CHRISTINA APPLEGATE OPENS A WORLD UNLIKE ANY IN “THE BOOK OF LIFE”

THE BOOK OF LIFE

Like all good books, that first sentence, that first burst of an author’s voice will dictate the rest of your journey through the subsequent pages. Movies are no different, where the first image or the first sound of a character’s voice will instantly transport you into the world on screen. In the new animated fantasy-adventure “The Book of Life,” that first burst of color is provided by what looks like an ordinary museum.

But audiences will find a world beyond their imagination right through those doors.   Film and television star Christina Applegate opens up and leads audiences into a tale that does everything but go by the book in “The Book of Life.”

As the mysterious tour guide named Mary Beth, she seems to have been awarded the thankless task of guiding a group of rowdy kids who would rather be anywhere else but on a museum tour. Yet, the charming Mary Beth has something special in store for them, escorting them into a secret room that houses the powerful magic of “The Book of Life.” For director Jorge R. Gutierrez and producer Guillermo del Toro, the character of Mary Beth had to be voiced by someone with great charm, humor and warmth. It was a crucial role because she would not only entrance the kids in the film, but the audience as well. Familiarity and richness of tone were essential.

“It’s just so exciting to see it come to life,”Applegate enthused. “It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before!”  Applegate takes us more into the rich and colorful world of “The Book of Life” in the following q&a.

Q:           Christina, you’ve voiced roles for animated projects before “The Book of Life.”What motivated you most in wanting to become part of this unique motion picture?

A:            I just wanted to be intrigued by the story because in animation audiences do not get to see our faces. We need to be incredible storytellers through our voices. It can be a magical experience, so you want to make sure that it’s something that you find incredible. Then you can really get behind it and tell the truth of a character, of a story.

Q:           All aspects of “The Book of Life” are as diverse as you will ever find in an animated film. How does its multiculturalism enhance the experience for the audience?

A:            I think there is something to be said with the story behind Day of the Dead and the remembering of people that we love. They do stay alive because we remember them, because we honor them.  That’s a beautiful part of the story.  It’s not just a love story, it’s not just an adventure. It has a meaning and it’s something that’s very near and dear to Jorge. His growing up in Mexico and being enmeshed in the culture, he really wanted to bring this message out because a lot of people probably don’t understand what Day of the Dead means. I think at the end of it, you’re going to have an incredible experience, visually and comedically, with the music and everything else. But, the underlying theme is much deeper.

Q:           The artistry behind the animation has certainly teased the imaginations of audiences who have seen the trailers. What makes the look of “The Book of Life”such a singular achievement?

A:            When I saw the photographs, I was so intrigued. But I thought, “How is this going to be fluid? Are the characters going to be really static?”I didn’t know how that was going to turn out. But, my golly, they did such an incredible job because it’s magical!  By making a lot of the characters appear to be made out of wood, this folk art aesthetic brings about the uniqueness of this movie. And it makes it really mystical.  It really does. Oh, the Land of the Remembered and how gorgeous that is! It’s so cool to be a part of something like that.

Q:           When you do get a chance to be part of something truly original, what sort of lasting effect do you feel?

A:            You know what’s very cool about when you walk away from doing an animated film? You never know what it is until you finally get to see the artistry that’s been created over these months. I didn’t get to really see what Mary Beth’s face was doing or how she moved her body. I had nothing to do with that, which is so interesting.  It’s different from when you’re doing a film and you know how it’s going to turn out because you’re physically being these characters. But with this, they’ve created her. I provided a voice, they created this human being.

Q:           Audiences will be taught the importance of writing their own stories. You continue to live such an inspiring life, what are you most proud of in your narrative?

A:            Raising an incredible kid.  That’s my story.  I’m raising an incredible kid.  She’s cute.  She is a life changer to anyone who comes in contact with her! I know we all feel that way about our kids. I get it, but she’s the most amazing kid in the world!

Family-filled adventure begins when “The Book of Life” opens in cinemas in 2D and 3D on October 16 from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

MUSIC FROM THE HEART IN “THE BOOK OF LIFE”

CARISSA AND MICHAEL_US THE DUO _ THE BOOK OF LIFE

One of the world’s most influential personalities, Oprah Winfrey, was recently enthralled by the upcoming animated feature “The Book of Life” from 20th Century Fox directed by Mexican filmmaker Jorge R. Gutierrez whose unique visual and storytelling flair were enjoyed by many in his television works such as “Mucho Lucho,” MAD” and “El Tigre, The Adventures of Manny Rivera.”

Another new song, “No Matter Where You Are,” is performed by a real-life married couple known as Us the Duo, who introduced the tune as their marriage vows – and then landed a record deal.            The song is performed by Diego Luna and Zoë Saldana.   “Us the Duo” is the first musical (artist) act to have been established via Vine and had become Vine’s first major-label signing.  Oprah became so enthralled by the end-credits song entitled “No Matter Where You Are” that she had the real-life married artists “Us The Duo” included in her U.S. tour of “The Life You Want Weekend.”  The couple introduced the tune of the song as their marriage vows that landed them a record deal.

In a recent interview with Billboard, “Oprah fell in love with the movie and she heard about us,” says Michael Alvarado, married to Carissa. “We are super jazzed about what’s being spoken about and just trying to inspire the listeners there,” says Alvarado further who shared that their mission is to “inspire people through music, encouraging people to pursue the passion they have in life and showing that love still exists, that relationships are important.”

In the “Book of Life,” Gutierrez presents yet another unique, vibrant and visually spectacular world and characters with a stellar voice cast that includes Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, Diego Luna, Christina Applegate, Ron Perlman, Ice Cube and Kate Del Castillo.

“The Book of Life” tells the legend of Manolo (Luna), a conflicted hero and dreamer who sets off on an epic quest through magical, mythical and wondrous worlds in order to reunite with his one true love and defend his village. Manolo, Maria (Saldana) and Joaquin (Tatum) – three best friends – have been close since childhood.  Their bond was interrupted when Maria, who was a bit too rebellious for her father’s taste, was sent to Europe to become a proper lady.  Joaquin joined the military academy and became a legendary bandit-fighter.  But Manolo didn’t go anywhere – he stayed in San Angel and practiced to become a bullfighter, as his father did before him, and his father before him.

Music is a big part of the magic of “The Book of Life,” and the production was lucky to land the formidable talents of two-time Oscar® winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla, the father of Latin alternative music, making his animated feature film debut.  Under his supervision, the filmmakers landed rights to cover, with a Latin twist, beloved songs from Mumford and Sons (“I Will Wait”), Elvis Presley (“Can’t Help Falling in Love”), Radiohead (“Creep”), Biz Markie (“Just a Friend”), Rod Stewart (“Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”). Additionally, there are beautiful, original songs written by Santaolalla and the award-winning Paul Williams.

“The music hails from all cultures and eras,” says Gutierrez.  “The story is set in the past but the music is current.  And the idea behind the characters singing these familiar songs is that mariachis don’t compose music; they sing familiar songs.  So that’s what Manolo does; he grabs music from the culture.”

“Gustavo is known to mix the sound of Latin America with Northern influences, including electronic, punk and rock,” del Toro elaborates.  “That became the sound of “The Book of Life” – the idea that these songs from all over the world, and from different eras would go through the film’s ‘sound machine’ to sound authentically Mexican, but at the same time have a global reach.”

For example, Manolo’s soulful singing of Radiohead’s “Creep” emanates from what he thinks is a quiet moment of solitude – though Maria is listening.  He then embarks on the time-honored tradition of serenading the girl of one’s dreams.  Accompanied by his rotund mariachi friends, the Rodriguez brothers (voiced by Cheech Marin, Gabriel Iglesias and Ricardo Sanchez “Mandril”), they try fun, though hardly romantic versions of Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” and Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend” – the latter to the accompaniment of a toy piano.

These are great songs, to be sure, but Maria is unimpressed.  That is, until Manolo, absent his three pals, warbles a new song, “I Love You Too Much” (music by Gustavo Santaolalla, lyric by Paul Williams), which touches Maria’s heart.  “Manolo realizes he has to sing from the heart and not use someone else’s song,” the director explains.  “‘I Love You Too Much’ is a love song that pours out of his heart and soul, and it works!”

“The Book of Life” is set in Mexico, but its music, heart, humor and themes are universal – as are its talented cast and crew.  “We have people from all over the world who worked on this movie,” says Booker. Above all, the film is about the importance of shaping one’s own destiny.  As The Candle Maker (voiced by Ice Cube) tells us, “Write your own story.”

“The Book of Life” opens October 16 in cinemas (2D and 3D) from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

CHANNING TATUM’S FIRST LEAD ROLE IN ANIMATION IN “THE BOOK OF LIFE”

channing tatum

When it came to casting the new fantasy-adventure “The Book of Life,” director Jorge Gutierrez and producer Guillermo del Toro knew they would need a specific voice for the role of the town hero Joaquin. As the male counterpoint to the soulful Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna), he is both the best friend and romantic rival for the heart of Maria (voiced by Zoë Saldana). The two roles not only put a new spin to the classic “Prince Charming” type, they also represent the two sides of what it is to be a hero: the poet and the muscle.

Channing Tatum’s ascent to stardom has been built on roles that offered both archetypes at once, a key reason why he was sought for the character of Joaquin. With “The Book of Life,” Tatum was thrilled to finally enter the arena of animation in a lead role.  And, when the role was pitched to the actor by Gutierrez, Tatum responded eagerly to the director’s impassioned telling of “The Book of Life.”  “When we pitched Channing the movie, he loved it and was laughing the entire time,” says Gutierrez.  “And then he took me aside and said, ‘You know I’m not Mexican, right?’  We had a big laugh, and Channing just jumped in and made Joaquin his own.”  Tatum further shares in the following q&a the fun and unforgettable experience in voicing Joaquin.

Q:           It’s hard to believe that “The Book of Life” is your first real lead role in animation?

A:            It was fun! I’ve been wanting to do it for a while, but the opportunity never came up. I heard the story as to why Jorge wanted to make the movie. I signed up like that. It’s just so personal to him, you know? It’s his story to tell, but I was pretty honored to be a part of it.

Q:           What was the process like for you in finding your “voice” as Joaquin?

A:            “I didn’t have anything specific in my head that I was going for.  I had to say certain Spanish words, like the name of the town. You want a uniform pronunciation. You want everyone to be saying it the same way, so there were certain things, like how you would say Maria. You want it to all feel like it is   of the same world. But it’s really all just trial and error. I was having so much fun.

Q:           Has becoming a new father played a role in selecting the projects you want to take on as an actor?

A:            “I’ve got a lot of explaining to do with my daughter, eventually.  But, I think just as every parent gets into those shoes, you start to realize that you want something for them to be able to watch before they’re fifteen years old. I definitely didn’t do “The Book of Life” just for my daughter. I really did it because I loved the story and everything that it touches on. I’d always known about the Mexican “Day of the Dead” and the general emphasis of it. I didn’t know the finer points and the beauty in it.  It was just really cool art to me. I probably didn’t even have the real definition of what the day means until I spoke to Jorge.

Q:           A key theme in “The Book of Life” is how we should all write our own story. If you review your life’s narrative, what part are you most proud of to date?

A:            I think there’s always more to write. I’m really proud of the story that I’ve written so far. We have to live to the highest extent. Don’t ever be afraid to make a choice because you can always make another one. I think I’ve done a lot in my life. I can definitely say that I’ve made, not wrong turns, but turns where I’ve been like, “Alright, I don’t want to do this anymore.” You go on and you learn from every single thing you’ve done in your life. I think that’s reminiscent of our characters in the story. They’re all so alive and they’re all not perfect. They all have a sort of an inner song, their dream or want. You’ve got to just keep moving towards those dreams.

“The Book of Life” opens October 16 (in 2D and 3D) in theatres nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

“THE BOOK OF LIFE” Becoming A Hero Feature

Christina Applegate, Ron Perlman, Biz Markie, Jorge R. Gutierrez, Channing Tatum

“The Book of Life,” a vibrant animated fantasy-adventure, tells the legend of Manolo, a conflicted hero and dreamer who sets off on an epic quest through magical, mythical and wondrous worlds in order to reunite with his one true love and defend his village.

But Manolo and his equally courageous best friend Joaquin are not your typical Prince Charmings; the object of their affections is far from being your average princess; and “The Book of Life” is a fairy tale that doesn’t go by the book.

Presenting a grand mythology set in visually spectacular worlds never seen before, the film brings together director Jorge R. Gutierrez’s unique visual style and a crowd-pleasing mix of adventure, action, comedy, romance and music.

“The Book of Life” (in 3D and 2D) opens October 16 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox.

ZOE SALDANA’S EXTRAORDINARY FAIRY TALE IN “THE BOOK OF LIFE”

ZOE SALDANA AS MARIA IN THEBOOKOFLIFE

From visionary filmmaker Jorge Gutierrez whose unique visual style and vibrant storytelling technique, “The Book of Life” tells the story of three best friends – Manolo and his equally courageous best friend Joaquin are not your typical Prince Charmings; the object of their affections is far from being your average princess, hence “The Book of Life” is a fairy tale that doesn’t go by the book.

Our story begins in a museum, where we meet a mysterious tour guide named Mary Beth, who is taken on the seemingly thankless task of guiding a group of rowdy kids who would rather be anywhere else, on a tour.  But Mary Beth has something special in store for them, and escorts them into a secret room, where the magic of “The Book of Life” begins to unfold.  “This particular area of the museum looks like Latin America basically exploded into it, turning it into a place filled with life and color,” says Gutierrez.

Christina Applegate voices Mary Beth and introduces us to the principal characters and their hometown of San Angel. We meet Manolo (voiced by Diego Luna), who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart.  Before choosing which path to follow, Manolo embarks upon an incredible adventure that spans three fantastical worlds, where he must face his greatest fears.  The object of Manolo’s affections, Maria, voiced by Zoë Saldana, is an independent, strong-willed and fun-loving young woman who is wooed by her best friends Manolo and Joaquin (Channing Tatum), from their time as children to a reunion years later as adults.

She’s certainly not your average “princess,” and is equal –or superior – to her suitors in any number of ways.

Maria is close to both boys, but perhaps the wistful Manolo is her true soul mate.  “Even when they were kids, Maria had a soft spot for Manolo,” says Saldana.  “She understands and feels a connection to his sensitive nature.  I guess deep down, Maria is an artist and a philosopher.”

And, maybe, she’s a songstress, too?  At the very least, Saldana loved the idea of singing in the film, especially when she learned that Luna would be singing as Manolo. “At first, I wasn’t sure Jorge would take my request to sing very seriously.  And then, they told me, ‘Well, there’s this beautiful song, ‘No Matter Where You Are,’ and we want you to be a part of it.’  And I had a really great time with the song.”

Manolo, Maria and Joaquin – three best friends – have been close since childhood.  Their bond was interrupted when Maria, who was a bit too rebellious for her father’s taste, was sent to Europe to become a proper lady.  Joaquin joined the military academy and became a legendary bandit-fighter.  But Manolo didn’t go anywhere – he stayed in San Angel and practiced to become a bullfighter, as his father did before him, and his father before him.

“But even after this long absence, Maria discovers that Manolo and Joaquin haven’t changed a bit,” says Saldana. “They’re still fighting for Maria’s attention, but she’s her own woman, who is going to make that decision – and many others – on her own.  She doesn’t consider herself a prize that’s going to be won by one of these great guys.”

Indeed, love has to wait; first Maria must make some tough decisions, sprint into action to defend her town from marauding bandits, and tend to her four-legged best friend, Chuy, a pig gifted to her by Manolo. A loyal and protective pet, Chuy weighs in at over 300 pounds, sounds like a goat and acts like a puppy.

“The Book of Life” springs to life in cinemas (2D and 3D) on October 16 from 20th Century Fox via Warner Bros.