Even though Mandy Moore has long been a fan of the Disney
Princesses ("When I was a little girl growing up in Orlando, I remember that -
after I first saw 'The Little Mermaid' - I would walk around the house singing
'Part of Your World,' "Ms. Moore recalled during a recent phone call. "I'd then
pester my parents, asking them 'Who sings that song better? Me or Ariel?"), she
was still initially reluctant to reprise Rapunzel for a new series that Disney
Television Animation wanted to produce.
"I mean, as 'Tangled' the movie came to a close, Rapunzel
was happily reuniting with her parents. And then with Disney's 'Tangled Ever
After' short a year or so later, we saw her getting married to Eugene," Moore
explained. "So it originally seemed -- to me, anyway -- that there just wasn't
a whole lot of story left to tell."
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
But that's where Mandy was mistaken. As Chris Sonnenburg,
(i.e., the executive producer of both "Tangled Before Ever After" -- the Disney
Channel Original Movie which premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET - and "Tangled: The
Series" - which debuts on the Disney Channel on March 24th) pitched the premise
of this proposed animated series to Ms. Moore & Zachary Levi (i.e., the
"Chuck" veteran who voiced Flynn Rider AKA Eugene Fitzherbert in that 2010 Walt
Disney Animation Studios production) back in early 2015, it quickly became
clear that there was still lots left to learn about these two characters.
"Chris put together a very compelling argument that - as
"Tangled" the movie was ending - Rapunzel & Eugene were actually in a
pretty precarious position. As a couple, they were really just getting to know
one another. Plus Rapunzel - after all those years of being trapped in that
tower - had not only just learned that Mother Gothel wasn't really her mother,
but that her real parents are royalty. Which makes her a Princess. Which means
that - someday soon - she's going to have to rule over this entire kingdom,"
"Which - given that, just a few days earlier, Rapunzel was
this artistic kid who longed for a little adventure - this was a whole lot of
change for a person to have to process all at once," Mandy continued. "Never
mind that Eugene was now having to transition from being the notorious Flynn
Rider, a guy who constantly cut corners to get what he wanted, to becoming the
boyfriend of the lost princess. Which meant that not only was Eugene now being
forced to always play it straight, always be on his best behavior, but that he
also had to figure out where he fit in at the castle," Mandy continued.
Zachary Levi & Mandy Moore this past Saturday at the premiere of Disney's "Tangled: Before Ever After." Which was held at the PaleyCenter in LA. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
"And when Chris put it like that, it really did become clear
to myself & Zach that there was a whole lot more story to tell here. A
whole lot more to learn about Rapunzel & Eugene," Moore said. "Which is why
we both decided to sign on to do 'Tangled: The Series.' "
Of course, what really helped Mandy & Zach to commit to
this Disney Television animation production was that so many of the folks
they'd previously worked with on "Tangled" the movie and Disney's "Tangled Ever
After" short had agreed to rejoin Team Rapunzel. Take - for example - Academy
Award-winner Alan Menken and Grammy Award-winner Glenn Slater.
"Alan and Glenn did such an amazing job with the score for
'Tangled' the movie, I was thrilled that they agreed to write some brand-new
songs for 'Tangled: The Series,' " Moore enthused. "The one that's featured in
'Tangled : Before Ever After,' 'The Wind in My Hair,' I particularly enjoyed
performing. Largely because it does such a great job of capturing Rapunzel's
current state of mind. In that, while she loves being out of her tower and
being reunited with her parents, what with all of her new duties &
responsibilities as princess, that castle can feel kind of confining. Which is
why Rapunzel longs for a little freedom and sings about wanting to feel the
wind in her hair."
Mind you, one of the main reasons that Rapunzel feels cooped
up in Corona is her new-found father, King Frederic (voiced authoritatively by
Clancy Brown). Frederic still feels awful that he allowed his daughter to be
stolen away in the night by Mother Gothel. Which is why - now that Rapunzel has
finally been reunited with her family - the king is really reluctant to let her
wander too far afield.
Thankfully, Queen Arianna (voiced by Julie Bowen of "Modern
Family" fame) was rather adventurous when she was younger. Which is why she's a
bit more willing than her husband to let Rapunzel roam beyond Corona's borders.
Of course, adventure comes with a cost. As Rapunzel find out
during an after-hours excursion with her tough-as-nails Lady in Waiting,
Cassandra (voiced by Broadway belter and Disney theme park vet Eden Espinosa).
These two somehow make their way to the exact spot where that magical golden
flower once grew. Only now - in place of that flower - there are all these
sharp black spikes growing up out of the ground.
Copyright Disney Enterprise, Inc. All rights reserved
So what happens to Rapunzel when she returns to the spot where
that magic golden flower once stood? It would be hair-acy on my part to reveal
much more of "Tangled: Before Ever After" 's plot. But let's just say that this
Disney Channel Original Movie does a very clever job of setting the scene /
establishing the world that this new animated series will then go on to explore.
Speaking of which: Even though "Tangled: The Series" doesn't
officially debut 'til March 24th in its usual weekly time slot (i.e., Friday
nights at 7:30 p.m. ET / PT), the Disney Channel clearly has great confidence
in this Disney Television Animation production. Otherwise why would they have -
before a single episode of this show has actually aired on the Disney Channel
-- already renewed "Tangled: The Series" for a second season?
"And what's really wild about that is that NBC just renewed
the live-action TV series that I do, 'This is Us,' for Seasons Two and Three.
Which is why I now have something that I've never had before as actress: job
security," Mandy laughed. "We just wrapped production of this season of 'This
is Us' two weeks ago. I now have four-and-a-half months. Which is why I was
thinking that I might begin working on some songs for a new album."
Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia from the "This is Us" pilot.Copyright NBCUniversal. All rights reserved
FYI: There's actually some connective tissue between
"Tangled" the movie and "This is Us." Dan Fogelman - the creator of this
acclaimed television series (which - even though it's only been on the air for
six months now - has already been honored with a People's Choice & a
Critics Choice Television Award) - wrote the screenplay for that 2010 Walt
Disney Animation Studios production.
"So thanks to Dan, I wound up with two great characters to
play. Both of which allow me to sing," Moore remarked. "Which really brings
things full circle. Back to when I was a little girl singing those 'Little
Mermaid' songs for my parents. That's how my career in entertainment really got
And speaking of Disney Princesses ... Does Mandy ever let her
younger fans in on the secret that she's the performer who voices Rapunzel.
Mandy Moore poses with the Disney theme park walk-around version of Rapunzelduring a recent trip to WDW's Magic Kingdom. Copyright DisneyEnterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
"I learned the hard way that - when you tell kids that
you're the voice of Rapunzel - it just confuses them. They first look at you
and then kind of *** their heads to the side, as if they're wondering where
that 70 feet of blonde hair is," Moore explained. "The follow-up question that
they then typically ask is 'What? You know Rapunzel?' And then when I answer
'No, I AM her' ... Well, it just leads to further confusion."
"That's why - though I'm obviously honored to be part of the
Disney family and flattered that the Company keeps coming back to me and asking
me to voice Rapunzel - I've learned to get satisfaction out of other aspects of
this role. That's why - when I go to a Disney theme park and see Rapunzel's
tower or watch that character go by in a parade - I have this odd sense of
entitlement." Mandy concluded. "By that I mean: I was part of the team that
originally helped bring that character to life. Which is why it's kind of weird
now to see that Rapunzel has a life of her own. That she's starring in Disney
On Ice. Or that her likeness is on backpacks & trapper keepers or in video
games. It's just endless. But also cool. And kind of an honor."
This article was originally published by the Huffington Post on Friday, March 10, 2017