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Exclusive Interview with Benjamin Bratt (Voice of “Ernesto de la Cruz” in Pixar’s Coco #PixarCocoEvent @PixarCoco

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I was invited by Disney to attend the #PixarCocoEvent. Although all of my expenses were paid, all opinions are my own. 

Pixar’s newest movie, Coco, hits theaters in the US on November 22nd and I highly recommend you seeing it. In fact, check out my spoiler-free movie review HERE. While I was in Los Angeles for this movie premiere, I had the exclusive opportunity to sit down with some of the voice cast as well as the people behind the scenes. Up first, I want to share our interview with Benjamin Bratt who voices “Ernesto de la Cruz” in Coco.

COCO (Pictured) – IDOL CHATTER – In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” aspiring musician Miguel journeys through the Land of the Dead in search of his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz. Miguel meets the popular performer at Ernesto’s annual Día de Muertos party. Featuring Anthony Gonzalez as the voice of Miguel, and Benjamin Bratt as the voice of Ernesto de la Cruz, “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Benjamin was SO warm and so grateful to have the time to sit down with us. We were thankful that he took the time to chat with us about his role in the movie and how it affects him. When he arrived at our interview, the first thing he said was, “I feel so good today because I went to the premiere last night!” We all agreed because it was simply amazing. Check out my experience HERE. Benjamin went on to share a little about his history:

“I’ve been around the block a little bit and that was probably the most spectacular, most heartwarming, most fun premier I’ve ever been to. I mean where else can you be greeted by a mariachi band and dancers and the whole thing was a celebration from start to finish? I was rocked, dude, by the end. Were you?

We all agreed that the premiere was certainly a unique and fun one. I keep looking back through my pictures and remembering the amount of fun I had at the premiere. We went on to chat with Benjamin about his time at the premiere and experience in the movie.

Photo Credit: MamaLatinaTips.com

Interview with Benjamin Bratt (Voice of “Ernesto de la Cruz”

Q: What surprised you most?

Well, I hadn’t seen the film in its complete form yet. There was a lot about it that affected me but I think I was most struck by the beauty of the artistry. It’s such a beautiful film to look at. Then, when you add that technical expertise to the emotional depth of the film and what it delivers at the end, there’s no other word for it but powerful. It was a really powerful result.

Q: Was there a moment that made you cry? What was the first scene that made you get choked up?

A moment? There were a handful of moments. One of my favorite scenes in the movie, and this scene was completed when I saw it was the scene where Eddie Olmos plays Chicharron, where it really spells out what it is to finally die, the final death. When I first saw the film, it was about 2/3 animated so a lot of what happens at the end were basically sketches and stick figures but it still was packed with emotional wallop. It’s expository but it just punches you right in the heart because you realize that if we don’t stay connected to where we come from, we don’t remember our antepasados, the people who came before us. It’s probably not a good place because you are not supported by people in the land of the living.

NAME THAT TUNE – In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” Miguel’s love of music ultimately leads him to the Land of the Dead where he teams up with charming trickster Hector. “Coco” features an original score from Oscar®-winning composer Michael Giacchino, the original song “Remember Me” by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, and additional songs co-written by Germaine Franco and co-director/screenwriter Adrian Molina. Also part of the team is musical consultant Camilo Lara of the music project Mexican Institute of Sound. In theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. © 2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Q: When you signed on, did you know the complete storyline?

That’s a great question because it was probably two thirds through the movie before I remembered what it is that my character does in the end. I don’t want to spoil anything but we all know what happens and I was kind of, wait a second! Oh, that’s right…. that’s what I signed on for. In a way, I was, struck by the courage of a film group or a group of artisans like Pixar to actually explore those darker themes.

SPECTACULAR ENCOUNTER – In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” aspiring musician Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) takes an extraordinary journey through the Land of the Dead in search of his idol. He finds that Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt) just might be an even bigger star than he was in the Land of the Living. Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. Tickets are on sale now at Fandango and Atom. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Q: There’s always a dark element?

There’s always this dark element, which probably comes from fables that were designed and written to warn children of the dangers that lurk in darker places. So, we’re still working in those themes but what I am most excited about with Coco is that its finally an opportunity, on a global scale, to illuminate the beauty of the Latino Culture. Way back when, when I was first given a tour of Pixar Studios in Emeryville, Lee, Darla and Adrian led me into this room that, from floor to ceiling on every wall, was covered in Mexican iconography, Day of the Dead colors, and images and some of the characters that were drawn, illustrated that they were going to put into the film. That affected me and actually kind of surprised me because it was in that moment that I recognized these beautiful brown faces albeit they’re animated figures. They looked like people I know, the people I can from. It underscored the fact that this portrayal hasn’t been done yet on this kind of scale. In a way, it reintroduces who we are as people in our uniqueness but also in our sameness to everyone else in the world whether you’re from China or Africa or Europe or anywhere else in the world. That at the end of the day, for all the uniqueness that we have, and there’s a lot that’s vibrant and authentic and beautiful about Latino culture, we all at the end of the day are more alike than we are different and this need or sense of wanting to belong to something, to recognize where you come from, to stay connected to the people that paved a path for you before you got here.

Q: In your character, I saw or I recognized a lot of the powerful, macho novella lead. Did you draw from anyone in particular?

A lot of Pedro Infante and Vicente Fernandez. I had never seen a film with Pedro Infante or Jorge Negrete. I was loosely aware of the Vicente Fernandez’s music. But after Lee and Adrian shared with me that those are the people in real life that they were drawing on for this character I went out to YouTube, of course, and studied a lot of it. And what I realized was that, there’s real star power. They were like the Mexican versions of Frank Sinatra. Someone who is as adored for his musical ability as he was for his movie star magnetism. That doesn’t happen to everyone. Not everyone possesses that set of talent or that particular personal chemistry. So, you know, you have to create it. I just thought okay, I’ll just try to be larger-than-life. It’s an even more difficult trick to do it just vocally, you know. Thank God, they draw the guy. That’s a good-looking skeleton. His hair was perfect.

Photo Credit: MamaLatinaTips.com

Q: When you have gone by, what do you want people to remember a characteristic about you?

That’s such a profound question and the first time anyone’s asked it. If I am to be remembered at all I would hope it would be for, for my kindness or my generosity, for the love that lives in my heart for people that I hold near and dear. Also, for someone who tried to live his life with integrity. Nothing too deep. Oh, and he’s pretty fun, too. He was a fun guy.

Photo Credit: MamaLatinaTips.com

Q: Talking about death with children can be very difficult, actually, talking about death in general. Do you feel this movie will actually empower parents to approach the subject from a different viewpoint with their children?

I hope so and actually think so. I think people give short shrift to the impact and power of film stories. They really can do a lot to teach young people, whether you want them to or not. This story views death as a kind of celebration, as a continuation really of what we are and who we are. That it’s not something to be feared but something to realize that it’s part of the natural cycle of life and that you can in fact stay connected to the people that you love. I think there’s a hopefulness in that and a kind of comfort, too, I would say. I already know that and I already feel that and I already believe that as do most of my family members. But seeing the film reminded me last night as my mother now enters into a certain set of years in her life (she would hate for me to name it) that as we edged closer to our moment of mortality that there will be a kind of comfort in knowing that we can stay connected through prayer, through memory, through acknowledgment, through, even through ofrendas. So, my hope is that, is that children will see it as a reminder of what already exists, which is just the next step in this cycle of life. Y’all are getting deep today.

Photo Credit: MamaLatinaTips.com

Q: What are your first memories of celebrating The Day of the Dead?

My family doesn’t necessarily celebrate Day of the Dead. It’s not unique to Mexican culture but Dia de los Muertos is principally a Mexican celebration that has its roots in indigenous culture. My mother’s from Peru. So, that’s not a traditional celebration in Peru or necessarily in other Latin American countries. However, it is now very much a part of Mexican-American culture and you see the iconography all over the place. So, what you’ll find with various forms of worship or celebration or religion is that people kind of cross colonize. I have family members who acknowledge the power in the beauty, really, of creating an altar and providing that altar with offerings to those who have passed on. I think it’s a beautiful gesture whether it manifests itself and anything real or not, that’s up to the person that’s doing it. If it makes you feel good and if you believe it makes the person that you’re providing those offerings to feel good, that’s a beautiful thing.

Photo Credit: MamaLatinaTips.com

Q: What other traditions have you had at home and did any of them in some way showing the movie even though it wasn’t necessarily from your culture?

Well, the funny thing is, I think the general population takes the mistake of seeing Latino culture as monolithic and we’re not. That said, there is connective tissue there that really makes us understand one another, whether Mexicano, or Peruano or Colombiano, and part of that is the language of course. Part of that is the religion. Very much a part of that is the history of colonization that took place where you mix the indigenous blood with Spanish blood creating a Mestizos race. But a lot of it is easier to identify and relate to. That’s this notion of family and the importance of staying connected and family first and the little dichos (means “sayings”) that are shared in the kitchen and the importance of food. How there’s a celebration of food for everything, really, the presence and the threat of the chancleta. Any Latino who grew up with an Abuela, who has a mother of a certain age, you know what the chapeleta means. These are the things that are, for any audience member, easy to identify with but probably hold a special significance and a bit of a wink for Latinos in particular.

Q: In the movie, you have the “Seize the Moment” phrase that evolves around you. You are the origin of that. What does that phrase mean for you in real life or do you actually reflect your life through the seize the moment?

Seize the moment I interpret as a call to action. I’m a little more pensive before I make a decision and I think I’ve gotten more cautious as I’ve gotten older. But what I can relate to is, and it’s always held particular importance for me, but it is the most important thing in my life right now and that’s my family, my immediate family, my relationship with my wife and my two children, my daughter Sophia and my son Matteo. They take precedence over all else, even at work, and that’s how I self-identify. If someone says what are you, I don’t even start with man. I say I’m a husband, I’m a father first. With that kind of clarity, you can really take on any challenge that’s presented to you. But as far as seize the moment goes, you know, if you ask me to jump off a 50-foot cliff I might have done that when I was 25. But now I’ll take a pause and, do I do this with my shoes on my shoes off?   Do I wear a life jacket? We want to do it with me? We’ll hold hands or should I go solo?

HIDDEN TALENT — In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez), who struggles against his family’s generations-old ban on music, creates a secret space where he can play his guitar and soak up the on-screen talent of his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”), Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Q: A lot of us saw you at D23 and didn’t know you could sing. Where did you get those pipes?

Yo, I didn’t know I could sing! Here’s the deal….. you know, I acknowledge that I’m a fairly decent actor but I’ve always wanted to be a singer. I just admire singers so much and musicians in general because with singing, your voice is your instrument. It translates across all language, all cultures because a beautiful voice is a beautiful voice. I don’t possess one when it comes to singing and I’ve always said I’d give my left big toe to be able to be a balladeer like Mark Anthony. He’s just a phenomenal, powerful singer and a friend but someone whose talent I admire immensely. So, when I was offered the role, I thought it was a bit ironic that I was meant to play the most, you know, famous singer and musician in Mexican history. I had a little chuckle for myself. Then, of course, I became immediately terrified because Lee and Darla and Adrian wanted me to attempt it. They provided me with Liz Kaplan who’s the instructor, mentor to the stars in a New York. I had several sessions with her. They just gave me the opportunity to fail. The first few sessions were really horrible. But, you know, they gave me a shot. I was happy to do it. And that it’s in the movie, I recorded every song, you know, that it’s in the movie, I’m really proud of it.

Photo Credit: MamaLatinaTips.com

Q: What’s the biggest lesson you would like to pass on to your children?

To have compassion, to be empathetic, to recognize that wherever you come from, whatever your gender is, whatever your sexual orientation, whatever your religion is, lead with kindness, lead with empathy and lead with love.

Wow, what an interview, right?! Benjamin Bratt was such a pleasure to talk to. He was so calm and well spoken that took all of us aback!

About Pixar’s Coco

Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Héctor (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.


Check out my spoiler-free movie review HERE.


NEW Pixar Coco Trailer + Pan de Muerto & Hot Chocolate Recipes 

Disney•Pixar COCO Activity Sheets + Coloring Pages! 

NEW Trailer + Poster for Disney • Pixar’s Coco

Pixar Coco Premiere Marigold Carpet Experience!

ON COURSE TO CURSED – When aspiring musician Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) ends up in the Land of the Dead in Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” his family takes him to the Department of Family Reunions where a busy clerk (voice of Gabriel Iglesias) informs him that he’s cursed. To return to the Land of the Living, Miguel will need a magical marigold petal and the blessing of a family member—but, according to the clerk, the family member can include any condition she likes—even forbidding music forever. Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”), Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.


Like COCO on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PixarCoco

Follow COCO on Twitter: https://twitter.com/pixarcoco

Follow COCO on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pixarcoco/

Visit the official COCO website here: http://movies.disney.com/coco


MAGIC – When aspiring musician Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) finds himself in the Land of the Dead, all he needs to return to the Land of the Living is a blessing from a family member, a magical marigold petal and a promise he’s not sure he can make. Directed by Lee Unkrich, co-directed by Adrian Molina and produced by Darla K. Anderson, Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

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Cynthia R

Friday 17th of November 2017

Oh Benjamin I've missed him since the Law & Order Days! This looks like such a cute movie!

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