Q&A: Mandy Moore & Zac Levi

There's probably nothing Disney does better than spinning animated versions of fairy tales. And this holiday season, the Mouse House has outdone itself with the wildly entertaining (and only mildly sappy) new 3-D musical Tangled. While it's based on the classic tale of Rapunzel, about a girl whose gorgeous blonde hair's powers lead to her being kept in a tower away from other regular people, Tangled expands that threadbare storyline into an adventure worthy of Indiana Jones, with several action sequences that will cause dropped jaws in adults—even those who aren't bringing kids—and children alike.

A big part in any animated feature's success rests on the voice talent involved, and here is where the makers of Tangled have succeeded wildly. Pop singer/actress Mandy Moore (who's portrayed vastly different Christian characters in A Walk to Remember and Saved but avoided the topic of religion in her interviews) plays the golden-haired girl, bringing the talents she's developed over the course of six albums to life.

But it's Zac Levi who's the even bigger surprise, as TV's Chuck handles the humorously adventurous role of Flynn Rider—who rescues Rapunzel from her tower and takes her on her first action-packed journey into the outside world. One might expect him to give voice to a hero, but when he opens his mouth to sing, it's stunning to hear the appealingly geeky guy we all know and love burst out with a full-throated, Broadway-worthy vocal that more than holds its own against the veteran singer Moore.

Together, they help make Tangled a must-see musical adventure that anyone with a kid or younger niece or nephew should use as an excuse to pop on some 3-D shades and feel like a kid again themselves. Zac and Mandy each sat down recently to answer questions at a special press day at Disneyland, and RELEVANT was there to bring you the highlights.

Mandy, tell us what you managed to find in Rapunzel to make her seem real and relatable for your performance.

Moore: She's sort of a young woman who's coming of age, about to turn 18. She's lived an idle life, lived in a tower her entire life, doesn't know what the outside world is like, and she's a young woman who's eager to discover what's out there. I think every young woman goes through that as they find their own identity and start exploring life beyond their home and parents, so they've made it very relatable.

So how does Zac's character team up with yours?

Moore: When she meets Flynn, she concocts a plan to give back his satchel [which has a valuable stolen jewel in it] as collateral. If Flynn helps her escape the tower and her mother's grasp and investigate what the lights that fill the sky above the distant kingdom on her birthday are about, she'll return his satchel to him.

Flynn is a charming, over-confident thief who finds himself in a precarious situation. He's stolen something and is being chased by the kingdom when he maneuvers his way into her tower. She's terrified because she's never seen another person close up before. She decides to capture him, tie him up and interrogate him further and see why he's in her home.

Was it difficult adjusting to animation-style acting with your voice, as opposed to a full-bodied, live-action performance?

Moore: The directors were excellent, just the loveliest guys, and I immediately was so taken by them in my first audition. Both of them come at it from the same place. They're really passionate and thorough in their explanations. They have to cover so much ground, and I have the utmost respect for directors of animation now than before I ventured into this particular movie.

This also really gave you the chance to combine your dual careers as a singer and actress, didn't it?

Moore: I love music and I love singing, so being involved in a project like this was unbelievably exciting because you get the combination of both things. When I ventured into the first music rehearsal with Zac, the minute he opened his mouth my jaw hit the floor, like: “Whoa! He really can sing!” He has a beautiful voice, and he's just a charming, funny guy. And his Flynn stuff is excellent as well.

So Zach, what was it like playing the guy hero in a fairy tale centered on a girl?

Levi: Flynn Rider is a dashing bandit. With every Disney movie based on a fairy tale, you have your hero and heroine and clearly Rapunzel is the heroine of the story. In the most traditional sense, Flynn would be more prince or knight, the good guy archetype. But I like how they turned it on its head a little bit. This guy's a thief.

What was it like working with Mandy on the movie?

Levi: For Disney to get Mandy for this job is awesome, and we've gotten to work together a couple times in recording sessions. She's cute and sweet and especially with just a mic in front of you, you're creating this whole world, so it's very important to have someone in on it with you in creating this whole world. Watching her work in the isolation booth, and how much movement and emotion she's able to put into each song, it's like already watching the animation done, she's that spot on.

How did you learn how to sing so well? I never would have expected that.

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Levi: I had a long background in theater before getting Chuck, so I've done a lot of stage musicals, and this just came naturally to me. It was really exciting to go back to those roots and let people hear what I can do.

Were you daunted by singing against an established recording star like Mandy?

Levi: Mandy and I do a duet together called “I See the Light,” at which Flynn and Rapunzel are finally seeing that life the way they've lived before is limited, and [they finally] let their guard down and are vulnerable and are real with one another, and realize, "Oh my gosh, I love this person!”

It's a real story infused with comedy, adventure and drama. I think the little kid in all of us is always looking for that, and I think we deliver.



Anonymous commented…

I wish you guys would have asked at least one question about their shared faith in Christ. It's ironic that another featured story on the site is about how Christians make such horrible movies. It seems that Mandy and Levi haven't let their faith hinder them artistically.


Chester Branch commented…

Repunzle comes across as an unlikely but refreshing Christ-figure. http://j.mp/gr0xUL


Sadie commented…

Brendan Stark makes a very good point. Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi are both openly religious people who made an incredibly lovely film together with an outstanding message. They are clear examples that one can be religious in Hollywood, make good choices, choose good projects, and not be boxed into making only explicitly "CHRISTIANNN" films.
I think you could have mentioned this, at least.


Anonymous commented…

I would like to explain what people refer to as The Gospel or Good News. In this explanation, I will discuss Gods grace, which unfortunately so many people do not understand or have never been clearly explained.

Unfortunately, many people attend a Christian church regularly (or attended one in the past) but have never been clearly taught what the Bible stresses as the most important decision that one could ever make. It is only in making this decision that one actually becomes one of Gods children and is saved from His eternal judgment. This decision deals with what is referred to as The Gospel. If you have never heard The Gospel before, here it is. Around 33 AD, Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate, paid the price for every single persons sin in history by dying the death of crucifixion at the hands of the Romans. He willingly died for every persons sin that has ever lived and every will live. That includes both you and me. He willing died a death that we deserve for our moral failures in life. Jesus was brutally beaten, whipped, mocked, spit upon, nailed to a wooden cross, and then died. Three days later, He rose from the dead, as He foretold His disciples (group of followers). Jesus then ascended into heaven forty days later. He currently lives with God, His father, in heaven today. During Old Testament times (times prior to the birth of Jesus Christ B.C.), people had a keen awareness of their moral guilt, as any honest person still does today. I know that I have wronged many people and have felt a deep-seated guilt within many areas of my life. Many people during Old Testament times sacrificed animals to God as a form of limited atonement for their immoral actions. God often accepted these sacrifices, but only in a temporary and limited way. Over time, God changed this extremely limited form of atonement, as He had planned from the very beginning of time. Moreover, God sent His one and only son Jesus Christ down to the Earth. Since Jesus was both sinless and blameless, He willingly died on the cross as an unlimited atonement. It was in Gods will for His son to die in this way. This unlimited atonement is available to any person who whole-heartedly repents of their sins (moral failures) and then asks God to personally apply Jesus undeserved death and resurrection as a payment for their sins. It is imperative here that one believes the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was ultimately an act of Gods grace. God did not have to offer an escape from our moral guilt and eternal punishment. However, God is gracious. He has a compassion and love for people that is indescribable. God wants to wipe the slate clean for us, in regards to our moral failures. Through this action, we could then enter a personal relationship with His son Jesus Christ and escape his eternal judgment. The Bible refers to moral failures as sin, or missing the mark of Gods perfect standard of morality. Sin is an ancient archery term for an arrow that missed the target. God is loving in the purest sense of the word and would like to grant us victory over the sins that still haunt us from our past. All we have to do is accept this gift of grace from Him. It is free.

God promises us a way to become morally blameless and gain entrance into heaven after living our physical live here on Earth. Here is what we must willingly do on our part. First off, we must truly believe that God is gracious and extended His grace by allowing His one and only son to die as a ransom for our sins on the cross. We must admit to God that we have failed morally during our lifetime and that Jesus Christs brutal death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could ever forgive our sins. After making this decision (accepting Gods grace), we are immediately forgiven of all past, present, and future sins. In addition, we would be guaranteed entrance into heaven after our physical death here on Earth. We would then live with both God and His son Jesus forever. We would be guaranteed to see all of our loved ones who had made this decision during his or her physical lives on Earth.

You could make this decision today. Please do not wait for the perfect time. You could ask God for eternal forgiveness through applying the death and resurrection of Jesus to your life within the quietness of your bedroom tonight. This is the most important decision that you will ever make.

So you might be asking, Where in the Bible does it explain what has just been summarized? Here are some passages clearly stating that Jesus seeks a personal relationship with us:

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
- Romans 10:9-10

"Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;
- Acts 3:19

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
- John 3:16

As long as you repent of your past sins (moral failures) from the heart, confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and apply Jesus Christs death and resurrection on the cross as a payment for your sins, you are guaranteed eternal life with God in heaven. You can make this decision at any time, anywhere. You can make this decision alone with God or within a group setting.

Please know that one cannot sit the fence on making this decision of accepting Gods gift of grace. If one chooses not to decide, he or she has still made a choice. This would be like receiving a check (hearing The Gospel) but never endorsing and cashing it in at the bank (personally applying Jesus death on the cross and resurrection towards ones sins).

He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
- John 3:18

The result of not choosing to accept Gods gift of grace, which offers eternal life with both Him and Jesus in heaven is clear. You will live the remainder of your life here on Earth apart from Jesus Christ and His empowerment. You will then follow your life plan and not His plan for you. After you physically die, you will then be brought to a dark place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is a place of eternal regret. Here, you will remember this very letter and how you were told the truth but chose not to repent and begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Remember, if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. You could be diagnosed with a terminal illness tomorrow or be the recipient of a head-on collision while returning home on that all too familiar, two-lane highway this Friday night. If you are considering starting your personal relationship with Jesus Christ, please do not wait to make this decision. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

The following passage outlines the only requirements Jesus Christ has set to both gain eternal life and begin a personal relationship with Him while you are still alive here on Earth. He makes it crystal-clear in the Bible what is required

that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
- Romans 10:9-10

God has a plan for your life. You can watch this plan unfold once you accept His gift of grace. This great plan involves your life experience while here on Earth and continues after your physical death on into heaven.

For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
- Jeremiah 29:11-13

Please consider what I have said here. I am not sure if you have ever made this decision before, but I needed to make sure that you had the facts. If you should decide that you want to learn more about the life of Jesus and gain a better understanding of authentic Christianity, I strongly recommend reading the book of John within the Bible (NASB or NIV translation).

In closing, here is a verse that someone once shared with me that finally brought me into a relationship with God during an extremely low point physically and emotionally. The understanding of Jesus desire to know me personally changed my life forever. Here it is:

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
- Revelation 3:20

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