Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.
Courtney Howard // Film Critic
Typically when actors sign on to record their voices for animated films, they’ll travel to a non-descript, professional recording studio that’s local to them. This was always supposed to be the plan for the LUCA ensemble until a world-wide pandemic drastically changed that time-honored process. But instead of postponing or letting that derail the project, the creative, ingenious minds at Pixar thought out a new strategy to get the work done. And this included recording some of the actors in some very unconventional spaces.
At the film’s recent virtual press day, producer Andrea Warren explained,
“When the pandemic hit and we were all sort of realizing that we had to work from home, one of my biggest concerns was how are we gonna record everybody. I really have to thank this group and everybody at Pixar who sorted it out. It involved sending iPads and microphones, and everybody testing out spaces in their houses where the sound would be baffled.”
She was particularly impressed with Jack Dylan Grazer’s space.
“I’ll never forget Jack in [his] mom’s closet – [his] arms hitting the hangers, and we’re all trying to press the right buttons at the right time. It’s tricky to be acting and be your own tech and [have] all of us trying to sort it out. And even Zoom is tricky ’cause sometimes it cuts out and somebody’s just performed something, and you’re like, well I bet it’s good. I don’t know. Everybody was such good sports.”
The affable actor responded,
“Being in my mom’s closet for a year was definitely a stretch for me – a challenge for me as an actor and as a human being. It got hot in there. I bet my neighbors were really freaked out about the amount of screaming that was going on from my house. I don’t know what they were thinking. I was screaming like, “Help,” and I don’t know. It was definitely a testament.”
In the family-friendly feature, Grazer plays “Alberto,” the gregarious 12-year-old sea monster who morphs into a human boy when he’s on land. Though he’s the exact opposite of the titular character, the pair form a strong friendship as they venture round a nearby, small coastal town on the Italian Riviera. He thinks the dynamic duo are connected through at least one common through line.
“The aspect of curiosity [applies] across both of them. Alberto definitely has got no restrictions. He’s so eager and yearning to explore and fulfill all these fantasies and curiosities that he has. He’s a huge part in inspiring, uh, Luca to go to Porto Rosso.”
Alberto also teaches Luca to shut down the troublesome inner-voice that causes many of his fears and anxieties by telling himself, “Silencio, Bruno.” Grazer mentioned he related to his character’s headstrong, positive gumption.
“It’s one of the most crucial things you could ever learn in your life. 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. There’s 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 terrible decision, but I’m hoping for wonderful.”
Director Enrico Casarosa, speaking at a long lead press day, said that this concept was birthed by writer Jesse Andrews.
“One of my favorite things in the movie talks about the voice in your head. I have plenty of it, I don’t know if you guys have it – the insecurity, the voices that tell you, ‘No, you can’t.’ And we thought, ‘But what’s an Alberto way of describing it?’ We didn’t want this to be, you know, in any way, pop psychology. This is a silly kid, but how can he give him a good suggestion?”
He admitted it’s good advice for all ages.
“It’s actually a good tip – don’t pay too much attention to those voices.”
“I really hope it’s something that kids, as they watch this movie, glom onto as a concept as they grow up. How great would it be for them to recognize that voice in their head and question it as they’re making decisions and deciding whether to take risks in their own lives as they’re growing up? We do hope it’s something that becomes meaningful to our audience.”
LUCA will stream exclusively on Disney+ (at no extra charge) starting June 18th.