The current pandemic has forced nearly everyone to be quarantined in their homes for the foreseeable future. As a result, many are discovering what they have been missing through streaming services. For some studios, it has allowed certain films to be put on their respective streaming services originally set for a theatrical release. Films like Disney +’s The One And Only Ivan certainly has much to offer than just the general message about the ethical treatment of animals. Still, it is also a reflection on how people can relate to the current situation at hand.
ThatsItLA had the chance to participate in the virtual press conference for The One And Only Ivan, where the cast got to share some of their favorite moments during the production. Below are the top six things we learned from it.
1 – Elephant Onesies in The Recording Room
In The One And Only Ivan, Brooklyn Prince and Angelina Jolie voice Ruby and Stella, respectively, a pair of elephants who are the big stars of Mack’s Big Top Circus. The film gave the two a rare opportunity to record their voices together. So, Prince found a creative way to make it a very memorable experience. She thought it would be a great idea if both of them wore elephant onesies in the recording room.
“The first time I met her was at the Governor’s awards, and then I saw her at the Critic’s Choice award. When I saw her at the Critic’s Choice awards I was like, hey, we should wear elephant onesies in the recording room,” Prince said. “And I go home. And I’m like, mom, mamma, mamma, please buy me and Angie elephant onesies. And my mom was like, ‘I am buying Angelina Jolie an elephant onesie to match my daughter.'”
The anticipation was overwhelming for Prince as she could not wait to see Jolie wearing an elephant onesie. While Prince’s parents tried to keep her expectations in check, she was excited to see that Jolie came to the recording booth, wearing the elephant onesie. “Me and her have a selfie together wearing our elephant onesies,” she said. “But in the end, it got kind of hot. So, we just tied it around our waists.”
And to help Prince get into her character, Jolie also got her a little toy stuffed baby elephant and a big elephant holding each other trunks. “I think it’s safe to say we became like the elephant family,” Jolie said. “We got really into our characters, us two.”
2 – Bryan Cranston Rides A Bicycle
Though Bryan Cranston may be known for his Emmy Award-winning performances on Breaking Bad, he is also known for his comedic roles in TV shows like Malcolm In The Middle. And in The One And Only Ivan, he gets a chance to flex both the comedic and dramatic muscles.
As Mac, Cranston is playing Mac, the owner, and ringmaster of the struggling Big Top Mall. While it’s clear that Mac loves his menagerie of animals as if they were family, he has to resort to abusive and humiliating behavior to keep his business afloat. Cranston saw both the flaws and strengths of his complex character, who isn’t exactly a villain, but isn’t so likable. Though he was able to express the character’s duplicitous nature, he ran into one small problem on set. The one thing he had some difficulty with is riding a tiny child-sized bicycle.
“You know, you look at a bicycle, and you go, oh, I can ride that. It’s actually much harder than it appears,” Cranston said. “I rode the bicycle. It was difficult. Um, uh, but it was fun. And I feel down several times. Because it’s slick. Your knees are basically up in your face when you’re riding. I didn’t-when I first saw the bicycle I noticed on the side of it, it said, the property of Danny DeVito. I went, oh. Ah.”
3 – Arianna Greenblatt’s Art On Display
The One and Only Ivan visualizes what it would be like if the gentle silverback gorilla with a big heart could draw. But not just draw anything, it would communicate that he wanted to be somewhere that resembled his home. Arianna Greenblatt, who plays Julia, the young daughter of George, a janitor at the Big Top Mall, would be one of the few human characters who could see the message behind Ivan’s art. And on a surprising note, some of Greenblatt’s drawings made it into the film.
“I had brakes during school I actually like drew some of the drawings,” Greenblatt said. “The Bob one, like a few that you’ll see. It’s really cool. And it was such a cool opportunity for me to put my own artistic side into the movie. And it’s something I’ll always remember too.”
4 – Green Green Grass of Home
As with all art, colors play a vital role in its expression. So director Thea Sharrock made a conscious effort to omit to use as little green as possible. “Throughout the movie, we also made the choice to have next to no green used in the movie,” Sharrock said.
Key scenes like Ivan’s flashbacks to when he was a young ape illustrated the idea of the lush green home. “When you get to either Ivan’s flashbacks from when he’s a kid, which we made as green as possible and made as like the Congo as possible, um, or the very end when he gets to where he needs to go, um, again we made that as green and as lush as possible.”
The small amounts of green weren’t just limited to the set designs, but to the costumes, as well. “But every choice up to that point with both the designer and the costume designer, we did everything to keep as much green away as possible,” Sharrock said. Although, she thought the greenery could serve as a design problem considering she is a Brit, where the exit signs are green. “I thought because I’m a Brit and then I realized this wasn’t gonna be a problem, was Exit signs that over here are green,” she said. “But I don’t think they are in America. Although there’s a nice symbolism in that, we didn’t even have to deal with that.”
5 – Run Away To Join The Circus
This quarantine has helped some find their inner artist. Whether through drawings and paintings, cooking, or botany, they have discovered a new talent they never knew they had. But for some, it has reminded them of the days where they ran off to the circus. That happened to Chaka Khan. The musician, who voices Henrietta, said the first artsy thing that came to mind during this quartine is when she ran away from home, at the age of 16, and joined a circus.
She went with the Barnum and Bailey Blue circus trope for about six to seven months. There, she met someone who would be introducing her as the circus’s rope girl. “I ran away with this guy named Robert, who was lovely,” Khan said. “I actually was a rope girl. And I rode the elephant, named Calcutta. It’s really cool. It’s great.”
6 – Funny animal voices
The One And Only Ivan also brought the Hamilton star Phillipa Soo and comedian Ron Funches to voice Thelma, a parrot circus barker, and Murphy, a rabbit who rides a toy fire truck, respectively. While the two are voice over roles, Soo and Funches had very different approaches to finding their inner animal.
I thought to myself, what do parrots do? I thought I’d look up some parrot videos. And I did,” Soo said. “And then I tried to make my squawkiest, most parroty sound in my house for everyone else to hear. I actually asked my husband, ‘I was like, does this sound parroty enough?'”
However, Funches doesn’t have much experience in voice-over roles since he’s only been acting for six years. “I don’t even know how I got on this Zoom call, really. I’m just happy to be able to see these people,” he said. “I just did my voice. And then sometimes they would tell me to change it a little bit. And then sometimes Danny [DeVito] would tell me to try different things.”
Though DeVito’s advice was somewhat aggressive, Funches considered it. Because, as he jokes, he has gotten more movie and TV roles. And because of this role, he has a better understanding of why his character loves firetruck.
The One And Only Ivan starts streaming exclusively on Augst 21, 2020.
Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.