For many of us, to voice act in a Pixar film would be like a dream come true, but for comedian, producer, and actress Cristela Alonzo, she actually got to live it out as the voice of Cruz Ramirez in Cars 3.
Upcoming Pixar had the opportunity to have a chat with Cristela to talk about her experiences working with the studio, both as a voice actor for Pixar’s acclaimed 2017 feature, and presenter for the revealing behind-the-scenes series.
What did you love about working on this series, Inside Pixar: Foundations? What surprised you the most?
When I was a kid, I used to draw a lot. I was really into comic books when I was growing up; I love drawing! I come from a very blue collar family; so it was this thing where I was thinking about wanting jobs that were creative, like that I didn’t even know existed, because my family’s reality was so different.
I love asking why; I love asking questions. When we were recording Cars 3, I loved talking to people to find out what they specifically did – because, Pixar, as a whole, is such a riddle, and I know that not many people have access to it. So the one thing that really surprised me was that you see how many people are involved in making one film. And then you realise that it gets into very specific things.
For example [as seen in Inside Pixar: Foundations]: there was somebody whose only job was to create Dug (Up)’s fur! That’s a single person’s job, which is a detail so small when you think of the bigger picture of what exists in a Pixar movie. So for me, it was the idea that it’s not only about “drawing”, it’s about the technology that exists with the “drawing”.
How has your involvement with Pixar inspired you in your career outside of animation as a comedian and actress?
I have to say that working with Pixar has been one of the best experiences that I personally never thought was gonna happen. Because what are the chances of being in a Pixar movie?
There’s this really great freedom that I learnt from going to Emeryville, with working with the artists with this documentary; you got a sense of, you know, “we’re good at this” – in order to get something, it’s about not having any limits or boundaries.
I’ve learnt from Pixar that if you don’t have any boundaries, you can make anything good and tell any story, and you can tel a good story if you can connect it all together in different levels. And that’s what I’ve realised that, as humans, we tend to always wanting to say no, or we’ll give each other reasons to why things won’t work out. But Pixar doesn’t do that. Pixar actually does the opposite.
Was there any notable animated movies that inspired or influenced you?
Inside Out! It’s a beautiful movie; I also love how [in the series] that we got to talk about emotions. I loved that they got to share a story where it’s a kid (Riley), but you got to see the really adult emotions that live within all of us; how we feel them, how they interact.
What I loved about that story is that we all work with emotions, we all work with thoughts and process, and that thoughts & processes have no limit. But at the same time, the story itself teaches you that it’s okay to be sad. And it’s okay to be happy. And things change! Its about feeling in the moment – Inside Out to me is such an outlandish way to show such basic truth.
What was your favorite moment about voicing Cruz?
When I was growing up, I used to get made fun of for my laugh, and my voice, all the time. I’ve always had this voice, even as a kid, where my laugh was always really loud. People used to say it was really loud, annoying, obnoxious; when you hear that as a kid growing up, you start getting very self conscious.
When I started going up to Emeryville, to do the sessions for Cars 3, there were moments where I would laugh, because I’m a big laugher. And the people in the room would also laugh, and asked me to laugh more! And they would say, “if you want to laugh, go ahead and laugh.” It was one of those times where I realize nobody’s ever asked me to laugh! A lot of people get that feeling of redemption. The thing that people used to make fun of me for, is now my biggest asset. And it’s strange, because I feel like, in a way, Pixar really allowed me to see myself in a way that I hadn’t seen myself before.
As a Latina storyteller, are there any stories or themes that you’d love to see Pixar come out with?
I think Cruz was a really good step – showing that Cruz was a Latina character, but you really didn’t think much about her being Latina – it was really more about chasing this dream that she had. And I think that what’s really interesting to someone like me.
I grew up with brothers, I was a tomboy. It was this thing where I struggled a lot with my identity with people always wanting to tell me – “that’s what girls do”, “girls don’t do that, boys do that.” To me, it’s about telling more stories where people just exist.
It’s not about certain things being a certain way. [It’s not about] a character that’s Asian, or a character that’s Latino – it’s all about that, at the end of the day, does this person have a dream? And are they going to get the dream? I think that Pixar does an excellent job of doing that. They’re doing a good job. Go more with it.
Lastly: besides Cruz, what Pixar character best describes you?
That’s a hard one! My first thought was Dug the Dog (Up), because I really love the happiness that he gives out. He doesn’t have to say a lot. And when you see him, you just get so happy to see him!
Bob Peterson (the voice of Dug), was in my sessions; Vince (Caro), one of the sound engineers, had a stuffed Dug that I would actually hold on to when I was doing recording, and Bob would act the voice for me… it made me do a better job!
Inside Pixar: Foundations is a 5-part series showcasing the behinds-the-scenes inner workings of Pixar Animation Studios, releasing exclusively on Disney+ this Friday, 25th March.Tags: Cars 3, Cristela Alonzo, Inside Pixar Last modified: March 25, 2021