‘Disenchanted’ Director Adam Shankman Says Struggle of Sequels is Fans Actually Wanting Characters to ‘Be the Same’ As Always

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It may be a Herculean task to take on the challenge of making a sequel to a film that an entire generation has come to expect. So Adam Shankman decided to do it twice in one year. And, according to the filmmaker, the real challenge of making a sequel is realizing that fans don’t always want too much growth in their characters.

First, he produced “Hocus Pocus 2” for Disney+, and now he’s celebrating the release of “Disenchanted,” which he directed. Of course, he celebrated far away from social media the first days on them, in order to avoid seeing too many reactions, good or bad. He’s happy with what he’s done, and he just hopes the people who came to “Enchanted” are happy too.

“The reality is – and it’s kind of weird in the movie – a lot of what I’m dealing with this whole part of the process now is, you know, I did something. It is what it is for a million reasons,” Shankman told TheWrap. “And then it’s over, and I can’t control what happens in the world after that. And so it’s not in my interest to try to control it, to try to control the narrative.

He continued, “Because I can’t. And that’s actually literally like the subject of the movie. With that, Giselle is like, ‘I can’t control something, so I can try to control it. And if I try to control it, I’ll only make it worse, you know? And so, my feeling is, walk away.

Cast and character guide

In the case of “Disenchanted,” however, it was more of a storyline in which Shankman walked back on something he parted ways with over 10 years ago. Because, he reveals, “Enchanted” was being considered when it first appeared at Disney. But at the time, that wasn’t quite what ended up on screen.

According to Shankman, the original “Enchanted” had more of a PG-13 feel. No casting was yet attached and the script was far from finalized. He was fresh off “Bringing Down the House” with Queen Latifah and Steve Martin, and notes that “I was kind of psychologically going in that direction” at the time. So when “Enchanted” got a little more family-oriented, it drifted away — and still struggles about it.

“And, you know, big mistake. Congratulations Kevin Lima. Everyone,” Shankman said. “I saw it, then I saw what Amy was and did, the cast, and [James Marsden] who just after doing “Enchanted”, came to see me to do “Hairspray!” It was wild.

You can check out TheWrap’s full conversation with Adam Shankman below.

Obviously, “Enchanted” is a huge and important movie for a lot of people. Does this mean that when “Disenchanted” came out, you jumped on it?

Well, that’s because now I’ve become friends with everyone. Like me, I led [James Marsden], I’m friends with Jimmy. I have known Patrick for many years. Amy is a really close friend of mine, who we really bond with through our kind of corny love for musical theatre. We actually met at a party she was having, actually right after she did “Enchanted!” And her and Jimmy did a duet at a gala that I was directing. So I staged a number for them. And that’s how we met. And our bond was really rooted in our deep, almost obscene love of musical theatre.

How to watch 'Disenchanted': The Disney sequel streaming?

And now I’m friends with Amy and Idina [Menzel] for years. And me, when I went to Disney, I was always curious to know what was going on with the project. And, you know, Barry Josephson [the producer of “Enchanted”] had been trying to get things done – I think of, like, two administrations at that time that we had been through. From Dick Cook to Oren Aviv, to Rich Ross, to, you know, to Sean [Bailey], where we are now. And he had been trying to push the rock up the hill for so long. It’s really hard to move projects through administrative bends.

So when I went there, I knew it was kind of in this country out of nowhere, but I asked Sean about it. And he said, ‘Well, that’s something we keep kicking the tires on.’ And he pitched the story to me, and there were elements where I was like, “Oh!”, and then I was like, “Oh’. Like, there are other elements where it just didn’t feel right or right for the characters. I said, ‘Can you give me the script you currently have?’ And I just want to read it. And he said, sure, why not, and so he gave it to me. And I read it.

In my mind, I was like, well, I don’t think it should be in that direction that they went. But I was like, what everyone seems to miss is that Morgan being a teenager and all that, I was like – doesn’t everyone see that Giselle is Morgan’s stepmom? And for Giselle, those words would sound different. Or, she would get the idea of ​​what a stepmother is in a very different place than she is in the real world.

And there’s even a moment in the first movie where young Morgan distinguishes between mother and stepmother, and Giselle says “I heard they’re not everything wrong.”

Exactly. But again, it depends on how it would be said, the context and the moment. Truly, the moving moment that this was to become. So really, I just went from there and created a pitch and hit Sean. And then Sean actually went to Barry and Amy, and you know, and did everything, and cut to where we are!

Disillusioned
Disney+

And here we are! I know Amy Adams was a producer on this, so I’m curious what your conversations are with his looked like once you finished the story. Because obviously, this character is very important for her and her career.

Well, here’s the thing. And I can frame that in a very specific way. In Hocus Pocus, it’s not hard to stick with the math and first-mover formula for a very crowd-pleasing experience. Because all you have to do is resurrect the witches who died in a specific location. And so when they came back, they would be just as they were. So it’s going to be very nice for the fans. Because even though, in my experience, fans who are always hungry or rabid for sequels, they want more, but they want everyone to be somehow the same as them, which is very complicated .

The problem with Giselle in “Enchanted” – and that has been the conversation with Amy, and this is very important — is that Giselle is no longer a fish out of water. It would have been a decade later, she wouldn’t just be playing the traditional ingénue, she would have progressed. And she wouldn’t be the totally naive person she was. And that was really important. Because by the end of the first “Enchanted,” she’s on her way to integrating into the real world in a very meaningful way. She’s in a relationship, she took a job, you know what I mean? She is inside.

So now, what would that look like all these years later? Because you no longer have that element of his or her personality to work with. So where are you, because it was very important to [Amy] that she had evolved. She’s like, ‘If I lived in the world all this time, I’d be different.’ And I said yes. And so, finding the balance between keeping her as her optimistic self while pushing her forward was the challenge.

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And that seems to have come into play when Giselle learned about sarcasm, which was really fun for me.

Well, that’s because Morgan is growing up and [Giselle] don’t know how to go about it. Because a young child turning into a teenager would be a much bigger change than seeing Robert evolve in this world, you know what I mean? So that’s the most dramatic change in a person that she sees. And Morgan has a little speech in the movie where she was like, ‘You know, I was just this young girl who saw a princess. Of course, I believed in magic. And then she kind of, you know, grew up and a little out of date and probably like most teenagers do, she was embarrassed by their parents, you know? And she says, imagine if your mother had become a magician and sang the drive. I mean, it’s almost like a teenager’s nightmare.

Well, I have to say Gabriella Baldacchino, who played Morgan in “Disenchanted,” was a standout for me. I loved her and legitimately had to search to see if she played Morgan in the first movie.

I’m glad you liked it and that you liked it! I think Gabby was a real – it was a real find. And for me, it was a very easy and quick decision. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of women, and I just – you know, it’s kind of like when I first saw Nikki Blonsky [for Hairspray]. I was like, ‘Oh, I think I found her.’ You know, my mind and my heart stuck a pin right there, and I never really moved.

She was amazing. And before I go, on behalf of the fans, I have to thank you, because Idina Menzel got to sing in this one! Everyone was so sad when the first one came out and Idina didn’t get a song, so was it important for you to make sure she got a musical number this time around?

One of the first things that came out of my mouth, and Amy’s mouth. It was not a question. And, my first conversation with Alan [Menken] and Etienne [Schwartz]it was like, ‘Is Idina–’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s write her a song.’

How to watch 'Disenchanted': The Disney sequel streaming?

And, this was May 2020, we were deep, deep, at the height of our 40s. The world was very turbulent. We were locked up. And everyone was afraid to come near each other, and everything was closed. And so Amy and Idina recorded those voices – like, someone completely covered in hazmat would come in with a briefcase, with a kit, and they would drop it off at their house. Hidden completely, like, all protected.

And then Amy and Idina would take that, and there was a computer in there and a microphone and stuff like that. And they had to fit into the smallest closet possible, and they had to record in their closets, in their homes.

And these are the voices that are in the film. Amy’s “Fairytale Life”, the emotional is that, and I would say 95% of “Love Power”.

‘Disenchanted’ is now streaming on Disney+

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