Disney•Pixar’s “Luca” is a coming of age film where two sea creatures walk amongst the surface dwellers to enjoy everything that a small-town Italian Rivera has to offer. And that’s plenty of delicious food, gelato, and, of course, Vespas. These are the friendships that not only test your courage but also help build our self-confidence and are a positive developmental influence.
ThatsItLA had a chance to join their fellow journalists for the virtual press conference for “Luca,” which is set to make its debut exclusively on Disney+. There, Maya Rudolph and Jim Gaffigan, who voice Luca’s mother and father, respectively, Jacob Tremblay (Luca), Jack Dylan Grazer (Alberto), and Emma Berman (Guilia) talked about their characters and how they shared their personalities.
“When you get to meet him at the beginning of the movie, Luca’s a bit more of a timid kid,” Tremblay said. “He really wants to be able to explore the-the human world, but his parents have a lot of restrictions for him. But he meets his great friend Alberto who helps him kind of step out of his comfort zone.”
Part of what drives him to explore the surface world is curiosity and seeing why his parents made it off-limits. But Tremblay says these restrictions were in place to keep Luca safe from harm from a world that doesn’t understand him or anyone who looks like him.
However, simple trinkets from the surface further Luca’s curiosity to explore the unknown world. But that proves to be a challenge for the titular character since his parents forbid him from surfacing. That’s where Alberto comes in to help find Luca’s courage.
“He’s so eager and so yearning to explore and fulfill all these fantasies and curiosities that he has,” Grazer said. “I think that he’s a huge part in inspiring Luca to go to Portorosso to get the Vespa.”
And Alberto’s mantra, “Silencio Bruno,” is one of the contributing influences that help Luca find the courage to get over some of those fears. Not only that, but it is also something that Grazer lives by. “I think it’s one of the most crucial things you could ever learn in your life,” he said. “It’s the elimination of doubt. I got rid of my Bruno eons ago. I haven’t had a Bruno for years. I myself have always been a really impulsive decision-maker. I don’t like to think about the two ways that things could go. There’s it’s terrible, or it could be wonderful. And I choose not to think long enough about the thing to think about how terrible it could be. And it might end up being a terrible decision, but I’m hoping for wonderful.”
For Berman, who’s an experienced voice actress at a young age, the role of Guilia is a dream come true because it is her first movie role, and it’s for a Pixar film. But what drew Berman to the role was how much she saw herself in her. “She’s a very strong character. She’s determined, and she’s hardworking, and genuine, and intense,” Berman said. “But she’s also awkward, and quirky, and goofy. And I had a really fun time playing her because I relate to her in a lot of ways. That we’re both passionate about what we do, and we’re also very excited and joyful people.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a coming-of-age film without the role of the influential parent. Rudolph said of her endearing yet overprotective mother character Daniela. “She’s a very serious mom. She’s not messing around, and that, to me, instantly in this movie’s case, just equals love,” she said. “That protection, that strong-that-that strong discipline is love and wanting to raise her family right.”
There may not be one single way to parent a child, but for Daniela, she wants what’s best for Luca, and that means there’s a certain way to do things and believe that it is the correct way. “What you come to learn about her is that she also is really protecting him from what she already knows to be dangerous in the world,” Rudolph said. “You know, just like any parent, she’s fierce protector, which some might say is tough love. But I think she gets all the passes. Because you know she loves her son. There’s no question.”
That unquestionable love a parent has for their child shines in Daniela. And every parent knows that their child will eventually have to go out into the unknown one day. But that doesn’t stop them from that fact. That drive to protect children at all costs is not only embedded in the very DNA of every parent, and it also comes from a place of love. “It’s just a matter of ‘You listen to your mama, and you do what you’re supposed to do.’ And I think deep down, she knows her son is going to probably going to explore,” she said. “But she’s just trying to protect him because, I mean, it’s the scariest thing in the world to let your babies run out in the world and explore. And even though you know they need to, it’s terrifying, you know?”
Gaffigan, who is a father to five, sees Lorenzo as a “well-intended detached parent” who is “overwhelmed.” “I think that most parenting partnerships, it’s a-a negotiation on how to raise a child,” he said. “But the fun of Lorenzo is the navigating the partnership with his wife in raising Luca and-and him finding the right path.”
Disney•Pixar’s “Luca” debuts exclusively on Disney+, at no extra cost, on June 18, 2021.