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– by Gig Patta

It is one of the best animated features of 2017.

It has heart. It has soul. It is entertaining. And it is very cultural.

The film has an all-star cast that includes Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Gabriel Iglesias, Edward James Olmos and Anthony Gonzalez as Miguel.

The film is about an aspiring young musician Miguel, who was challenged by his family’s ban on music. He enters the Land of the Dead to seek out his great-great-grandfather, who is a legendary singer.

Coco is out on Blu-ray, DVD, digital download and Movies Anywhere today.

LRM had a phone interview with Anthony Gonzalez to discuss his wonderful experiences voicing his character Miguel.

Read our interview transcript below.

LRM: I loved the film. I must’ve seen the film like three times last year. Thank you for making this movie.

Anthony Gonzalez: That’s really appreciative. Thank you.

LRM: A colleague of mine interviewed you last year and told me that you are the most talkative, nicest person ever.

Anthony Gonzalez: [Laughs] Thank you.

LRM: You had a really fascinating audition process, in which you came in with a mariachi performance.

Anthony Gonzalez: [Chuckles] When I first went to Pixar, I was about ten years old. I came in with the suit. [Laughs] They told me to take it off. It would make so much noise when I was recording. I was thankful at the first audition, that’s when I learned about Coco and about music. Music was a very big part of the movie. I did sing a song for them and they loved it. I was so happy.

LRM: Do you still fit that suit? Do you still have that suit? Did you put it back in a closet somewhere?

Anthony Gonzalez: [Laughs] No, it’s in the back of a closet somewhere.

LRM: Now also surprising, I’ve heard about all those stories on how they revealed you got the part. It was from a box that you got the part?

Anthony Gonzalez: Yes, yes! I auditioned for Coco first when I was nine-years-old and got to go to Pixar. They used my voice to see how it looks on the character. I went up to Pixar like three times a month. Finally, when I was eleven, the director Lee Unkrich told me that they had a Christmas present for me.

This was in Oakland at Pixar. The producers came over with a Christmas present. I opened it and there was artwork that said, “You got the part!” Whoa! I couldn’t believe it. I was so shocked and blessed. I was so happy to be a part of this amazing Coco team. It’s a wonderful movie.

LRM: Do you still have that box as a keepsake?

Anthony Gonzalez: Yeah. I still have it at my house. Every time I see it, it reminds me of the best time of my life.

LRM: [Laughs] Out of this production journey, what was the biggest highlight? Was it knowing that you got the part? Was it the process of the production? Was it the singing? Was it walking on the campus of Pixar for the first time? What was the best experience ever for you?

Anthony Gonzalez: [Laughs] It was all of the things you’ve mentioned. When I first got to Pixar, it was mind blowing! I couldn’t believe it. It was so big and beautiful. There was this big soccer field. I love playing soccer. There is a big Pixar store. The food there is delicious. It was so much fun for me to go. Every time they tell me to go to Pixar, I was like, “Whoa! I’m so happy!!” I couldn’t believe it.

I also loved all the talent from Coco, because everyone is talented and incredible. The message they gave was so cool. I loved all the singing and had a wonderful time. The rhythms and the lyrics are so cool. I was so happy to be at Pixar doing this every time.

The process is so cool. I got to learn so much about the tradition of the Day of the Dead. I got to learn so much about Miguel. I learned a lot about the movie and the process of making the movie. When I got the part, it was so incredible and amazing.

There was so many memories I had from this amazing journey. I am so happy to be a part of this movie.

LRM: How familiar were you with the Mexican custom? Do you celebrate the tradition of Dia De Los Muertos?

Anthony Gonzalez: Yeah, absolutely! I started celebrating that when I was six-years-old. It’s because my grandfather passed away when I was six. At the Day of the Dead, I could be with him again. I could connect with him. It’s a wonderful celebration that helped me a lot. That’s why I was so happy to be a part of this movie.

This movie could show other people about this universal celebration. I really learned a lot about this tradition. It’s a wonderful time to celebrate your time with your ancestors, loved ones and to be with them again.

LRM: While you were doing this movie, did you learn anything new about this Mexican custom that you didn’t know before?

Anthony Gonzalez: Yeah! I learned about the custom about putting out the food and the pictures. It was something that I wasn’t familiar with before. I even started doing that now.

LRM: Could you still sing some of the songs from the movie today?

Anthony Gonzalez: Yeah. [Laughs] Yes, I can.

LRM: Which of the songs do you like the most?

Anthony Gonzalez: I love all of them. I love Remember Me, Un Poco Loco, Proud Corazon, and The World Es Mi Familia. They’re all different. They’re all really wonderful and unique. I just love them all!

LRM: I understand that you are a natural musician yourself. What instruments do you play?

Anthony Gonzalez: I do play the violin. I play the guitar. And I play the piano.

LRM: Which is your best instrument then?

Anthony Gonzalez: The one that I grew up with was the violin, but I’m really learning a lot with the guitar. I hope that guitar will be my best instrument. [Laughs]

LRM: As for mariachi music, I’ve read somewhere that your entire family is into this music?

Anthony Gonzalez: Yeah.

LRM: Could you tell me more? Do they play somewhere in Los Angeles?

Anthony Gonzalez: My sisters started dancing and doing street performances in Los Angeles. My brother is in this as well. I would be inspired by them. They would be my inspiration. It’s because of them that I started singing. They inspired me.

When I first did it when I was four, I loved it so much. I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. It was so much fun. It’s fantastic! That’s what I love to do. It all started with my family. They all sing. We’re just a very musical family.

LRM: Do you perform with them today? Or do you want to focus on a different career?

Anthony Gonzalez: We perform together once in a while. It’s so fun. [Chuckles]

LRM: Now Coco being one of the biggest movies of last year, how do you keep yourself a normal 12-or 13-year-old rather than a celebrity at your school?

Anthony Gonzalez: My family is always there to support me. They keep me on the ground. They’re always there and they treat me normally. It’s all due to my family.

LRM: Coco has such an extensive toy collection. Did you manage to collect and get your hands on every single toy related to Coco out there, in particular with your character?

Anthony Gonzalez: Yes, I got so many toys that is of my character. I just couldn’t believe that. There was like Miguel toys with my voice. I was so happy. I do ended up with a lot of Coco toys. Even got stuff animals of Dante, Miguel, Pepita, Hector and Ernesto De La Cruz.

Coco is out on Blu-ray, DVD, digital download and Movies Anywhere today.

Source: Exclusive to LRM

Gig Patta is a journalist and interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review since 2009. He was a writer for other entertainment sites in the past with Collider and IESB.net. He originally came from the world of print journalism with several years as a reporter with the San Diego Business Journal and California Review. He earned his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and BA in Economics from UC San Diego. Follow him on Instagram @gigpatta or Facebook @officialgigpatta.