Interviewing celebrities is always a great perk of this job. One of the best things about being invited to press junkets is hearing the stories behind the stories. I always want to know who, what, where, and why. The Cars 3 interview with Cristela Alonzo, Kerry Washington, Owen Wilson, and Armie Hammer did not disappoint. With this interview came laughter and tears. Yes, I cried during an interview…again. First Alan Menken, then Cristela Alonzo and Kerry Washington. Yes, I may be a little emotional, but you always know a storyteller has done their job when they evoke emotion.
How and Why Did You Want to Be Involved with Cars 3?
The banter and chemistry during the interview was electric. The four of them were making us laugh as they joked around with each other and with us. It was cool to hear how they all became involved in the project, with Owen Wilson being the more seasoned Cars alum. They continued to refer to him as their mentor just for fun.
Cristela: “I’ll tell you that I actually got a call. I was on my way to do a stand up tour in Canada, and I got a call from my agent asking me if I wanted to go to Pixar. They didn’t tell me anything. They’re just like do you want to go to Pixar? I’m like well that’s a random question, but yes. And it wasn’t until they gave me a tour and then they sat me down in an office and broke down this Cruz character, and immediately I thought wait a minute, this is a job interview, I would have dressed up better for you. I’m wearing my Target best, but still, you know, like who, what, where, right guys? So I became involved with it and I was working with the film in November of 2015.”
Kerry: “I got a call much, much later. There was a role to play, like a super know it all, bossy pants character, super arrogant, so would I be willing to go way against type? I said yeah, and I’ve been a fan of this franchise for a long time, and just was honored to be a part of it and excited to do something that my kids could watch.” (No, she does not let her kids watch Scandal, thank you very much!)
Owen: “Well, I met John Lasseter, and he was sitting next to me. He had a dinner and was telling me about the idea, and I didn’t think necessarily anything would come of it. I didn’t know who he was or anything, and then, yeah then, you know, then it all sort of fell together and now I have this little guy” [pointing to a Lightning McQueen car].
Armie: “I wish I had a really good story. They called me, they said do you want to be in the movie? And I was like yup.”
We all burst into laughter and then Kerry quipped that Armie’s story had so much drama. Then they all made up an elaborate kidnapping story to jazz it up. I was belly laughing at this point.
Then Came the Tears
I’ve been excited for Cruz’s character for so long, and when I finally saw the movie, I became a Cruz fan for life! So I mentioned that I was the mother of 5 girls. I’m sure you’ve heard me mention it a million times, and you’re like, ok, we get it, you have 5 girls. But it’s my life. They’re my life. And every day I wake up thinking about how I’m going to raise 5 strong, kind, confident women.
So I asked Cristela what message she wanted to convey with Cruz’s character?
She then proceeded to share about how when there was a screening in Arizona, many girls in the audience couldn’t believe what happened. <Spoiler Alert> They couldn’t believe that Cruz, a girl character, had won the race. “There were moments where they had to ask their mothers if they had understood the story correctly…it’s such a weird thing that we’re so accustomed to not have that story, that experience that when little girls see it, they don’t even believe their eyes. And it’s that story like that moment, when I heard that story, that’s what I wanted kids to get out of it, especially girls, you know.
The fact that if you’re good, you can win. If you’re the best, it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl. You just have to be the best and try hard, and that’s the best take away from this story.”
As I looked at Kerry Washington when Cristela was telling her story, it was as if she knew. As she shook her head and had a look of empathy and understanding, I felt the same way. At first a tear or two fell and I tried to discreetly wipe it from my face before anyone noticed. But as Cristela continued, the thought of the hurt these girls feel not realizing their potential or that girls still feel inferior made the tears flow. It turned ugly cry. I know that my own girls have felt it, but I try so hard to teach them to have the confidence to not let anyone take away their sparkle. Thankfully, my sweet friend, Angela, passed me a tissue.
Cristela also shared a story of how her family had encouraged her to dream small, because they didn’t want her heart broken. This also brought back all the feels. My parents are Bolivian and sacrificed a lot to come to this country and provide my siblings and I with the lives we have. I think as parents we want to protect our children from hurt and heartache. I love, though, how Cars 3 is encouraging us all to dream big!! That’s a message I always convey to my girls.
Kerry Washington also dropped these words of wisdom when asked about what she learned from her character, Natalie Certain.
Kerry: “It’s made me think a lot about sort of this disposable society that we live in, because Natalie Certain is so sure…and she’s certain that you can kind of discount everybody else because of the hot, new thing is the way to go. And I think we have to be really careful about that as a society. We can sometimes, I think, prioritize hot and new more than we prioritize wise and creative.”
“We can sometimes prioritize hot and new more than we prioritize wise and creative.”
This Cars 3 interview was one of the best I’ve ever been a part of! It was pure entertainment – much like Cars 3 – where I laughed, cried, and learned. Thank you, Cristela Alonzo, Kerry Washington, Owen Wilson, and Armie Hammer for being such an outstanding group and bringing this film to life.
p.s. Cristela Alonzo hugged me. Legit hugged me. That’s all. Carry on.
CARS 3 opens in theaters June 16th!
Thank you, Disney, for inviting me to the Cars 3 Event and providing travel and accommodations. All opinions about all the feels I felt during this interview are my own.