Zootopia+ is a fantastic short form series that allows the wild creatures of Zootopia a chance to shine. The series is currently streaming on Disney+, and in conjunction with the release I was lucky enough to attend the press conference and hear firsthand about this new series from the creative team and talented voice actors.
The following conversations have been edited for length a clarity.
Moderator: Lisa Cabello
Bonnie Hunt / voice of Bonnie Hopps, “Hopp on Board”
Don Lake / voice of Stu Hopps, “Hopp on Board”
Josie Trinidad / Director
Trent Correy / Director
Nathan Curtis / Producer
Elyssa Samsel / Songwriter, “Big Time” (“Duke the Musical”)
Kate Anderson / Songwriter, “Big Time” (“Duke the Musical”)
What inspired the idea for the series?
Director Trent Correy: I thought, what a rich world I wanna go back to. All of my favorite characters in Zootopia are Mr. Big and Duke Weaselton and Stu and Bonnie Hopps. I just wanted to revisit the world. And in the movie, the movie’s so great, but you only get little snippets with these characters. So, I just thought, there’s gotta be more to mine there.
What was it like playing Bonnie Hopp as an action hero?
Bonnie Hunt: It was so fun. When you’re working with talent like Nathan, Josie, and Trent, you’re just so lucky. You know you’ve got the safety net of good story, good intentions, and quality of character. I think of every parent as an action hero. I don’t have any of my own children, but I have 15 nieces and nephews. I’ve seen when the one-year-old gets too close to the top of the steps, I’ve seen my sisters turn into action heroes. [laughs] Moving faster than they’ve ever moved and lifting things they never thought they could ever lift to push things out of the way. I think all parents can relate to it, when Molly gets on the train. It’s fun to play something that’s intelligent and kind and full of humor. It’s a privilege. I’m so lucky to be here with Don, too. It’s a great ping pong game with Don.
What do you enjoy most about returning to the role of Stu Hopps?
Don Lake: Well, obviously getting to work with Bonnie again. You know, we’ve known each other for so long. We’re such dear friends that we kind of can finish each other’s sentences. You just know that we’re going down this road and we don’t have to say anything. We just go down that road and we just explore and have fun. There’s kind of a built-in relationship that is so cool. I love their relationship.
Can you tell us about the process of creating the musical number “Big Time” with the episode “Duke: The Musical”?
Elyssa Samsel: We had the privilege of cowriting this song, “Big Time,” with Michael Giacchino. I gotta say, when he called and said that there was this opportunity to write a musical number for the character Duke Weaselton, we were just so bowled over with joy. When we first started writing, Michael had sent us first records and a beautiful melody to begin the song.
Kate Anderson: Trent and Josie came to us with no shortage of amazing ideas of how to have Duke go on this crazy journey where he’s imagining what “Big Time” would mean for him. Of course, because he is this little small-time crook, we thought it was kinda funny that he would start sort of small-time with his dreams. Like, “I’ll be a used car salesman.” And you know, of course, all along the way he’s finding these ways to turn these careers into little trickster, very Duke-esque, his own take on these careers.
From there, he would dream of being a lawyer, which he has definitely had his own run ins with the law. And then a surgeon, but he’d be doing something illegal on the side. Finally, he has this world takeover as he builds this rocket and soars to the moon. But then, you know, gets pulled down by everybody. We just had so much fun coming up with the Duke version of all of those different career paths. We had a great time working with the whole team to come up with all the jokes and all the visuals that would be going along with that. It became this very Busby Berkeley-inspired thing within this Queen, rock style. It was just a blast.
Zootopia+ is available to stream on Disney+.
Big film nerd and TCM Obsessed. Author of The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema from Schiffer Publishing. Resume includes: AMC’s The Bite, Scream Magazine etc. Love all kinds of movies and television and have interviewed a wide range of actors, writers, producers and directors. I currently am a regular co-host on the podcast The Humanoids from the Deep Dive and have a second book in the works from Bear Manor.