By Zach Johnson
Ready for a magical summer?
Over the weekend, Giuliana Rancic moderated a panel with the cast and crew of Disney and Pixar’s Luca, where actors Jacob Tremblay, Jack Dylan Grazer, Emma Berman, Maya Rudolph, and Jim Gaffigan joined director Enrico Casarosa and producer Andrea Warren for a fin-tastic discussion about the film, which will premiere on Disney+ on June 18, 2021.
Set in a stunning seaside town on the Italian Riviera, Luca follows the adventures of a 13-year-old boy who experiences one unforgettable summer with his newfound best friend. Before Luca debuts on Disney+ next Friday, enjoy five highlights from the press conference:
1. Luca is about facing your fears.
Sea monster Luca Paguro (voiced by Tremblay) is timid by nature, but that changes soon after he befriends the bold Alberto Scorfano (voiced by Grazer). Luca needs to get out of his head, so Alberto comes up with “Silenzo, Bruno!”—aka the perfect way to quiet his fears. “I think we all can learn a lot from this movie, but for me, that ‘silenzio, Bruno’ part is a good way of using your words to kind of silence your anxiety about certain things,” said Tremblay. “You need to do that for acting, and I really hope it can help me in the future.”
2. The film is fun for the whole family.
Although she’s no stranger to voicing animated characters, as she did in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ award-winning Big Hero 6, Rudolph’s role as Daniela Paguro, Luca’s mom, marks her Pixar debut. “My kids, they’re all excited by Pixar, but my oldest lost her mind; I think if she had a child, she’d name it Pixar,” Rudolph joked. “This is maybe the coolest thing I could ever do. We all watched it together and they have not stopped saying, ‘Silenzio, Bruno!’ It’s pretty amazing. I have to be honest: This feels like a dream come true. It feels like you’re a part of something bigger. It’s just such a beautiful movie.”
3. Most of Luca was completed remotely.
With the exception of Tremblay, who recorded his first lines of dialogue at Pixar Animation Studios and the rest at a studio in Vancouver, the voice cast worked from their respective homes. “Being in my mom’s closet for a year, it was definitely a stretch for me—a challenge for me as an actor and as a human being,” joked Grazer, who added that the sound quality was best in his mom’s closet. Gaffigan, meanwhile, said he enjoyed working from the house his family rented in Westchester, New York, during the pandemic. “There was something kind of comfortable about recording at home. There wasn’t a commute. You weren’t in an unfamiliar space,” he said. “It felt like we were working on something very personal to Enrico, so that was exciting. It didn’t feel like a job; it felt like capturing someone’s vision and tone, which is always more fun than simply trying to land a joke.”
4. Enrico Casarosa cast a wide net during the casting process.
Newcomer Berman voices Giulia Marcovaldo, an outgoing and charming adventurer who befriends Luca and Alberto after they swim above the water’s surface, transform into humans, and try to blend in with the locals in Portorosso, Italy. The first time Casarosa met with Berman, he recalled, “The chuckles were just pouring out, and I just knew there was something about her amazing voice and her amazing energy.” In fact, both Berman and Casarosa agree she is quite similar to her “very strong” character. “She’s determined, she’s hardworking, she’s genuine, and she’s intense, but she’s also awkward and quirky and goofy,” said Berman. “I had a really fun time playing her because I relate to her in a lot of ways. We’re both passionate about what we do, and we’re very excited and joyful people.”
5. Luca is a love letter to the idyllic summers of Enrico Casarosa’s youth.
Luca is inspired by a formative friendship from Casarosa’s own life. In fact, Alberto not-so-coincidentally shares a name with his childhood best friend, with whom he spent summers on the coast of Italy. “I was born in Genoa, which is this poor town right on the Riviera. I was a shy kid, a little bit sheltered by my family,” Casarosa recalled. “And when I met my best friend at 11, my world opened up. He was a bit of a troublemaker; he didn’t have a whole lot of supervision. And so, in those special kinds of summers when you’re growing up and kind of finding yourself, I was following him and getting dragged into trouble.” Directing Luca “really made me really think about how much we find ourselves with our friendships,” he added, “or how much friendships help us find a bit of who we want to be.”