I was invited by Disney to attend the LA Red Carpet Premier and Press Junket for the #JungleBookEvent. Post sponsored by Disney, but all magical junglerrefic opinions are mine alone.
Today I’m super excited to share with all of you my Exclusive Interview with Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito #JungleBookEvent while in LA. You may remember Lupita Nyong’o from Star Wars and Giancarlo Esposito from Breaking Bad, also from one of our favorite ABC shows Once Upon A Time.
Exclusive Interview with Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito #JungleBookEvent
My favorite part of an interview has been watching the cast walk in to our applause! We are all there because we truly love what we do and are most likely big fans of the actors we are interviewing. So, it’s nice to see them all excited when they see us excited and ready to interview them.
Lupita Nyong’o is as beautiful and elegant as you see her on television during interviews. She is very well composed and she has this amazing comfort about her. To me she is a huge inspiration among young woman in our time.
Giancarlo Esposito I want to describe as a philosopher. He is well spoken and I could have honestly listened to him speak about The Jungle Book all afternoon. He has a positive energy to him that I absolutely loved to see, especially being a big fan of his.
As soon as they sat down the first that they noticed were the animated figures in front of them. They joked how their family was all there, except them. Both Akela and Rashka were missing from this specific toy set from the The Jungle Book, but they both finished off with excitement that they were there with us in person instead.
As a fan of movies, I always assumed that the actors were the first ones other than the directors to actually watch the movie. To enjoy their work, so to speak. But that’s not the case all the time and you can tell by everyone’s reaction that we all kinda thought they would have seen it ahead of time.
Giancarlo: We have not. We’ve seen parts of the film, because in our work, on the microphone we did get a chance to see some of the film as it progressed. Especially in parts of it that referred to our scenes together, and our scenes with Mowgli, which has been really, really wonderful. And then we’ve been offered screening after screening, but we’re obstinate. We say no! We want to see it together as a family.
In The Jungle Book, Lupita plays Rashka the mother wolf who takes in Mowgli as her own cub. Taking on such a mother figure in the movie could be challenging to an actor, so she was asked if she has a mother figure who she drew from or life experiences to use during her role as Rashka.
Wow. Well, I have a lot of very, very powerful women in my life. My mother being the first. And most important. But in my culture, my mother’s sisters are also my mother and my father’s sisters are my mother’s too. So I’ve have many mothers. My mom had a fierce love. She has a fierce love for her children. And she’s known to say things like if you die I’ll kill you. For me, that spirit, that tenacity of mothering was something that I thought of and that inspired my version of Rocksha.
Because it takes a woman with one huge heart to take on not only a child that’s not hers, but of a completely different species. And the fact that she does this, and she does it, and she doesn’t look back, and she does everything in her power to protect that child. And then to have to let go of that child as well, that takes even more love, you know, to allow your children to do what they need to do. And all mothers go through that. I know I went through that with my mother. And as a child, you don’t appreciate it until you’re much older, and you realize how hard it is to make new connections and then how hard it is to lose those connections. So those were things I was definitely thinking about. And I love my mommy.
I absolutely found her answer so endearing and so sincere, that it really made me love her more as an actress and a person.
Taking on a role for a movie could be one of the most important things an actor does in their career. Things about it… the right role can really escalate your career, which will bring bigger roles. Then on the other hand, choosing a role that is not supportive of who you are as an actor can really do the opposite. We’ve all seen it when our favorite actors take on a role and we are critical of why they chose to do it. Here is why Lupita and Giancarlo both chose to be apart of The Jungle Book with Disney.
Giancarlo: I had a very unusual story. I was working on the Destiny’s trailer with Jon. I’d done a show called Revolution with Jon Favreau and our show had finished, and he called me and said, would you come and do a commercial with me for one day? And it was the trailer of Destiny. And the character was reading The Law of the Jungle to his son. And, it was a highly technical trailer that we did. I stepped away from reading this and had a conversation with Jon about Rudyard Kipling and the book, The Jungle Book. We had a wonderful and marvelous conversation, which ended when he said well, wouldn’t it be wonderful to do this movie again and re-envision it for a new generation? A year and a half later he called me and said guess what? I said, you got to be kidding me and he said, are you in? I said, of course I’m in.
I had read this book when I was probably about 10 years old. And my mother and I talked about it afterwards. She’d have me read everything from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven to Shakespeare, to Kipling. I was really moved by Kipling because of his background. Where he was raised. He was born in India. He’s an Indian in London and this story was such a story of freedom.
To be able to, to be in this particular story, which is told in a new way, with more eminent danger, yet with a great deal of compassion and understanding for the world which it’s placed in, which is our world of now.
Lupita: What appealed to me was this idea of playing a mother. Something that I hadn’t yet done. To do it in voice-over and just opened myself up to something new! But I also had kind of fear also about being a mother, and doing work like this makes you really put yourself there. I have always loved children. I been fantasizing about motherhood since I was probably 2 ½.And I like being put in those kinds of uncomfortable places that help me to expand my empathy. And so that was what attracted me to Raksha.
When Giancarlo was asked how the recording process was, this is what he had to say.
Very different, because technology has changed so much in the last few years. I love being on the mic. There’s a special relationship that your whole being nurtures when you’re on the mic. And I started working with RKO when I was seven years old and couldn’t get my face in front of a camera because I wasn’t black enough. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. It was really interesting situation. So I went on the mic because I wasn’t regarded as black ‘cause I’m half Italian and from Europe and all these things.
But because I spoke well, I would do recordings that would teach young black kids how to speak English. So I gained a relationship with the mic. With this, Jon put up cameras. Three different cameras that sort of, in a way captured our motion so that he could blend our physicality with the physicality that he was planning for the wolves. So I thought I was just like really, I learned so much from just being in the studio a couple of different times.
It was interesting and fascinating because you weren’t really seeing picture. You had to take your own timing the first time we were in the studio. And then the next time we had sort of a rough picture. And the next time then the rough picture was then also combined with Lupita’s voice. So then you had something to play off of. But it was a process. A very, very, very interesting process that was fun! And made to be very organic and natural by Jon’s presence.
When an actor takes on a role there has to be a reason that they decide to take it one, but not only that. I feel that when we do specific things in life or decide to take on a specific role in our lives there’s a reason for it or at least you need to see yourself in that role. Wether it be an actor in a movie or a mother in real life. When Giancarlo Esposito was asked how he identified with Akela, this is how he answered. I hope you all read his answer, because I thought it was beautiful!
Oh, in so many ways. You know, I’m a male, and on the way in, Lupita was talking about another film she did, and there was a lot of testosterone, energy! I have four daughters and you know, I have to say that, while these questions in regard to Raksha and how Lupita feels about her mom and being a mother, I feel like… the importance of the female and the mother presence in our society is greater than ever.
I have four daughters who, the eldest is 19, the youngest is 12, and I watched all of them journey into motherhood. Motherhood is very deep. It starts when you’re very, very young. Now, my 12 year old comes in, wants to put me to bed. And she’ll, you know, put her hand on my forehead and say the prayer with me. As for years I’ve done for her! It’s almost like a very beautiful, natural transition.
So while Lupita and you guys have been talking back and forth about motherhood, I have this vision that I’m really watching each one of my daughters start to become women, and mothers. And this is what’s gonna save our planet. I know it. Because there’s such a grace and understanding in the female persona when women have really come into their own. Part of that is to have children, and to be caring for those children, and not only in the care for them, but also in the nurturing and raising of them, they have to pass on their, their souls, and their intelligence.
And all those things can’t be taught. It’s something that, that in the essence of a woman, the essence of a mother, a mother knows! So to me, you know, I have learned to listen through, raising four daughters. But I’ve learned to become a progressive man because I have four women in my life. And their mother, who I I’m not married to anymore, but who impresses me because of our relationship. Because we have a very deep and friendly relationship that is completely about who we really are now.
But this is what’s going to change. It is this strength of the mother that is going to change the way the world is. It’s the compassion, the love, the very open spirited mother, and woman that will move us forward in this new century. It’s no doubt.
As parents when we take our children to see a movie, we hope that there’s is always some type of story line or event that will capture their attention. Not only for entertainment, but also some type of moment that they could take away with them. When asked, what is one thing that you want children to take back from your character? This is what Lupita had to say:
Well, I think what Mogley is dealing with is finding belonging. And what Raksha offers him is home. Her, as home. And as an anchor. And I think that’s a really important thing for children to have. And so that they can veer away from it, but always be able to come back when they need to.
So, what’s next for Lupita and Giancarlo? Lets find out!
Giancarlo: I’ve just made, um, my second feature film as a director called This is Your Death. It stars Josh Gimell, Famka Jansen, and myself. And I’ve started on Maze Runner 3, the Death Cure. I’m working with the History Channel on a story of the first black US Marshall named Bass Reeves. Money Monster coming out in April. I finally have gotten back I’m hitting my stride again. It’s kinda nice.
Lupita: Well, I am on Broadway at the moment. I’m doing a show called Eclipsed by Deni Guerera. You might know her from The Walking Dead. She plays Misdone. And she’s written this five female play about women in the Liberian civil war, and how they each individually deal with war and get themselves out of very dire situation.We are the first all female performed, directed, and written play on Broadway. And, not to mention, we’re all black. It’s a milestone. I’m really proud of.
Another film where I play a mother, but this time live action mother, Queen of Katwe comes out. It’s another Disney picture. I play the mother, and I hope you all see that too.
Seriously, what an amazing interview we had with both Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito!!!
Now, make sure you get your tickets to see Disney’s The Jungle Book in theaters on Friday, April 15th! I highly recommend watching it in 3D!!!
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If you had a chance, what would you ask Lupita or Giancarlo?