Interview With Ross Venokur – Director Charming (film)

1) How the idea for the movie came about? What can you say about “Charming” that is different from any other traditional fairy tale movie out there?

I have three daughters, so I have spent years and years reading them bedtime stories. Somewhere along the way, it occurred to me that, “Hey, Cinderella marries Prince Charming, and Sleeping Beauty marries Prince Charming, and Snow White marries Prince Charming… It’s the same dude!” And the story grew out of there.

2) We know at this point that the cast includes Avril Lavigne, Ashley Tisdale, Demi Lovato and G.E.M. What made you bring these four singers to this animated film?

Luck, and Wilmer Valderama! As Exec Producer of the film, Wilmer has done an insane job of getting some of the most talented people in entertainment psyched to rally around the project. I mean, could you ask for a better cast for a project like this?! Unbelievably, all of these crazy talented women were our first choices for the roles, and they all said yes. So then we were left with the question of… who could hold his own with this group and step up and be our Prince? Wilmer was assembling a list of great names to approach, but having worked with him through the initial phases of putting the film together, I knew we’d never find anyone as charming as him. So I asked Wilmer if he’d be our Prince, and he said “hell yeah!”

 3) How did you meet Avril Lavigne? Where you already familiar with her music and what was your first impression when you met her?

As a resident of planet Earth, I was of course very familiar with Avril’s music. The first time we met was when she showed up to record her lines. One of the amazing parts of my job is that I get to meet so many iconic people in our culture, and I’m definitely supposed to play it cool when I do. But I’ve never actually been very good at playing it cool. So I was just amazingly excited to meet her, and I didn’t even attempt to cover it up. My biggest take away from working with Avril is that she is a total pro. She came to do the job and to do it well. She has natural comedy chops, and she was super easy to work with.

 4) How did you decide she would be the perfect fit for this role?

If I’m not mistaken, I think the person who first suggested her was Demi. Maybe it was Wilmer. I can’t remember. All I remember is thinking, “YES! DEFINITELY! PLEASE MAKE IT HAPPEN!”

 5) Avril Lavigne will lend her voice to the character Snow White. Are we gonna see a little bit of AvrilÕs personality in this character somehow?

The three iconic princesses (Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty) fit into the story in a very specific way, so I needed each to behave a certain way to suit the story. What definitely does come through of Avril in her version of Snow White is Avril’s natural comedic abilities.

 6) How was the process of selecting which character would play which princess? Was it independently selected character by character or the roles were assigned after that part of the cast was complete?

It was pretty straight forward actually. We identified who we wanted for each part, and we went to them and asked if they would join the case. Like I said, Wilmer was the crucial link in this process. But from the get go, Avril was psyched about being Snow White.

7) Demi Lovato will play Lerone, which is the true match for Prince Charming, that will be played by Wilmer Valderrama. Do you think the fact that theyÕre together in real life makes the bonding between the characters more special?

I think the characters stand on their own, and their journey in the movie is unique and exciting. Having said that, there is definitely an additional layer of fun and excitement because we know it’s Demi and Wilmer voicing those characters. Though you traditionally record actors for animation separately, we have thrown Demi and Wilmer into the booth together once or twice, and it definitely heightens the intensity of the chemistry. At the end of the day, they’re both just so talented and so funny, so putting them together in the booth is just the icing on the cake.

8) How us the recording sessions going? Any funny facts or stories you can share with us so far?

The recording sessions are nearly complete. We still have final records and some pick ups ahead of us. Everyone in the cast (Avril, Demi, Ashley, GEM, Wilmer, Sia, John Cleese, Tara Strong, Jim Cummings, Dee Bradley Baker…) has brought his/her A-game, and everyone has brought his/her own sensibility to the parts. So the script and story have definitely evolved during the records. It has been a real friends and family affair from the start. In fact, we had a pretty fun “sisters” day a few months back, where we brought in Demi’s sisters and Wilmer’s sister and one of the associate producer’s sister and had them each record a line or two for some of the smaller characters.

9) Is there a possibility for a sequel?

There’s definitely a possibility, and we talk about it often. I think it’s going to come down to finding the right story line and waiting to see if an audience embraces our story as much as we are hoping it will.

10) Have you ever had the chance to visit our country? Are you familiar with anything Brazilian?

I have never visited Brazil, I am sad to say. But I’ll make it there one day!

11) We know itÕs a bit early in the process, but all these singers have a big fanbase in Brazil. So we just wanna throw it out thereÉ Any chance we can have a Brazilian premiere of the movie with all the princesses?

I would love that. And if we do… we’ll make that my first trip to Brazil!

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