Directors Ron Clements and John Musker are themselvesÂ Moana Easter Eggs! Can you find them in the film?
Walt Disney Animation StudiosâÂ latest adventure is now in theaters and CS is thrilled to present our exclusive conversation with directors Ron Clements and John Musker. Well known to Disney fans as âRon and John,â the creative pair have been directing Disney animated features for decades, beginning with The Great Mouse DetectiveÂ and continuing with The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet and The Princess and the Frog. Based on reviews, theyâve got another hit inÂ Moana and, in the below interview, Ron and John share some of the hidden Moana Easter eggs you should look out for when you catch the film in theaters. Read on for the full interview, which also takes a look at Moanaâs unique music and even teases a scene from Wreck-It Ralph 2!
Boasting original music by HamiltonâsÂ Lin-Manuel MirandaÂ alongsideÂ Opetaia Foaâi, and Mark Mancina, Moana follows newcomerÂ Auliâi CravalhoÂ as Moana, anÂ adventurous teenager who risks everything to sail out on a daring mission to save her people. It is on the South Pacific seas that MoanaÂ meets the once-mighty demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing sheâs always sought: her own identity.
CS: My first question is, how quickly do the songs stop playing over and over in my head?
Ron Clements: (Laughs) When youâve done a few musicals like we have, you come to realize that itâs not a question of when but of which song will be playing. When you wake up in the morning, which one is it going to be? Thereâs no real rule about it. It can be any one.
John Musker: But when it comes to that combination of Lin and Opetaia,Â thereâs something extra catchy about it.
Ron Clements: Weâve heard the songs so many times, though, and theyâre still just as great.
CS: It is particularly weird to have a song playingÂ my head where Iâm not even sure what the words necessarily mean.
John Musker:Â We were really influenced by âThe Lion King.â Early on, we knew we wanted to have music that, even if they lyrics are in a different language, the song still has that feeling. I listened to a ton of music from the islands and I didnât know what the lyrics meant either until we started doing the movie. It was so powerful, the harmonies, and the mental picture that it creates. Itâs not even a literal picture. Itâs more a feeling and thatâs what we wanted for the movie.
Ron Clements: Even with Lin-Manuel Miranda, we didnât know about âHamilton.â We just liked his music and loved him and his passion. Heâs so smart. One of the things he did was âIn the Heights,â which he won a Tony Award for.
John Musker: That moved between English and Spanish and did it effortlessly. Lin was open to the idea of collaborating with a musician from the Pacific Islands. Some of the other composers we talked to were a little apprehensive about teaming up. They wanted to do everything themselves. So we really liked Linâs attitude. We really wanted to get both in there.
Ron Clements:Â There were really three people that made up the musical team. There wasÂ Opetaia, and that was really the roots, the music of the islands. Thatâs very much who he is. Then thereâs Mark Mancini, who has scored numerous films and Disney animated films. He was really critical on âThe Lion King.â He took what Elton John did and merged it with âLa BohĂ¨meâ and African influences. He really fused those elementsÂ and made it work. So then Lin was the third guy. We met with him in New York, because we really wanted to bring in the storytelling of musical theater influence with the idea that the three of them would be the musical team for the movie.
CS:Â Speaking of âThe Little Mermaid,â I was looking for an Easter Egg and couldnât find one. I assume there are a fair number of Moana Easter eggs?
John Musker:Â Oh, yes! There are many.
Ron Clements:Â Flounder is in the movie. But there are a lot Moana Easter eggs. We canât tell you where they all are yet.
CS: I did catch Sven from âFrozen.â
Ron Clements: Olaf is there, too, but heâs much harder to find than Sven. In fact, we need to give a prize to anyone who finds him.
John Musker:Â Thereâs also Flash, the sloth from âZootopia.â
Ron Clements: And Baymax! You may need to see it a couple time to find him.
CS: What is the process of including Moana Easter eggs?
Ron Clements:Â Well, we donât really say, âI want a Moana Easter egg here, here and here!â
John Musker:Â People throughout the process get involved.
Ron Clements:Â Aladdinâs lamp is also in the movie!
John Musker:Â Everyone has fun with it as the models are being realized and the environments prepped. There are choices to populate a scene and they throw something together.
Ron Clements:Â We usually find out about it later and just approve it. Sometimes we donât, if we think itâs going to be too distracting.
John Musker:Â Weâre in the movie, too!
Ron Clements:Â Yeah, thatâs a tradition. Weâre very prominent in Aladdin.
John Musker:Â We donât do a voice in this one, but we do appear in a couple spots. Itâs subtle. Itâs our little Hitchcock thing.
CS: Thereâs a great line in a movie about what makes a princess. I believe itâs, âIf you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, youâre a princess.â Is that now the official criteria for being a Disney princess?
John Musker: (Laughs) Thatâs a Jared Bush line, our writer. We love the line. Itâs very funny and itâs sort of a comment on things.
Ron Clements:Â Yeah, itâs sort of saying that Moana is different than some of the others that came before. Some of ours and some of the rest.
John Musker:Â We thought of her as others have termed her, a âbadass princess.â We liked the idea of her being an adventurer. Itâs not at all a romance. Itâs really a coming-of-age story. Sheâs the hero that is going to save the world. That was a fun, different challenge for us to do.
CS: It seems like there were a few sort of meta jokes throughout Moana.
Ron Clements:Â Yeah, itâs that slightly buried-within-things commentary that has been a part of the Disney legacy.
John Musker:Â Iâm not going to say another word about it, but thereâs a sequence tied to that in Wreck-It Ralph 2 thatâs fun. Really, really fun! But I wonât say another word.
CS: Speaking of Rich Moore, this year sees the release of two animated features from Disney.Â Itâs definitely a good problem to have, but how do you work out who gets the awards attention?
John Musker:Â Of course, theyâve told us that theyâre going to push us and ignore âZootopia.â (laughs) We loved âZootopia,â though, and it got amazing reviews and did incredible box office.
Ron Clements:Â This is a big, big year for animation.
John Musker:Â Iâm just glad to have great movies coming out. Itâs a shame that weâre against them for awards, but it is what it is. And thereâs other great movies other studios are doing, too. There are 27 animated films elligible for the Oscar. Why did we have to choose this year?! Couldnât we have picked a year with 12 movies? (laughs)
Ron Clements:Â When we did âThe Little Mermaidâ in 1989, there was a Don Bluth film, âAll Dogs Go to Heaven.â There may have been another feature, but that is kind of how the world was. Now, with 27 animated features this year, things have changed.
John Musker:Â But it is good for the industry. Itâs good to have competition in our slate of movies and to have different types of movies. I think thatâs a good thing.
Did you spot anyÂ Moana Easter eggs? Let us know in the comments below!
Moana Easter Eggs - Watch for Hidden Disney Characters!