It's always good to be hot in Hollywood, unless of course you're a snowman.
Such is the predicament of Josh Gad, who finds himself in the midst of quite the run lately and having trouble keeping track of just what film he's promoting. Good thing Yahoo Movies was there to remind Gad when we spoke over the phone last week to get the inside scoop on "Frozen," Disney's upcoming animated winter wonder.
"Frozen" tells the story of Anna (Kristen Bell), who must travel across an icy countryside to face her sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), the Snow Queen who has imprisoned the land in an endless winter. Aiding Anna on her quest is the ever-manly outdoorsman Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer Sven, and the most personable snow man you've seen since Frosty, Olaf – voiced by Gad.
Gad's humorous and endearing recollection of his first Disney experience should be more than enough to get you excited for our exclusive trailer premiere tomorrow, September 26, at 12pm ET/9am PT. In turn, tomorrow's trailer should get you even more pumped to see "Frozen" in theaters on November 27.
Where you coming to us from today?
Josh Gad: I am in Southern California, in my home. It's the first day I've been in my home for longer than an hour this week. I'm very excited. It's been a little insane, yeah.
How do you keep track of what you're promoting?
JG: Well, I got confused today because I've been promoting "Thanks for Sharing" all day long and I didn't realize until about a minute or two ago that this was for "Frozen." I think it would have been very awkward to promote "Frozen" with the same talking points as "Thanks for Sharing." It probably would have been a little bit of a mess, but I'm so excited to talk about "Frozen." I think it's such a gem, and I'm in love with everything that I've seen of it.
How does one prepare to play a snowman?
JG: I prepared by spending a couple of months in a meat locker, not all at once, I would just go in and kind of sit there and take it on. And then I realized that it was really unnecessary. So, I started just acting.
No, really, doing a voice in a Disney movie is kind of a dream come true for me. I've always been such a massive fan of those movies in general, the animated movies in particular. I grew up seeing "Little Mermaid," seeing "Aladdin," seeing "Lion King" – kind of in the Golden Age of Animation, or the Second Golden Age of Animation. I was a young and impressionable kid, and those movies to me we're part of the reason that I wanted to be in this. I remember seeing "Aladdin" and being blown away by Robin Williams as the Genie, and saying, “I want to do that one day. I really want to do that.” Or Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella in "Lion King" as Timon and Pumbaa. It looked so cool to be a part of that. And so, when I got the phone call I was like, "Are you kidding me?" I literally was screaming like a little girl.
[Related: 'Frozen' Character Profiles and Biographies]
You actually screamed like a little girl?
JG: I did. I actually screamed like a little girl which then made my own little girl, my two-and-a-half-year-old cry. She didn't understand why daddy was screaming like that.
She'll appreciate it someday I'm sure. Does she watch Disney movies?
JG: Well, a very neat little parlor trick in my house is to put on the trailer for "Frozen" and every time she hears my voice coming out of that snowman it's like some dark sorcery is happening. She doesn't understand it. But she loves it.
I think we were seeing "Monsters University." It was the very first movie I ever took her to, and they had the preview for ["Frozen"], and she looked at me and she goes, “Daddy? I want more daddy!” She immediately put two and two together without me saying anything, which was surreal and beyond rewarding.
You were talking about Nathan Lane and Robin Williams; did you base your Olaf on any previous sidekicks?
JG: Well, I think that he continues a great tradition of that kind of sidekick comic relief from the films. Those were always the roles that stayed with me. The princesses weren't necessarily what I was attracted to. It was the idea of these goofy kind of sidekicks because they were instantly relatable to me. Even going back as far as Jiminy Cricket and Baloo, that long tradition of that kind of goofy conscience, or that other view of the world that has comedic sensibility. It was something I was always attracted to. So I definitely wanted to keep that joy of what that meant to people alive and hopefully not screw up the grand tradition of it all.
How do you go about bringing that joy to the booth?
JG: I think that it all begins and ends with the directors and Chris [Buck] and Jen [Lee] really allowed us to play. There was so much improv and there was so much generosity in allowing me to do my version of certain things and then work with them to figure out what was gonna set him apart. Their stuff is so genius to begin with that you don't really need to do much, but that playfulness definitely was encouraged, and to a large extent they used a lot of it. So, I was really happy to see that my contributions kind of made their way into the film as well. And then I had the chance to sit down with the animators who also kind of utilized my facial expressions and all of that stuff to bring this character to life. It's really a fascinating and amazing process.
Does Olaf have your nose?
JG: I actually have a little nose. My grandmother used to say to me, "A boy doesn't deserve a nose like this." She would accost me for having it. So, no, he's got a carrot for a nose, which is inherently different, and it's also much longer than my own. But he's definitely got some of my quirks and my lack of social panache sometimes.
Why didn't they offer you the part of the prince?
JG: I don't know. I feel like I should be insulted, but I guess Jonathan Groff was already cast when I signed on. I forgive them.
Well, I think you have a prince in your future for sure. If you could date any past Disney princess, who would it be?
JG: You know I'm a big fan of "Splash," so I'd have to go with Ariel, just because that idea of being attracted to a mermaid has been ingrained in me since my childhood. We'd keep things surprising at all times, so probably, Ariel.
I know there's a "Book of Mormon" connection here, how did that play out?
JG: Well, Bobby [Lopez] unfortunately knows my voice very well so he, just without fail, decides to write notes that are stupid and unnecessarily high. I can't fight him because I know that he knows that my voice can do dumb things, but I don't like to do dumb things. So I feel like the Lopez husband and wife team took advantage of my voice and it hurt me a little bit.
No, it's always such a thrill to work with Bobby and Kristen and I would literally do anything for them.
I read that you're writing "Twins"?
JG: Twins has already been written, but I am writing the sequel, "Triplets." No, I'm going back and rewriting "Twins" because I wasn't happy with the way it came out. I am, yeah, we're in the midst of writing it now. It's heading into its second draft and Universal loves it and we're really thrilled with it, and I think that you may be seeing Vincent and Julius and their brother, Eddie Murphy, soon at a theater near you, hopefully.
Cool! How did you get involved in that?
JG: I was a big fan of the movie. It was one of those kind of like childhood favorites. I heard that they wanted to do a sequel. And I knew the people over at Montecito including Ali Bell and Ivan Reitman. I was just loosely discussing the direction that they were going, and they didn't really have a take on it. So I kind of went in which my writing partner and said, “Would you ever consider this?” And they loved it. So, it just all fell into place from there.
When you're hot, you're hot? How does that mesh with being a snowman?
JG: [Big laugh] I'm very, very lucky. Every day I wake up and I pinch myself. I had this surreal moment where I took my daughter to Disneyland while I was promoting "Frozen" at D23, and I got to see the "World of Color," which I'm going to be hosting for the winter months – it's a night time show at Disneyland – and I'm seeing this overlay play out in front of me, and I see all these iconic Disney characters that I grew up with, and going back to ones my grandparents grew up with, like "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." And I'm looking at it and I'm going, “My God, I'm a part of this now.” Like, people are going to come to Disneyland, and they're going to see and hear my voice as part of this tradition and it's really amazing. You don't take it for granted.
See Josh Gad as Olaf in the teaser trailer for Disney's "Frozen":