Walt Disney Animation Studios is back at it again with an exciting tale through their all-new original feature film, ‘Encanto.’

This time around, the spotlight is on family dynamics represented by the Madrigals who reside in the mountains of Colombia in a place called, well, Encanto.

Meet the Madrigals. (Image credit: Disney)

The Madrigals bring about the typical family archetypes. They are no regular family though. They are known for their magic gifts.

In a special interview with Rojak Daily, the cast provided varying answers on which gift out of all that are present in ‘Encanto’ that they would like to have.

Stephanie Beatriz, who is the voice of Mirabel Madrigal, stated that she would like to have the ability to see the future – a gift blessed upon Bruno Madrigal.

Mirabel and Bruno. (Image credit: Disney)

But she insisted that it functions only for certain occasions which include the game of luck, learning whether she would get a pimple or if she would be stuck in traffic and should go to the bathroom before leaving the house.

“Practical reasons,” she cited with a laugh.

Beatriz is the voice of Mirabel. (Image credit: Disney)

John Leguizamo, who voices Bruno, the black sheep of the family, also feels that the ability to see the future would come in handy.

“Seeing if movies are going to do well or not or maybe I shouldn't take that part, maybe I shouldn't say that to my wife; it’s going to piss her off – so I think I could use a little seeing into the future,” he quipped.

However, it is Pepa Madrigal’s power to control the weather that he would like to have most.

Leguizamo feels that his character’s psychic power would come in handy. (Image credit: Disney)

“I would use her powers to – you know –if it's a rainy day, make it a sunny day. Climate change issues; I would clean all the pollution out. I would use it for good,” clarified the Colombian-born actor.

“Maybe I'll use it for selfish purposes too – like ruin somebody else's movie premiere that I don't like,” he added with a hearty laugh.
Directors Jared Bush and Byron Howard, as well as co-director Charise Castro Smith, made it clear that they want in on the magic too.

Isabela’s flower power is undeniable. (Image credit: Disney)

Bush has no doubt about his choice.

“For me, one hundred per cent Isabela. I want to have flowers everywhere I walk. I would smell great at all times. I'd be able to make vegetables. So, Isabela, I'm all for it,” he explained.

Howard seeks Luisa’s super strength because “I was trying to do some yard work yesterday. And I wished that I was Luisa because I am not very strong. I admire her strength and I wish I had that kind of physical power.”

Castro Smith, on the other hand, seeks the future vision. She said, “I'm going to go with Bruno right now, even though seeing the future might be scary too. I think it would just be so cool. I want to see the future. I'll be Bruno.”

What’s in a character?

As far as magical power goes, Mirabel is an exception in the Madrigal family. She was not granted one, but Beatriz sees past the absence of such a gift for her character’s special quality.

Mirabel, the magic-free protagonist. (Image credit: Disney)

The Argentine-born American actress gave her personal take on her character, saying, “I think she is deeply, deeply compassionate for other people. She is really full of love. Because of that, sometimes, she's desperate to be accepted and seen by the people that she loves the most: her family. But truly, her desire to be accepted stems from her love for them.”

“She's incredibly gifted at being able to sort of see who people really are – no matter what roles that they've been given in the family. So many of us – I think everybody's family is like that – where everyone's got these sort of like oh, well, you're the strong one or you're the brave one or the pretty one or the successful one or you're the kind of the family mess, like the hot mess.

"But Mirabel is kind of able to see people in a different way and slows down and listens to them to see really how they're feeling inside. I think that's really special – it's a really special thing about her,” elaborated the mother of one.

Diane Guerrero, the voice of Isabela Madrigal, also found a deeper connection with her character.

Guerrero sees some parts of herself in Isabela. (Image credit: Disney)

The intelligence and radicalism of ‘Seniorita Perfecta’ Isabela Madrigal are some mutual traits she shares with the fictional being. Even her own family members – who were all highly excited over the fact that she is voicing a Disney character – could immediately draw the link between Guerrero and Isabela.

While she appreciates grace, poise and the likes, Guerrero does not see why one can’t be both or more than that. She believes that Isabela echoes the same sentiment.

The Colombian-American actress noted, “She wants to rock out. She wants to make different colours and make weird plants and she wants to swing from trees. She wants adventure. And I think that's the message that you should take from that. It's like, no, I'm not just made for marriage and marrying this guy just because he's beautiful and perfect and he wants to marry me.

"It's like, ‘No, that's not my trajectory. I don't want to go that path and certainly not for anybody else. I'm going to do what's right for me.’”

The ‘Encanto’ vision

Bush shared some insights on the making of ‘Encanto.’ (Image credit: Disney)

Bush noted that deciding on those gifts was one of the most fun parts of the creative process.

He stated, “Early on, we really just talked about family archetypes and then tried to apply magical gifts to those archetypes that would make sense. So a mother who could literally heal with her food made sense – that was an easy combination – or the responsible strong one had super strength.

“And so, we wanted to make sure that our movie could function if there was no magic at all, that the family dynamics made sense. And then, we love magic and we love that fantasy element. And so, then, we crank that up and make it really fun to watch.”

Interestingly, the filmmakers had looked within their families during the initial stages and later, explored beyond it.

They found that such makeup of a family – with the strong and responsible one, the golden child, the gossip girl and the list goes on – is universal, so chances are, you’ll be able to spot some familiar traits presented and amplified as a magical gift.

Castro Smith pointed out some interesting questions. (Image credit: Disney)

Castro Smith mentioned, “I think from really early on – the very building blocks of this movie, I think from the very beginning – were an exploration of family and sort of asking ourselves the question, ‘How do we see our family? How does our family see us?’ and trying to really sort of engage with those questions and ask them in a deep way, look past the kind of facades that we kind of wear, the family roles that we play and really try to see the person more deeply.”

She also confirmed that the ultimate goal of the studio’s ​​60th animated feature film is “to have people leave the theatre, asking themselves those questions – trying to get to know their family members better and really, kind of an exercise in empathy.”

A taste of Colombia

Howard saw for himself the beauty of Colombia. (Image credit: Disney)

One of the highlights of ‘Encanto’ is its glorious representation of Colombia.

Reflecting on his visit to the South American country Howard stated “I will say for myself when I saw how vast and diverse Colombia is as a country and how amazing those families are down there, I came back thinking, ‘Wow, we have a lot of responsibility here.’”

The pressure to present an accurate depiction also stemmed from the filmmakers’ circle of close friends who are proud Colombians.

“We want them to be proud of what ‘Encanto’ is.”

Not only did the filmmakers head over to the beautiful nation for the research trip, but the Colombian Cultural Trust was also set up. It consists of a group of people who are experts in Colombian culture, food, costume and more!

Magical. (Image credit: Disney)

‘Encanto’ also features original songs by none other than Lin-Manuel Miranda who was on board from early on. Germaine Franco’s original score is also featured in this film. The element of music itself is powerful.

Touching on the subject, Guerrero stated, “Telling it (the story) through this kind of music that has never been heard on Disney before – Cumbia and those sounds that I grew up with. I've never heard that on Disney. I've never heard that in an animated film. That's groundbreaking. It's huge.”

She added, “This is the first story ever on Disney that is told from that lens of this country that I'm so connected with – Colombia. It's really beautiful. It's amazing.”

Catch 'Encanto' when it opens in cinemas nationwide on 25 November 2021.