By Maggie Pehanick, Entertainment Editor
It’s 3 p.m. on a Saturday and I’m standing outside a room in the Sé San Diego Hotel. The elevator has deposited a PR rep, three other writers and myself on the 18th floor of the posh downtown establishment.
I’m here to interview “Chuck” star Zachary Levi and actress / former teen pop sensation Mandy Moore about their parts in the new Disney film, “Tangled,” but with my recorder prepped and my questions written, all I can concentrate on is who ordered the untouched green salad sitting primly on the room service cart.
Suddenly, there is shifting in the room to my left. The voices get louder and thank-you-goodbyes are exchanged. An older man, presumably a reviewer for a paper more important than the one I represent, emerges from the room, notepad in hand. He looks at me and says, “You’ll like them. They’re very friendly.”
I nod, smile and wait for the other reporters to be ushered in before I follow. I’ve got a seasonal sore throat and I’m worried the actors might want to shake my hand. God forbid I be the one to give Mandy Moore, my childhood idol, a cold.
My fear is squashed when Levi introduces himself by offering a fist bump and an explanation that he’s sick. I take silent, personal delight that we are simultaneously ill and offer my knuckles. Ditto to Moore.
Levi is unexpectedly charming and charismatic while Moore, with a genuine grin permanently affixed to her blushed face, is a living embodiment of sunshine — the ideal Disney princess.
The Daily Aztec: Is “Tangled” a story that will appeal to both boys and girls?
Zachary Levi: Absolutely. I think that is one of the things Disney set out to accomplish. They’ve had a lot of success in the “princess” world and a lot of those movies appeal to boys as well. I mean, I was a little boy and I watched all of them, I don’t know what that means. They wanted a movie that was equilateral. Yes, you have this princess character, but it’s a fresh take on it. It’s an adventure movie at heart.
DA: What lessons do you think college students could learn from “Tangled”?
Mandy Moore: I like the idea of never questioning that little voice inside of you and not letting fear win at the end of the day. Her entire life, Rapunzel’s been told it’s her 70 feet of hair that makes her special when clearly, it was something within her that was special.
DA : I’m sure both of you are Disney fans —
DA : Right … What’s it like to be a part of the Disney legacy?
ZL: Mind-melting. We’ve talked about this at length, (motions to Moore) it’s growing up watching the films. Not just the ones that are considered our generation, starting with “The Little Mermaid.” We’re the 50th animated feature, which is unbelievable.
MM: It’s so above and beyond that we’re a part of it with this movie because you know, those movies, and “The Little Mermaid” and so on, were such huge parts of our childhood. They’re so ingrained in my memory, like singing every single word of “Beauty and the Beast.” And now, this movie could potentially mean to kids nowadays what those movies meant to us. It doesn’t get much cooler than that.
DA : When you were little did you want to be Ariel?
MM: I did, I did.
ZL: So did I, sister.
DA : I’d say you’re more like Aladdin.
ZL: I love Aladdin … For little boys, that was more the movie because he was a guy. There was also so much adventure going on. And the genie was so good — Robin Williams as the genie was maybe one of the most perfect Disney roles ever. And Abu is great, and the carpet is great and Iago is great … definitely it was more male-driven. And Jasmine was hot.
DA : Did you guys record dialogue together?
ZL: We didn’t record dialogue together once.
MM: We only met when we did the duet. Doing all the press, all of this, is the first time we —
ZL: The first time we’ve hung together.
DA : Is that difficult, when you’re imagining someone’s reactions?
MM: Yeah. I mean, I guess you get used to it as well. It allows you, or forces you to dig deep into your imagination and give every different variation on a line you can give. And at least the directors were there — they were with Zach and they were with Donna (Murphy) for her sessions, so they know what they need to get from me to match what they love and they’ve already gotten from Zach. You have to just get in there and throw caution to the wind and have fun.
DA : In your opinion, is any one type of character more fun to play or easier to play than others?
MM: It’s always fun to play the villain.
ZL: Yeah, it’s fun to play the villain. I think in society, people are called upon to be nice people — as they should be. I think it’s good to have standards, for people to treat other people with kindness and respect … (but) you don’t really have that outlet for those other parts that might be inside of you that are just dying to yell at somebody. I don’t know if it’s a matter of exorcising your demons, but when you get to be a bad guy, you get to. And there’s no recourse — you’re actually being paid to do that.
MM: It’s very cathartic.
“Tangled” hits theaters Wednesday. For more information, check out its website at disney.go.com.