Disney’s newest animated film, FROZEN, will be in theaters November 27, just in time for Thanksgiving weekend. Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen inspires the film, with the characters trying to save their kingdom, Arendelle, from eternal winter.
Santino Fontana, an accomplished Broadway actor, is the voice of Hans. For us Washingtonians, he also happens to hail from the small town of Richland, in the Tri-Cities. Before he heads to Los Angeles for FROZEN’s World Premiere at the El Capitan Theatre, I sat down with Mr. Fontana to get the details on Disney’s newest film.
You have done a lot of acting work on stage and in television/movies, but this is your first animated character. What did you like about being animated?
I loved the recording sessions for FROZEN. In a lot of ways it was almost more rewarding than in other mediums because you are completely relieved of having to make any editorial decisions. So I got to play a scene 10, 12, 20 different ways and not worry about what the best way was. It was really liberating. I got to be nothing but a creative generator of ideas. And then look forward to seeing it all come together later.
Tell us a little about your character, Hans.
One of the amazing things about FROZEN is how complex all the characters are. And Hans is no exception. Hans is not all that different from Anna, Kristen Bell's character; someone born into royalty, but alone, and not really fitting in. He changes a lot throughout the movie in exciting and surprising ways, too.
What will children and their parents love about FROZEN?
Well, it looks gorgeous. The story is so moving and compelling and funny and filled with these amazing action sequences. And the songs written by Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez are amazing. It's an epic action adventure story about family overcoming all odds. There's something for everyone.
You currently play a prince in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella on Broadway, which is very different from Disney’s version. Did you feel that there were any similarities/differences between FROZEN’s Prince Hans and Cinderella’s Prince Topher?
At their core, they're both guys trying to become who they think they should be. And for both, the stakes are super high and they put a lot of pressure on themselves. But how they go about getting what they want is very different as are the kinds of kings they want to be. That's part of why FROZEN was so fun, because of the inherent differences between Topher and Hans.
What is your character’s connection with Anna (Kristen Bell’s character) in the movie?
When we meet it's as if we're looking at everything we've ever needed. We're both pretty certain it's true love.
You have a duet with Kristen Bell on the soundtrack called “Love is an Open Door” – did you record that separately or together in the studio?
We recorded together in LA. We have the same manager and had met at an event previously, but that was the first time we ever really spoke to each other. She was eight months pregnant at the time, too.
Did you get to work with the other actors or did you do most of the recording work solo?
I only worked once with Kristen. I flew to LA while we were in previews for Cinderella and we recorded our duet together, "Love Is An Open Door"; a song I am predicting will be sung at weddings and karaoke bars alike!
What was your reaction when you saw the film? Is it a surreal experience to be a part of a Disney film?
Yes! The first time I saw it was incredibly surreal. Seeing my voice come out of someone else was crazy. And as Hans says in the movie, "I love crazy," but this was too much. I was also seeing it with just the cast, most of whom I'd just met for the first time. The second time I saw it was with a huge audience and that time I was really able to take it all in and I was really moved by the sisters' stories and was blown away by just how awesomely it all comes together. Chris and Jen (the directors) and Peter and Lasseter (the producers) really outdid themselves. And it's so funny. So, so funny.
What will the audience come away with?
I really think there's something for everyone in FROZEN. And what those exact things are, well, you'll just have to go see it to find out!
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