In Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, Anna and Elsa are celebrating the end of the year holiday for the first time since the events of Frozen. However, they are not sure how to celebrate because they don’t have any family traditions to call their own. Seeing that they are in a bit of a crisis, Olaf takes it upon himself to find a tradition by asking the people of Arendelle what their traditions are. However, he will soon discover that the greatest tradition of them all is closer than he thinks.
The 22-minute short features four new songs written by Kate Anderson and Elyssa Samsel, and is directed by Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers. We had a chance to speak to the creative minds behind the short, as well as Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf.
Gad said he celebrates two holidays in his household: Hanukah and Christmas. However, there is one personal tradition that he always looks forward to. And that is writing a letter to his two daughters. “My favorite tradition is on Christmas Eve, I write a letter to my daughters,” said Gad. “Sharing that tradition with them and having them wake on Christmas morning, and seeing them open their Christmas gifts from mommy and daddy and Santa Claus is my favorite thing. To see that pure joy opening those gifts and what awaits them is such a treasure.”
If there is one thing that Gad finds difficult about voicing and singing as Olaf, it’s the fact that he has to sing in his voice when they write the music as high as they do. “It’s difficult when they write it as high as they keep writing it,” Gad said. “Bobby Lopez, who wrote Book of Mormon, which I did with him, he would always write it an octave higher than that I deserved to sing it, and he carried that tradition over to Frozen. So when the brilliant songwriters Kate and Elyssa did this, I was like ‘Oh great, they’ve been speaking to Bobby and Kris.’”
The actor admits that it is hard, and he jokingly preferred to sing it with much deeper velvety voice than the one you will hear in the short. But since that isn’t Olaf, Gad has to do it in the high cheery voice. “It’s tricky get back into that mode, and keep the voice bright and Olafy while he’s singing the song like In The Summer or this brilliant song,” Gad said.
While Olaf is a loveable and very endearing cut sentiment snowman, it has come to a point where he is just a little bit annoying, particularly to Gad’s own kids. “My kids say ‘stop speaking as Olaf,” Gad said. While he joked he didn’t create a distinct enough voice, he says voicing him is a thrill. “It’s a thrill to come back. It’s a thrill to work with such a brilliant new team, who are taking this character and opening new doors for him to go,” Gad said. “The first movie is so much about Olaf discovering. Olaf is like a newborn waking up. And so as we continue to tell these stories, what is fun as an artist is that we get to have Olaf in a place where he is learning and growing, emotionally and educationally.” Gad says he loves that he gets to be a part of Olaf’s growth.
As much as Gad’s kids don’t want him to speak in Olaf’s voice, they are tickled by the fact that he is Olaf. “I read them Frozen books, and it is a very surreal for them, I’m sure, to have Olaf reading Olaf. I’m sitting there, before both the short and the sequel, I always go back to the original movie to recalibrate my brain to that,” Gad said. But he is always thrilled to come back because he is a part of something truly special. “It’s a thrill to come back. It’s a thrill to work with such a brilliant new team, who are taking this character and opening new doors for him to go,” Gad said. “The first movie is so much about Olaf discovering. Olaf is like a newborn waking up. And so as we continue to tell these stories, what is fun as an artist is that we get to have Olaf in a place where he is learning and growing, emotionally and educationally.”
And it is being a part of Disney history that he is exceptionally proud of, especially when he joins iconic voice actors who helped bring their respective animated films to life. “I never take for granted that this is the magic hour that I am living right now.” Gad gave a quick nod to the late Robert Guillaume, who voiced the original Rafiki in the animated The Lion King, as an inspiration to what he does now. “To give life to these characters. To give something like ‘Asante Sana Squash banana’ that lives on in another generation, my kids are watching that. Or the late Robin Williams as the Genie, being a part of that tradition, is the coolest gift that I have ever been given as a performer.”
As for what audiences should take out after watching Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, Gad said “I would love – it’s funny because these holidays are so wonderfully rich with memories. For me growing up, the memories that I have, holidays, in general, have really become commercialized. There’s a lot about the holidays that are driven by ‘we got to go shopping, we got to do this, we got to do that.’ This movie is an emotional reminder about the bond of family, and this one moment out of every year we sorta can’t go anywhere because everything is closed, and we are all in a room together, and we all have none of this [mimics texting and looking at a phone] going on, but this [gesturing family coming together], that to me is the power of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. It is about traditions, but more than that, it is about family. And I love that. I hope that my girls when they see this movie, they start to think about the traditions they want to make with each other.”
Olaf’s FROZEN Adventure opens in front of COCO on November 22!