When Pixar embarked on the journey to create “Coco” and committed to having an all- Latin voice cast, they set out in search of the perfect Miguel. Miguel is the who connects with the audience, and who we follow through the entire journey through the land of the dead. He had to be young, could act, and not only had to sing, but sing mariachis and have a grito! A tough call for any search.
After a long search, they found their Miguel in newcomer, Anthony Gonzalez. Anthony not only gives Miguel his voice, but he also gives him his singing voice and grito! We got a chance to speak exclusively to the 13 year old actor about what it means to him to be part of Pixar’s Coco, and more.
How was it when you found out you got the role?
Oh my gosh! It was just, I could believe it! I was just so thankful. I just couldn’t believe that I was gonna be in a Disney Pixar movie. And all I could do was just thank God for this wonderful blessing He gave me. And then I thanked my mom for always being there and supporting me throughout this incredible journey. And yeah, the way I got the part was, it was December 2016 and I was going to do some scratch voices for Miguel in the Pixar studios. And Lee, the director told me that they had a present for me for Christmas. And I opened it, and it was this wonderful piece of artwork that said, “You got the part.” I know, I couldn’t believe it. I was just so shocked. I was like, “Oh my gosh.” Like I froze and I was processing this like I couldn’t believe that I was in a Disney Pixar movie. And I knew that from here on out, that my life would change.
You sing in this film.
Have you always been a singer as well? Because I mean, your voice is incredible!
Thank you. Well, I have been singing since I was four years old. And well, the way it started was, my siblings, my older brother and my two sisters would sing, and they would dance, and act. They would sing and dance, and they would do street performance in La Placita Olvera. And I would just look up to them, and I would see how much fun they’re having in the stage and how much fun their dancing, and they’re laughing, and they’re smiling. And I thought to myself, “I wanna do the same thing as well.” So I started singing at age four, and the moment I got up at stage the first time, I knew that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.
So you grew up in L.A. then?
Have you actually celebrated Dia de los Muertos? I mean, L.A. is full of celebrations.
Yeah! There’s a lot of the Mexican culture here. I do celebrate Dia de los Muertos and I did celebrate it back then as well, because it’s just a wonderful celebration where you can take time to remember your ancestors. For example, me, my grandfather passed away and he was very special to heart. But that’s why I love celebrating The Day of the Dead because it’s a day where you can connect with your ancestors, with your loved ones once again, and I can connect with my grandfather once again and I can be with him once again. And that’s what I love most about this celebration.
Miguel’s journey is one of not just reconnecting with his ancestry and his family, but in a way he kind of finds his identity and who he is. Would you say that … Well, I mean, have you embarked on that? I mean, you’re young. Have you gone through that journey yet or are you looking forward to it?
I feel like I went with journey with me Miguel, because I lived through what he went through. And it was just an amazing journey he went through. And what Miguel really learned was about the importance of family. And now, even I value family even more, because I know how important it is.
Did embarking on that journey with Miguel and this film kind of make you think about the next steps you’re gonna take in regards to your family and your career and what you want to be?
Yeah. In fact, it even helped me, because well, the lessons in the story like what Miguel really represents is to never give up and really do what you love. And that made me want to act and sing even more, and do what I want to do and really pursue my career.
This historic all-Latino, I grew up, we had nothing like this. So, first off, thank you so much for giving this to our kids, your generatio. The future generations, they’re gonna look up to you and say, “He did it. So I can do it.” How does that make you feel?
It makes me feel so proud of myself. And all I can do is just thank God, because without Him I wouldn’t be here. And yeah. And also the director, the amazing director, and the amazing producer. They’re just so nice. And the co-director Adrian Molina, Darla Anderson, Lee Unkrich, they’re just such amazing people. And I hope be … Such nice and so heartwarming human beings.
You spoke a little bit about your grandfather who had passed on. What about do you relate from your grandfather that now you see is a part of you?
Well really, what my grandfather really taught me was basically to really do what you love, and he was always there for me. He was always there to support me in my singing career. And that why I thank him so much, because without … He formed who I am now. Like our ancestors, the reason why the Day of the Dead is such an important celebration, such a wonderful celebration is because your ancestors formed who you are now, who shaped your future. And it’s just an amazing, incredible story that Coco shows this amazing celebration.
What do you hope the main message that kids and teenagers get when they walk out of this film?
Oh, like if they have a secret passion that they have, to really show the world and really do what they love, and pursue what their dreams. Like Miguel does, he wants to be a musician, he will be a musician. He will do it forever. And me as well, I wanna be a singer and an actor, and I will do it for the rest of my life. And another thing that I hope people take away from this movie is really the importance of family. Family is the heart of Coco. It’s so important and you wouldn’t be who you are now without family.
“COCO” opens in theaters November 22nd.