Meet Cristela Alonzo’s character Cruz from Disney•Pixar’s Cars 3
In Disney•Pixar‘s Cars 3, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is competing with much newer, younger cars with better technology and training techniques. After a devastating crash while competing against Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer), McQueen is down in the dumps. He calls on some old friends to help him recover and get back into fighting form. His good buddies, the Rust-eze guys, have sold their business to help McQueen get up to speed and compete. The company has been taken over by a car named Sterling (Nathan Fillion). This very wealthy car would love to make some cash off McQueen, and if the new training techniques fail to produce results, to use his image to market products. To do this, he has young racing trainer named Cruz (Cristela Alonzo) put McQueen through his paces on some crazy machinery. She’s a great trainer, but she’s never raced herself. She’s also a big fan of McQueen’s. Cristela Alonzo voices a character who’s got a lot to learn from her idol, but one who has a lot to teach him as well. We got a chance to attend an early press event at Pixar and the Sonoma Raceway, where we learned all about Cruz. Let us introduce you to the newest Cars character.
First, here is the official info for Cars 3: “Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez, with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage!”
We spoke to director Brain Fee, who told us that the character was originally male. “We’re very proud of her,” Fee said. “Where she came from and what we ended up with, the journey to create her, because she was probably the hardest character to figure out… She was male for no reason, really. It was just a male character. We started off with a completely different version of the movie, as many of our movies do. The mentorship was always there. It was always something we wanted to tell, but it was a whole different story… Cruz was just somebody he met along the journey. The story changed and the character’s place in the film started to lock. What is McQueen’s story and how is Cruz helping us tell that story? There was a moment where many things were afoot. It all kind of bubbled up together. We realized that it should just be a girl. It will make a much richer story. There is just so much more there. First of all, you don’t see it coming as much. The automotive world is male-dominated, right? We’re aware of that at Pixar. The animation industry is male-dominated. It’s changing. It’s changing every year and that’s wonderful. The tech industry is male-dominated. The tech industry has been trying to deal with that. Nobody wants that. So racing has been male-dominated, so to make her feel like an outsider, it just felt like the right thing to do.”
When we first meet Cruz, she’s a super spunky trainer, so excited to get a chance to work with McQueen. She jokes about his age, but in a way that makes you really think she not only wants to help him, but that she really believes her new methods are better than his old ones. However, we learn quickly that though new techniques work better with some cars, McQueen’s way of doing things isn’t wrong for him. Cruz is eager to learn and is more than willing to set out on an adventure with him.
We also got to see a scene where Cruz and McQueen head out on the road together to train off the equipment (an example of which you can see above.) Cruz gets some recognition, and after McQueen dismisses her accomplishments, she gives a great speech about how she always wanted to race, but never took the plunge. She didn’t do it because she was different than the other cars. Producer Kevin Reher and co-producer Andrea Warren told us that this was important to them, and casting Cristela Alonzo was perfect. Warren said, “I think our biggest goal was to make an authentic, relatable character. I think that there are these elements of her story that probably a lot of women and girls, or really, anyone who has ever felt out of place can relate to; the challenge of overcoming what it feels like to be the only one… I think that was a really compelling part of her story, and an authentic thing. When you think of what holds somebody back, there’s the element of being told that you can’t do something, but there’s also a different element that’s about you. Overcoming being the only one or being a pioneer. That was part of Cristela Alonzo’s story too.”
Reher continued, “She had been told, yeah, we clean motels and we cut hair by her family.” Warren added, “They were her family and they were just trying to protect her, not to be mean to her… that was just the expectations… she [Cruz] has to overcome herself and her own beliefs about herself. She conquers her own fears of what it feels like not to fit in, and does something about it.”
Cars 3 is directed by Fee (storyboard artist for Cars and Cars 2) and produced by Reher (A Bug’s Life, La Luna short). The film will race into theaters on June 16, 2017. The first Cars, directed by John Lasseter, earned $461.9 million worldwide in 2006, and Cars 2 topped that with $559.8 million globally in 2011.
Are you guys excited for Cars 3? What do you think of Cristela Alonzo’s character Cruz? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or tweet us @ComingSoonnet!