What are Kerry, Cristela, Owen and Armie laughing about at the Cars 3 interviews?
The feeling of the room was alive with excitement, anticipation and jubilance as Cristela Alonzo (Voice of Cruz Ramirez) and Kerry Washington (voice of Natalie Certain), Owen Wilson (voice of Lightning McQueen), Armie Hammer (voice of Jackson Storm) walked into the room. We were going to ask the voice stars of Cars 3 the questions we had been dying to ask them ever since we received word we got to interview them. This was also the first time we had a panel of 4 actors instead of the solo or duel interviews we had conducted in past press events. No one knew how the interview was going to translate but we didn’t expect it to be so hilarious!
Armie Hammer was given the first question.
You channeled your inner your inner jerk for this character. How hard was that?
I had good, strict parents, who always told you to be nice to everybody, so then you get in the recording [of the Jackson Storm Voice]. But they’re like no, we really want you to kind of really jerk it up. Be the biggest jerk.
I’m yeah! Got it, got it, got it.
[They countered] we want more, way more.
It was fun getting to do that. Getting to access and do that, but in like a safe environment, where you’re not actually offending anybody. It’s good.
Cristela Alonzo on how she got ‘The Call’ to be in Cars 3
I was on my way to do a stand up tour in Canada, and I got a call from my agent asking me if I wanted to go to Pixar. They didn’t tell me anything. They’re just, ‘Do you want to go to Pixar?’
I’m like, well that’s a random question, but yes!
They flew me up to Pixar. I had no idea I was being considered for anything. I didn’t know anything until I got there, and then they made me sign papers and I’m [thinking] what am I doing?
And it wasn’t until they gave me a tour, sat me down in an office and broke down this Cruz character. I thought wait a minute, this is a job interview, [I was thinking] I would have dressed up better for you. I mean, I’m wearing my Target best, but still!
I had no idea, and honestly I’m glad no one told me because I would have been very nervous. It allowed me the chance to be myself and not have any time to work on ‘fake me’. I ended up getting [the part]. Who ever thinks that you’re ever gonna be part of the Pixar world? It’s incredible!
Kerry Washington on getting to play Natalie Certain
[Pixar told me] there was a roll to play. A super know it all, bossy pants, super arrogant character. Would I be willing to go way against type?
I said yes!
Honestly, I’ve been a fan of this franchise from a long time, and just was honored to be a part of it and excited to do something that my kids could watch.
Owen Wilson on becoming Lightning McQueen.
John Lassiter was sitting next to me at dinner and was telling me about the idea [of Cars]. I didn’t think necessarily anything would come of it. I didn’t know who he was or anything and then it all sort of fell together. And now I have this little guy. [Holds up the Lightening McQueen toy]
Armie Hammer didn’t have as a dramatic story.
[Pixar] called me, they said do you want to be in the movie? And I was like, yup.
**Laughter fills the room**
I really wish I could find a twist or like an angle in there, but it was really that easy.
Is there’s little pieces of the character you portray that relates to the child in you?
Armie Hammer: I hope not!
Cristela Alonzo: I will tell you that the Cruz character started out as a boy, and they decided to make it into a female car. John Lassiter came into the sound booth when I was recording one day and I thanked him for giving me the opportunity to be part of a Pixar movie. I started telling him how I just never thought I was going to be a possibility.
It’s like so many people tell you, especially in the kind of hood that I grew up with, they always tell you that you can’t do anything. Everybody in the neighborhood is very quick to knock you down a peg. So John Lassiter took that story and ran with it.
There’s a speech where I get upset at Lightning, and one of the lines is ‘dream small, he told me’. And that was actually a line that I told Lassiter about my family. My family always told me to dream small, and it was that thing were they told me to dream small because they didn’t want my heart broken. It was that thing where they always said you can’t have big dreams because big dreams don’t happen for people like us.
So it’s that thing where like, you know, it’s that thing where I try to bring that part of me into Cruz, and I think that that’s when they realized that a lot of the heart of the story came from that.
I was able to ask the question, Cars has such a mentor-mentee thread running through it. Who are your mentors, either personally or professionally? I thought it was a simple enough question. I assumed we were going to get answers like an Aunt, or a high school teacher or a trusted friend but what ensued was a lot of jovial talking and laughing about mentors. I almost got the sense that I might have almost unlocked an inside joke or discussion. But possibly not. You be the judge.
Kerry: To be in the movie, we’ve all agreed to say that Owen is our mentor.
Armie: That’s was a requirement for being in the movie.
Owen: It just feels good to be a mentor.
Cristela: Everyday I wake up in my bedroom and I see every movie poster Owen done.
Armie: He sent them to all of us.
Cristela: He signed every one, ‘what’s your face, I love you.’
Armie: Signed, Your Mentor.
But then Cristela reigned in the laughter and love by answering that her mother was her mentor as well as her drama teacher.
I went to public high school at a very, small town and these teachers saw something in me. I will tell you my high school was 99 percent Mexican, and we used to do plays. My freshman year, we did the Diary of Anne Frank, all Mexicans. I know, it was so weird because we didn’t think it was weird.
We just did the show and I think that doing something like that actually taught me that you couldn’t limit yourself into doing things, you know. We wanted to do the Diary of Anne Frank, and we did it, because realistically how many plays do you have for Latinos? Hamilton wasn’t around back then. I had a teacher in college tell me that, as a Latina, I could do West Side Story and Chorus Line. I did West Side Story and I did Chorus Line, and then I thought, well, I guess I have to retire from theatre. You know what I mean?
I don’t even think my teachers realized what a great lesson they were giving me by telling me yeah, you can actually do a play about the holocaust and be in it, and actually do it. And I think that’s something, without them even knowing, in such a subtle way taught me so much.