5. I loved seeing all the principles of family in this movie. Can you tell us what made you go back to your culture on this film?
Thalia said family is such a big part of her culture and you can see this in Raya and The Last Dragon. She loved seeing the sense of strength that is seen, that is also seen in Southeastern Asian families. Also the sense of independence that is so important in her family and throughout the film.
6. How do you turn something so complex into something universal?
It is a fictional place but to Disney’s credit it really went deeper and ran through so many communities. There is such a strong culture in Southeast Asia and it was important to incorporate that. All the elements needed to come together and create a beautiful, yet divided world.
7. Who are your comic influences, Awkwafina?
She is obsessed with Genie from her childhood. When she was approached to play Sisu, she was given the chance to build her own voice to explore and play. It was big shoes to fill but she loved that Sisu was part her voice.
8.What was it like working with the martial arts specialist?
They said they were fortunate as Qui was also a writer on this film. So he doubled as writer and martial arts specialist which helped with filming.
“Raya and the Last Dragon” takes us on an exciting, epic journey to the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons lived together long ago in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well.
“Raya and the Last Dragon” features an outstanding voice cast, including Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, Benedict Wong, Izaac Wang, Thalia Tran, Alan Tudyk, Lucille Soong, Patti Harrison and Ross Butler. Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada are directing, with Paul Briggs and John Ripa co-directing. Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho are the producers, and Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim wrote the screenplay.
RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON opens in theatres and on Disney+ with premier access on March 5th.
*Thanks to Disney for inviting me to this press conference.*