“One and Only Ivan” Stars Explain The Heart Of The Film & Share The Scoop On Matching Elephant Onesies + More

by Sarah Scoop
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Here’s a new movie to put on your radar: “One and Only Ivan” is sure to be your family’s new favorite film. The star-studded cast of Disney+’s new movie, which premieres on August 21st, had a press conference COVID style, aka a Zoom call. Just as we expected, these stars were incredibly fun to hang out with, even virtually. The conversations between cast and crew were just like the film they created- adorable! We can’t wait for this film to finally drop on Disney+!

Stay-at-home in Hollywood

While catching up with colleagues they’ve been distant from, many of them admitted to finding new hobbies while at home. Inevitably, there were those who had made bread from scratch. Danny Devito has taken up bird watching after planting a new maple tree in his backyard. Apparently, the actor/comedian is all the rage among finches too. He can make anything funny!

“I had a tree planted in my yard…It was a maple tree, a red maple…And I decided to hang a couple of bird feeders on it. And all these little finches come…It’s gotten very, very popular… And by now there are so many birds out…I feel like it’s like a deli where I’ve got to grab a number because they’re all waiting in line.”

– Danny Devito
Bob the dog (voiced by Danny DeVito) in Disney’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, based on the award-winning book by Katherine Applegate and directed by Thea Sharrock. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Did You Know Chaka Khan Was In The Circus?

Everyone was surprised to learn that voicing Henrietta in the film reminded musician Chaka Khan of her days in the circus. It’s safe to say that everyone was impressed and a little bit jealous. Running away to the circus sounds pretty great, especially when you’re stuck at home.

“When I first ran away from home, at 16 I actually joined the circus…I met this lovely guy named Bob at a club. And he was with the circus. And he asked me to come on. And I went. And I actually was a rope girl and I rode the elephant. Doing this…this really brought back memories of the circus.”

– Chaka Khan

What can’t she do? It’s confirmed: Chaka Khan keeps getting cooler and cooler.

Murphy (voiced by Ron Funches) and Henrietta (voiced by Chaka Khan) in Disney’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, based on the award-winning book by Katherine Applegate and directed by Thea Sharrock. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Industry’s Ability To Create Empathy & Disney’s Talent For Speaking To Kids

Angelina Jolie, one of the film’s biggest names, has been getting creative when it comes to spending time with her children. She explains that she finds herself being most creative when telling them stories and finding silly ways to entertain them. She emphasized her need to parent each child uniquely and that she loves watching them grow and develop into little human beings.

Ivan (voiced by Sam Rockwell) and Bryan Cranston as Mack in Disney’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, based on the award-winning book by Katherine Applegate and directed by Thea Sharrock. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Jolie and Khan connected with the idea that watching certain media really has opened up creativity and conversations with their children and grandchildren in the past few months. Whether a Disney film or watching Avatar, kids learn and cope with emotions alongside characters they become attached two. The two women who have both found great success in this industry touched on the fact that media’s job to create empathy cannot be overstated.

“But when art gets it right, when creativity gets it right, it’s that deep place in us that then reaches that personal someone else.”

– Angelina Jolie

How Do You Film A Live-Action/Animated Movie Like “One and Only Ivan”?

As one would expect from a film as visually stunning as this one, it was a lot of work to create. The film’s director explained the complexity of making a movie that is sort of a live-action/animation hybrid. Disney definitely has a knack for this kind of film, allowing real people to exist in the same world as sentient and speaking animals.

Ivan (voiced by Sam Rockwell) in Disney’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, based on the award-winning book by Katherine Applegate and directed by Thea Sharrock. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“In terms of shooting this movie was very much like simultaneously working on two movies at the same time because of the technical aspect of it. So, on the one hand we started the whole process with the voice actor, because the animators need their voices to begin to be laid down for the animation journey to begin. So, we started with that. Then, we shot all of our live-action stuff. And then we went back in and we shot the virtual aspects of the film, which was whenever we had just the animals in a scene together.”

– Thea Sharrock

The Doodles You See In “One and Only Ivan” Are Really Drawn By The Young Actress

Ariana Greenblatt, who plays Ivan’s human friend and advocate Julia, explained her attachment to the book by Katherine . She hopes the film will inspire children her age to look after animals and their natural habitat. Look out for the drawings in the film as well, they play a significant role in the telling of this story, and some of them were actually drawn by the young actress herself!

“Yes, actually, so when I had breaks from during school I actually drew some of the drawings…It was such a cool opportunity for me to put my own art side into the movie. And it’s something I’ll always remember too.”

– Ariana Greenblatt

This film, just like the book it is based off of, has something for children and parents alike. Just like with a lot of movies that are directed towards a younger audience, there is something to be received by an older audience as well. And it might change a bit over time. “One and Only Ivan” has something for everyone and it’s definitely not a movie that families will want to miss.

Stella (voiced by Angelina Jolie) and Ruby (voiced by Brooklynn Prince) in Disney’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, based on the award-winning book by Katherine Applegate and directed by Thea Sharrock. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2020 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“I first read the book with my kids, who were nine and ten at the time…they just absolutely loved it. And they connected with it emotionally on a level that they really appreciated the journey that  these characters go on. And I knew reading it as an adult and as a parent that I was appreciating something slightly different in certain aspects.”

– Thea Sharrock

“That’s actually one of the things about the film too, it allows for conversations about how we can advocate for the proper care and treatment of the animals.”

– Grae Drake

Brooklyn, who voices the film’s adorable baby elephant Ruby, had something to say about another one of the movie’s important messages- keeping promises.

“I think it teaches us a good lesson about keeping our promises…I think that’s something very beautiful…And that is something that- a lesson that we can all take in.”

– Brooklyn Prince

Angelina Jolie & Brooklyn Prince Got Into Character By Wearing Elephant Onesies

Brooklyn and Angelina Jolie, who play a sort of mother/daughter duo in the film, often recorded for the film together. The young star got the greatest idea for the two to wear matching elephant onesies in the studio to really get into character. After some convincing, Brooklyn’s mom bought a pair of matching pajamas and sent them to the Hollywood star who was ecstatic to receive the gift.

“When I saw her at the Critic’s Choice awards I was like, hey, we should wear elephant onesies in the recording room. And I go home and I’m like mom, mama, mama, please buy me and Angie’s elephant onesies. And my mom was like, I am buying Angelina Jolie an elephant onesie to match my daughter.”

– Brooklyn Prince

“And my excitement when I got it…”

– Angelina Jolie

“And so, she put it on. And me and her have a selfie together wearing our elephant onesies. But in the end it got kind og hot. So, we just tied it around our waists.”

– Brooklyn Prince
Angelina Jolie and Brooklynn Prince behind the scenes of Disney’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN.

The adorable little actress said that Angelina also bought her a stuffed mom and baby elephant while filming.

“I think it’s safe to say we became like the elephant family… we got really into our characters, us two.”

– Angelina Jolie

“One and only Ivan” is a blast to watch and will be the perfect addition to your family’s movie night. Trust us, you’ll laugh and cry and probably need a good cuddle. This cast definitely had their fair share of fun while creating it. Katherine’s book was beautifully adapted into this film that took a lot of work and even more love to create. It will bless your screen and warm your hearts. “One and Only Ivan” comes to Disney+ on August 21st!

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN is streaming exclusively on Disney+ starting August 21st

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