The One and Only Ivan’s Stars Talk COVID and Captivity

The One and Only Ivan stars open up about quarantine life.

The coronavirus is dominating the headlines. It’s seeped into every facet of our lives and with lockdowns happening all over the world. The stars of the upcoming Disney+ feature, The One and Only Ivan, have to contend with a level of irony attached to their quarantine.

The One and Only Ivan is inspired by the true story of Ivan the gorilla, who was born in 1962 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As a baby, he was captured and moved to the United States, where he stayed with a human family until he grew too big. He was then transferred to a concrete enclosure and put on display in the B&I shopping center in Tacoma, Washington.

Ivan spent the next 27 years of his life in that shopping center before an animal rights group successfully lobbied for his release. Ivan was subsequently sent to Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle and finally put on permanent loan to Zoo Atlanta.

LRM Online was invited to attend a recent Zoom call with the stars of the film, who reflected on their own time in captivity. When asked about their artistic tendencies, the actors revealed how they’ve been surviving in quarantine.

Bryan Cranston, who plays “Mack” in the film, has taken up baking. Specifically, the Breaking Bad alum has started making his own sourdough bread, which he’s quite proud of.

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“In our world of self-motivation and developing your own characters, it takes a lot of energy. But you don’t really follow any rules. And so, I thought, you know what, following a recipe is kind of fun in that regard. But it’s been fun.” When co-star, Danny DeVito asked if he’d grown his own yeast for the bread, Cranston revealed that he’d gotten his supply from the back of DeVito’s ears.

For their part, both DeVito and his co-star Helen Mirren had been sucked into the theater of the bird feeder. “I went down the bird feeder thing for my entertainment,” Mirren recalled. “The squirrels and the chipmunks and watching them all work it out between themselves. And then what happens is, a great big black bear comes along and takes the bird feeder and goes off.” While popular with the finches, DeVito’s red maple never attracted bears. “Uh, I haven’t seen the black bear situation yet in the-in the Hollywood hills.”

Though they may not be battling squirrels or baking bread, Angelina Jolie and Chaka Khan have engaged in much quieter pursuits. Jolie has spent her time studying foreign policy, while Chaka Khan has been catching up on Avatar: The Last Airbender with her grandchildren. Of the two options, I think I’m in the Airbender camp.

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While Sam Rockwell was pretty disappointed that he didn’t have a hobby to share, Ramon Rodriguez was able to put a lighter spin on it and tie it back to the film.

“I love the message that you get to find yourself even later in life. You know, um, we’re continually on this journey. And here was are in this very interesting time where you get to sort of be home and whether you’re baking bread and I’m almost like a botanist out here. I can like plant and doing all these things. But also just looking within and-and what’s going on, whether it’s with yourself, country, it’s just a really interesting time. And I think these moments actually allow us to hopefully come out of it may be a bit more evolved. Um, and I think for Ivan that’s exactly his experience. Um, so, I think that’s a pretty powerful message and in particular where we are right now.”

The One and Only Ivan is based on the award-winning 2012 book of the same name by K.A. Applegate.  It’s directed by Thea Sharrock and premieres on Disney + August 21. It stars  Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Angelina Jolie, Danny DeVitto, Chakka Khan and Helen Mirren

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