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Based on Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 2010 hit of the same name, the new Tangled animated series debuts today on the Disney Channel and takes place after the events in the film as Rapunzel acquaints herself with her parents, her kingdom and its people.
The series — as well as the recently aired original movie, Tangled Before Ever After — features Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi reprising their roles as Rapunzel and Eugene/Flynn Rider, respectively, along with the music team of Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater. The voice cast also includes Julie Bowen, Jeffrey Tambor, Sean Hayes and Eden Espinosa.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Moore, Levi, and executive producer and supervising director Chris Sonnenburg (Disney’s Enchanted).
What prompted the series?
Chris Sonnenburg: Tangled was one of [Disney Channel’s president/CCO] Gary Marsh’s favorite Disney movies; it was his idea to develop it into a series. There was definitely more story to tell with these characters, how they get to their wedding day.
Zachary Levi: There was story to tell — the personal growth of the characters individually and together. It’s a fairy tale thing where they fall in love and get married, but rarely do you get the bumpy awkward road that is the courtship.
What attracted you to the project?
Mandy Moore: We [Moore and Levi] were initially a little hesitant because we are very protective of these characters and what we were lucky enough to be a part of. We wanted to make sure there really was a story to be told. Once Chris regaled us with his plans for, perhaps multiple seasons of this show, it really felt right.
Mandy, what do you enjoy most about playing Rapunzel?
Moore: She’s fierce and she precocious and her life doesn’t begin and end with a man. Ultimately that’s where she ends up, and that’s fantastic, but I think what’s important and what really drives Rapunzel is this need to figure out who she is and how she views the world, and how she fits into the world around here. That an empowering character for young women and girls to be able to look up to, especially in this day and age. I’m proud that I’m able to give a voice and life to a character like that.
Do you have a favorite among the new songs?
Moore: There are so many. I love Wind in my Hair; it’s the ultimate song of freedom, of Rapunzel recognizing that she has the ability and the capacity to explore the world around her with reckless abandon. It’s beautiful. Alan told us it was originally written for the closing credits of the film, and they didn’t use it. I never recorded it or heard it until now.
Did you discuss the project with the directors of the 2010 movie, Byron Howard (who recently won an Oscar for Zootopia) and Nathan Greno?
Sonnenburg: I was very protective of the movie. One of the first things I did was pitch Nathan and Byron. They asked a lot of questions and gave us some things to look out for. They were relieved that we were able to do some things in the series that they couldn’t in the film — getting to see the relationships with the King and Queen, and how Eugene was going to fit into the family. They had huge ideas of what Rapunzel looked like in the castle. Roy Conli the exec producer of the movie [and Oscar winning producer of Big Hero Six] has been another big champion.
Disney has been creating live action versions of its classics such as Beauty and the Beast. Would you like to do a live-action version of Tangled?
Levi: We are staking our claim right now!
Moore: I’m putting that out in the universe!
Sonnenburg: I would love to do a live-action version, if it made sense for the story!
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