A former teen-music sensation and the guy best known to TV audiences as ‘Chuck’ make beautiful music together in Disney’s ”Tangled”.
A slick twist on the classic Rapunzel yarn, ”Tangled” – which features musician cum actress Mandy Moore (”A Walk to Remember”, T”he Princess Diaries”) as the title character and Zachary Levi (TVs ”Chuck”, ”Alvin and the Chipmunks : The Squeakquel”) as her unlikely suitor and savior Flynn Rider – is a worldwide phenomenon, making well over a $100 million dollars at the U.S domestic box office. But as Moore and Levi tell CLINT MORRIS, big bucks and rave reviews doesn’t always equal go sequel.
Did you find, even prior to ”Tangled”, that you had a large following with the youngsters?
Mandy Moore: No, I don’t think I did?
Zachary Levi : I did. I seem to have garnered, thanks to Chuck, some fans in that younger age bracket – and I tend to utilize that [Laughs]. Those kids will do anything for me. Was just thinking, I might even get them to start robbing banks for me [Laughs]. No, it’s great though, you build an audience young and ideally when they’re older they’ll still be a fan.
I think I read somewhere that you both actually chased this movie? Knocked down Walt’s door in an attempt to snag a screen test, did we?
Zachary Levi : Oh yeah, totally!
Mandy Moore : Oh yes, I sure did!
Zachary Levi : To get to audition for a Disney musical and more, get to sing a singer/songwriter’s songs.. .that was enough in itself!
Mandy Moore : I didn’t need to be persuaded, I was like ‘tell me where and when!’
Now Mandy, I know you’ve contributed to the soundtracks of quite a few family films, but I couldn’t recall whether or not you’d actually voiced a character in one?
Mandy Moore : I had worked on a few animated films here-and-there but nothing quite like this. We were working on this one for a year, and though we came on very late in the process, I felt more of a connection with the characters and the project this time around. It was very exciting coming in every few weeks and seeing a new animated sequence in its completed form. I loved feeling a part of this group.
Were you guys in a booth together when you were recording?
Mandy Moore : Never! We never worked together at all….except…
Zachary Levi : Except for the duet
Is that difficult? Not having each other to play off of?
Zachary Levi : It presents its own set of challenges but… I don’t know… everything has its own set of challenges. This was not what we thought going into it, but we let that go, and we just put our faith in the directors.
I got feedback from Mandy’s sessions, which helped. I knew the directors were in with her on her sessions, so they knew what she was putting out and would let me know. But the way it works is, I’ll do my line, give a pause, do another line, give a pause… very weird, you’re talking to yourself, but also a fun challenge in that you have to create this whole world of your own and really utilize your imagination in a way that you haven’t since you were a child.
Mandy Moore : And that’s something you also don’t get to do when doing live-action work
I imagine it’s also a bit of a challenge not being able to use any of your regular tools – your expressions, your body movements… only your voice; does it feel restrictive?
Mandy Moore : No, not restrictive at all, but things have to be a tiny bit heightened. You just have to find that balance. I really loved it. I’m ready for the sequel!
Well that’s what I was going to ask, the film really does lend itself to a franchise. Are there any plans for a ”Tangled 2”?
Zachary Levi : The movie has just come out, so it feels weird talking about sequels, but I do think Disney will probably do a spin-off cartoon or something like that. I’d imagine that’s what they’ll do, they do that with most of their films – especially the ones that do well, and we’re doing pretty well so far. I can’t imagine what they’d do as a movie sequel. It’s great that the film is a hit but even better than box office is the feedback you get from the fans – I’ve had people on Twitter tell me they’ve gone to see it four times! I haven’t even seen it four times! That’s amazing! But it’s so great that they really love it that much!
What’s next for you guys? Chipmunks 3, Zachary?
Zachary Levi : I don’t think so – though I know they are making a third. My character was more of your typical sequel fill-in character, so there’s no need for him to carry over to another one. I imagine there will be a guy cast who’s similar to me, and looks a bit like me, who plays their other cousin or something – or Dave’s brother maybe?
[''Alvin and the Chipmunks 2''] was a wonderful project to work on though, the Bagdasarian family – Ross’s father created the characters in 1958 and they still maintain it and own it – have taken very good care of the franchise and have been very successful with it.
Do you plan to lend your lungs to another record Mandy?
Mandy Moore : Yeah! I start recording a record at the beginning of the year!
Wonderful! We have all your CDs at the Morris abode. There are only a couple of my daughters CDs that I can tolerate in the car – one is the Grease soundtrack, the others are yours.
Mandy Moore : Really!? Thank you! I’m in good company, thank you very much!
Bit of a side note, you were one of the first interviews I did – about a decade ago! You were doing a shopping center promo tour for your first album…
Mandy Moore : Oh yeah, I remember, how embarrassing! [Laughs]
Zachary Levi : Did you really Mandy? A Shopping Centre promo tour?
Mandy Moore : Oh yeah, sure did, but it was a lifetime ago
Lots of CD signings and meet-and-greets back in those days, yeah?
Mandy Moore : Yeah, I did all the shopping centers and CD signings!
Zachary Levi : I didn’t think they did that anymore? Shopping centre tours!?
Mandy Moore : Well this was like ten years ago…
Zachary Levi : But still, I thought those finished in like 1987!?
Mandy Moore : Not like a mall tour, this was just like doing an in-store appearance or performing for media at a record company’s showcase
Zachary Levi : Ok, I’ll give you that!
Mandy Moore : That’s so crazy though… and wow, it’s great to speak to you again all these years later!
You’re still here! You’re doing something right!
Mandy Moore : Somehow I’m still around
Don’t be silly, you’re doing great guns! You’ve made fantastic films, great music and have refused to remain pigeonholed.
Mandy Moore : Awww thank you.
So in terms of your music, what style are you concentrating on these days? Because you’ve definitely experimented with a few different styles
Mandy Moore : I signed a record deal when I was 15 and there was no creative control whatsoever . At the time, I was just so excited because I was given the opportunity to sing to an audience every night and go on tour. It started to feel very limiting though, and in fact the only two records that I’ve ever had a hand in writing were the last two.
I don’t really know what the next record will be but what I do know is that I think I’ve got a lot to say.
Speaking of, you’re both on Twitter. Do you find it a useful tool for staying in touch with people and receiving feedback?
Mandy Moore : I guess it is… but I just find it fun. I like it that all these people are there [following me] and I can send these people information instantly – whether it be something goofy or something serious. It’s nice knowing I have the power to do that. I don’t necessarily look at the feedback though – it’s sorta dangerous.
Zachary Levi : And I don’t think it matters whether the feedback is good or bad. If you read a whole bunch of stuff where people are blowing smoke up your ass that might go to your head. You have to learn to be as neutral as you can. You hope that people dig what you’re doing.
But Twitter is such a powerful device. Look at what [President Hugo] Chavez is doing in Venezuela –he’s trying to ban Twitter and Facebook! … and look what happened in Iran… and what about everyone changing their Avatar’s to green!? It’s fascinating! It’s fascinating that information can travel [clicks fingers] like that.
Speaking of, Mandy I saw a tweet from someone that wants you to play Lois Lane in Zack Snyder’s new Superman movie. Seems you’ve got some fans out there that would like to see that happen?
Mandy Moore : Really!? Wow! Me?…. Thanks! I’ll get right on that! [Laughs] Let’s get them on the horn and talk!
Zachary Levi : I’ve already turned [Superman] down [Laughs]. They talked to me about it, and I decided it was a pretty sad part.
So if not Superman Zachary, what are you going to be doing next?
Zachary Levi : There’s more Chuck. I go back the first of the year to shoot ten more episodes. We wrap in mid-April. I’m looking at scripts and projects that I might be able to do in that hiatus but I don’t just want to do one for the sake of doing one so unless it’s something really good I might just take a vacation.
Guys, thanks for ”Tangled” – it really is a delight.
Zachary Levi : Thanks so much Clint. Really great chatting to you…happy holidays!
Mandy Moore : It was great to speak to you again after all this time Clint! And thank you for being so passionate about our film!
“Tangled” is in cinemas Jan 6