Juan Antonio Bayona, Sergio G. Sánchez
Alex Etel, Ben Chaplin, Jay Russell
Will Smith, Alice Braga, Francis Lawrence
Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Dakota Blue Richards
Neal McDonough, Alan Cumming, Raoul Trujillo
Patrick Dempsey, Amy Adams, Kevin Lima
Stephen King, Frank Darabont, Laurie Holden
Natalie Portman, Dustin Hoffman, Jason Bateman
Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone
Richard Schenkman, Tony Todd
November 20, 2007
Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey help director Kevin Lima bring back classic Disney in Enchanted

By Cindy White

Disney princesses are all the rage these days, but it's been a while since a new animated character emerged to give Snow White, Cinderella or even Belle (the "beauty" of Beauty and the Beast) some competition for the hearts of audiences both young and old.

Enter Giselle, a red-haired, doe-eyed heroine who sings like the songbirds she calls friends. And who better to play her than the red-haired, doe-eyed Amy Adams, who looks and sings as if she were dreamed up by Walt Disney himself? Best known among fans of independent film for her Oscar-nominated performance in the offbeat comedy Junebug, she's also had a number of memorable appearances on hit television shows, including The Office.

Amazingly, the studio was reluctant to cast Adams at first (they wanted a bigger name), but director Kevin Lima championed her from the start. His experience working on past Disney films—including directing the animated features A Goofy Movie and Tarzan and the live-action sequel 102 Dalmatians—gave him the confidence to convince the studio that no one else was better suited to the role of Giselle, who becomes flesh and blood when she's thrown into the real world of New York City by an evil sorceress (voiced and played by the formidable Susan Sarandon).

To further satisfy the film's star quota, Lima approached Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey for the role of Robert, a divorce lawyer and single dad who meets Giselle and finds himself enchanted by her wide-eyed innocence and optimistic outlook on life. Being a dad in real life, Dempsey signed on knowing that the lighthearted film would appeal to his daughter. He even asked for a musical number, and although his character is too rooted in reality to break into song, he does get to do some dancing in the film.

Enchanted, which opens Nov. 21, also stars James Marsden as Prince Edward, who follows Giselle into the real world to save her, and Idina Menzel as Robert's real-world girlfriend. Lima, Adams and Dempsey recently spoke with SCI FI Weekly about making the film and paying homage to the wonderful world of Disney.
Kevin Lima, What are the challenges of doing a big-scale movie musical like this?
Lima: Boy, this movie has everything in it, to be quite honest with you. It's a romantic comedy, it's a musical, it's got some action-adventure, it's 2-D animated, 3-D animated. The challenge was, once you got over one mountain, you crest the mountain, you say, "Okay. We just do our huge musical number, we're done. We can just fly through the end of this movie." [Then] you were confronted with the battle on the rooftop. And you go, "Is it never going to give? Is it never going to just let up?" And it didn't, until the very, very end. There was a new challenge every single moment.
There are so many Disney references in the film. Were they in the script from the beginning, or did you add them in during production?

Lima: I worked with Billy Kelly, the writer, for about nine months on the script before we shot. And it was at that point that I started bringing in the whole idea of homage. So things that weren't in the film at that point were like the "Happy Working Song." And I thought it would be fun to do a little flip on the beginning of the movie and do like a "Whistle While You Work" in the real world. So those sort of things came into the movie. So, like, the old hag came into the movie. Those things just started to make their way in as we worked.

At a certain point I had the idea to bring in the actresses who played Disney princesses in the past. And I called them all and invited them all to be a part of the movie. And then it became an obsession, to be quite honest with you. And I changed the name of every character in the movie so that I could bring in Disney references. Anytime there was anything in the production design that needed a name, I went back into the Disney films and just sort of culled. So it goes pretty deep.

I even did things like, in a moment where Giselle is about to bite the apple, I went back to Snow White and I looked at the cutting rhythms of how they put that together, and I mirrored those rhythms in the movie. So if you look at Snow White and you look at that moment in the movie, they are identical, down to her hand hitting the floor and the apple rolling out. So I just wanted to find ways to sort of constantly speak back to those classic Disney films and remind the audience of how much joy you got from them.
Did the crew get all the references?

Lima: No, no, they didn't. I had to do a lot of explaining constantly, especially my production design staff. I had to say, "No. It has to be this name." And they'd be like, "But why? It doesn't make any sense." [And I'd say,] "Guys, they are the three songwriters from Snow White. The law firm is going to be called Churchill, Harline and Smith." And they're like, "Okay. All right." They just sort of gave into it, to my obsession.
Can you talk about casting Amy Adams? How did you find her?

Lima: She came into an audition. I'd seen probably 300 girls looking for this character, because I didn't want it to be a star. I didn't want to put a star in the role because I didn't want you to think about the star's life while you were watching Giselle. I wanted this innocent to live as a pure innocent. So I went on a journey. And to be quite honest with you, Amy was the only girl—I swear, the only girl—who walked into the room that I said, "We can do it now." She walked in and I knew she looked like a princess, for a start. She has big round eyes and beautiful fair skin. But when she started doing the scene, she didn't judge her character. She just accepted who that princess was, and put everything into accepting her. And that was really hard for actresses to do, because it can be a little bit ridiculous, you know, if you're self-conscious of it. And she didn't judge it, and I knew in that moment she was the girl, and I could make the movie. I actually went to the studio and said, "Here she is. Let's do it now."
And what did they say? Did they want a bigger name?

Lima: At first there was a lot of talk about putting a bigger name in. And I had to go through that discussion with them, and once they saw Amy, there was no question, really. They saw it too, they could see it in her audition tape. And what I did was, I told them that I'd cast around Amy. So I brought in Patrick Dempsey—who is like a modern-day Prince Charming to today's audience—to take on that weight for the studio of having a star.
Amy Adams, have you ever been compared to a Disney character before?

Adams: Well, my boyfriend claims that I'm a bit of a cartoon at times. Aside from that, no, I've not been compared to a Disney character before.

What does it feel like to be a Disney princess?

Adams: I guess I don't really attach myself to it. I mean, I know that I am attached to it. I know it's my face. But it's Giselle, and I'm a completely different entity than her. I'm very happy that they think enough of this role to include her with them, but I take no ownership of it, really, in an odd way.
Did they know you could sing like that when they cast you?

Adams: No, they didn't. They actually were not aware that James or I sang at all. And that was something that Jimmy and I immediately leapt on. We really wanted to do our own singing.
What was it like filming the big production numbers?

Adams: There's a lot of stop and start, especially in the cleaning scene where we're working with rats and pigeons and special effects, and that was a very tedious part of the filming, that process.
Can you talk about your character's transition from fantasy girl at the beginning to real girl at the end?

Adams: That was something that I loved about the script, is that she got to take that journey, and it posed a really great challenge for me as an actress to try to make that transition subtle and not too jarring for the audience, and still keeping with the spirit of Giselle, not changing who she is, just sort of changing her reality. I still wanted her to have the essence at the end. I didn't want to strip her of her goodness and kindness and loving spirit. I just wanted to sort of lift the curtains a bit.
Was it challenging acting like a fantasy character would act when you're in the middle of real-life New York City?

Adams: Well, we're perceived as crazy. And I think that's one of the reasons that the film works, because we acknowledge through Robert's character and through reactions that we're acting kind of crazy. But it's not that we're crazy, it's that our behavior doesn't work in the world that we've fallen into. Back home we're completely normal and intelligent and resourceful, and I sew. I'm completely confident in the world I come from, but when dropped into a modern world, it just doesn't work.
How long did it take you to tonally get it right?

Adams: Four months of filming [laughs]. It was a constant battle from day to day. Absolutely. Once you learn how it feels, though, I'm someone who really acts on instinct, and I can feel it in my gut if someone's not working. It gives me a stomachache to walk away from a scene sometimes, because I know it's not right. And I just, after a while I just knew. I could feel her, you know? I could feel her inside me. So I just knew when I was hitting it correctly.
Patrick Dempsey, your character represents the realistic element in a fantastic story. Was it hard for you to find that balance?
Dempsey: Yes, that was, I think, the real challenge, was trying to find the right tone. How much humor can you bring to it, as well as how much reality do you bring to it? Where does it get in the way? Sometimes that was a lot of fun, sometimes it wasn't, because everybody's having a blast around you, and you couldn't get caught up in their style of acting, which was too bad. And then you're driving the plot. But at the same time, the reactions that my character has is how the audience is going to know how to react, and that was really important.
Are you a singer? Did you wish you'd gotten to sing in the film?

Dempsey: I talked to Alan about that. I was like, "Could you write me a song if we do another one?" Because there's talk of possibly doing something else. It would be fun to do it. For me, the real exciting part of the movie, and the real challenge, was certainly the dance numbers. And Cha Cha, the choreographer, who did Moulin Rouge and Strictly Ballroom and things like that, has a wonderful sensitive, emotional quality towards his choreography. And when he talks to the dancers it was really very emotional. And each move meant something. That was really fascinating, to work with him. And I probably enjoyed the rehearsal process with Amy and the ballroom scene and all those numbers more than anything else. That was so unusual and different. There's something timeless about it, and very special. And movie magic was in those scenes. Certainly in Manhattan. Shooting in Central Park, that was a phenomenal experience.
Is that what drew you to this film in the first place?

Dempsey: The reason I did Enchanted is I think it was a smart movie, a great concept. It was an original idea. And that's rare to find. And also I could take my daughter to see it. It was a positive message, and I feel that's important.
Has your daughter seen it?

Dempsey: Yes, she's thrilled. She really enjoyed the animation part of the movie and the first number, with all the animals. And then [the CGI character] Pip really kept her going. She hated Susan Sarandon's character, obviously. She didn't like her at all. She'd bury her head when she'd come on screen. So that was good. But yeah, that was another reason for doing it, certainly. I go see these movies more than I go see anything else, this type of movie. So it was nice to be able to do something that a family can go see.
Are you particularly looking to do lighthearted films like this one right now?

Dempsey: I think for me personally, I don't feel like doing anything violent. I don't want to do anything that's dark right now. I want to do stuff that's light and just complete escapism, and I think this movie does that. I think it does it in a way that's smart. I think it's a great role model for young women, because of what the new princess represents. I think that's really important. It's very positive. I think it really talks about being negative and being positive, and that debate is interesting. But at the same time it's entertaining. And that's far more difficult to do, something that's entertaining and funny and smart at the same time, as opposed to just coming in and doing something that's just like, "OK, this is a serious drama with serious people." I have no interest in that at the moment. That could change, and I'll go through this period, and I think the world that we're in right now needs some levity.