We sat down with Ami Thompson (Art Director, Characters) and Kira Lehtomaki (one of the Heads of Animation) who worked on Ralph Breaks the Internet–which comes to theaters November 21–to talk about one of our favorite parts of the new film–the Disney Princesses in their comfy new clothes.
What sparked the idea that Vanellope would pass on her “comfy style” to the Disney Princesses?
Kira: The idea originated with Pamela Ribon, who wrote this whole sequence. She thought, and we do, too, that every good movie has a makeover. So for Vanellope, we thought, “If Vanellope was to come into this group of Princesses, the Princesses would be curious about her. They’d ask things like, ‘What kind of Princess are you, cause I’ve never seen anything like your outfit before?'” and they’d be enamored by her. But then we thought, “Well what if Vanellope had an influence on them?” and the transformation happens.
How did you draw inspiration from the Princesses’ style and stories to create their new comfy looks?
Ami: We got a lot of inspiration from the Princesses who we know as powerful and unique characters. And each shirt or pattern has a reference to their unique stories.
How many iterations of each look did you go through?
Kira: Those were the best meetings! They were really my favorite. Ami had done so many different beautiful designs and we just went through puns and lyrics and would take an idea and say, “Well let’s draw that!”
Ami: Just to get to his point, we did almost 30 other designs for each Princess. And a lot of other people and designers contributed to that.
Kira: There could be a whole line of clothing for each of the Princesses and I’d buy them all!
Did you have a good idea right away of the different styles they’d be wearing?
Ami: At first we were designing them in pajamas, but we decided it was a little too relaxed. So we thought about having them in clothes that can be worn inside or outside.
Kira: Yeah, and there are some hints to the original movies, like Ariel not wearing shoes.
Ami: Yeah, I like to think of their thoughts on their outfits, like she’s not wearing shoes because she’s still so mesmerized by her feet!
Kira: Or like, I love how ironic it is that Elsa has a sweater, but the cold never bothers her anyway.
Which is your favorite look from the group?
Kira: I love them all and I have already ordered all of the ones that are available from shopDisney! But my favorite is probably “Nap Queen” because I love Sleeping Beauty. I saw it when I was very young and it was the reason I wanted to get into animation.
Ami: I personally like Mulan wearing the bomber jacket.
What were the original Princess voice actors’ reactions to this scene?
Kira: We were wondering if they were going to be OK with it, because it’s a different side of them that we haven’t seen before, but they were all on board. They saw the whole thing put together for the first time at D23 with the fans, so that was really cool.
Plus, they were really great collaborators. We had never seen the Princesses together in an ensemble situation except for Jodi Benson (Ariel) and Paige O’Hara (Belle), they’ve been doing this Disney thing for years, so they’re friends because they’ve been doing all these things together for so long. So it was fun talking to them because they had opinions on how their characters would interact. Ariel wants to know what the people know and Belle is book smart so she knows what the people know so they would be buddies! Fun interactions like that was great insight for us. There was a line where Cinderella said a contraction and Jennifer Hale, who voices her in this sequence, noted that Cinderella would never say a contraction! I think it was something like “I won’t” versus “I will not.” So everything mapped back to the original characters.
Were there any challenges in bringing some of the 2D Princess into CG?
Ami: The 2D dresses getting converted to CG means you have to start thinking about how thick their fabrics are, how would the wave of the fabric go, etc.
Kira: It’s like, you have to be a seamstress to know how these clothes are made!
Ami: For example, Snow White’s dress with a yellow skirt was very flat, but all the other Princesses had details in their dresses, so we wanted to balance out the amount of details. So we added embroidery and things like that to her skirt.
How does the Princess scene play a role in Vanellope’s journey?
Kira: The great thing about Disney is that everything in the movie has a purpose. There’s a reason why this scene is in the movie. It’s an important part of her journey, but you’ll have to see it to find out why!
Were you both at D23 when the scene was first screened?
What was that like being in that room, seeing how excited fans were about seeing the Princesses together for the first time?
Kira: It was so incredible, but so weird. We were sitting amongst people who worked on the film, so we were like in the eye of the storm waiting for reactions. But then the roar of the crowd made its way to the front and I saw a woman stand up, almost fainting in the aisle, people were bawling, it was so relieving. We were like are they going to love this or hate this, so it was kind of crazy to see the reaction.
Ami: It was so overwhelming because we’ve been working on this for such a long time. We were so happy, but very nervous. There was a guy sitting by me and he just lost it, I couldn’t tell if it was a good or bad reaction, but finally realized it was really good.
What was your reaction to seeing some of the comfy Princess pieces made into real products on shopDisney?
Kira: Add to cart! Ha! Literally!
Lastly, what are you most excited for fans to see when the film comes out?
Ami: There are tons of other sequences that are so good, and I just can’t wait for people to see it.
We can’t wait to see more of their hard work come to life on November 21 when Ralph Breaks the Internethits theaters.