There are many wonderful surprises in the upcoming animation Coco. One of them is that Benjamin Bratt Sings His Heart Out In Disney-Pixar Coco! What a way to seize your moment! As we sat down to talk with the actor and now also singer about his “Ernesto de la Cruz” role, we spoke about traditions, legacy, and of course singing.I was invited by Disney to the Coco press trip and premiere. All opinions shared are 100% my own.
Benjamin Bratt Sings His Heart Out In Disney-Pixar Coco
To a round of applause we welcomes Benjamin Bratt to our table for an exclusive Disney-Pixar Coco interview. He appreciated the warm welcome, and stated telling us that he felt great because he had gone to the most “remarkable premiere” the night before. As he beamed, he said “I’ve been around the block a little bit and that was probably the most spectacular, most heartwarming, most fun premier I’ve ever been to. I mean where else can you be greeted by a mariachi band and folkloric dancers? The whole thing was a celebration from start to finish. I was rocked, were you? I sure was!
Fun fact: the movie premiere was the first time Benjamin Bratt watched the film in its entirety. Just like me, I had been blown away by the first 30 minutes 🙂
Benjamin Bratt’s Impressions on Coco
“I think I was most struck by the beauty of the artistry. It’s such a beautiful film to look at. And then when you add like that technical expertise to the emotional depth of the film and what it delivers at the end, there’s no other word for it, and powerful. It was a really powerful result”.
From the start he was impacted by the film. He explains that when he was explained what the film was about at Pixar, he was taken to “this room that, from floor to ceiling on every wall was covered in Mexican iconography, Day of the Dead colors and images and some of the characters that were drawn, illustrated that they were going to portray in the film. [That]surprised me because it was in that moment that I recognized these beautiful brown faces. They looked like people I know, the people I come from. It underscored the fact that that portrayal hasn’t been done yet on this kind of scale. In a way, it reintroduces who we are as a people in our uniqueness but also in our sameness to everyone else in the world”.
Ernesto de la Cruz, larger than life dead and alive
Big celebrities from the past like Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete, Vicente Fernandez or the very macho telenovela lead star came to mind as I enjoyed Ernesto de la Cruz on screen. How did Benjamin Bratt draw inspiration for this larger than life de la Cruz? He tells us:“I had never seen a film with Pedro Infante or Jorge Negrete. I was loosely aware of the Vicente Fernandez’s music. But after Lee and Adrian shared with me that those are the people in real life that they were drawing on for this character I went out to YouTube, of course, and studied a lot of it. And what I realized was that, there’s real star power. They were like the Mexican versions of Frank Sinatra. Someone who is as adored for his musical ability as he was for his movie star magnetism. And that doesn’t happen to everyone. Not everyone possesses that set of talent or that particular personal chemistry. So, I just thought okay, I’ll just try to be larger-than-life. That is an even more difficult trick to do it just vocally, you know. Thank God, they draw the guy. That’s a good-looking skeleton. His hair was perfect”.
Benjamin Bratt Sings His Heart Out In Disney-Pixar Coco!
I was blown away the first time I heard him at D23 Expo. As the voice of the larger than life, dead and alive Ernesto de la Cruz you are in for a treat!
Fun fact: Benjamin Bratt admires singers and has always wanted to one. He would give his left toe to be a balladeer like Marc Anthony, to him a phenomenal, powerful singer who he admires immensely.
The big question was where did he get those pipes? He reflects and shares that “Singing translates across all language, all cultures because a beautiful voice is a beautiful voice. I don’t possess one when it comes to singing. So, when I was offered the role, I thought it was a bit ironic that I was meant to play the most, you know, famous singer and musician in Mexican history. I had a little chuckle for myself. And then, of course, I became immediately terrified”. He worked with with Liz Kaplan who’s the instructor, mentor to the stars in a New York. He feels the first few sessions were horrible. You will have a hard time believing that. In the end, he recorded everyone of Ernesto de la Cruz song, and chose to seize his moment this way!Did Benjamin Bratt Need Tissues Watching Coco?
It is highly recommended to bring tissues to watch Coco. Did Benjamin Bratt bring some? We are not sure. One thing is for certain, a handful of moments did affect him. This triggered him to share his favorite scene in the movie. It is the one in which Edward J Olmos shows us what it is to finally die, the final death. He elaborates “It’s expository but it also, it just punches you right in the heart because you realize, oh, wait a second, if we don’t stay connected to where we come from, we don’t remember our antepasados, the people who came before us, that’s it, we’re finally moving on to where, who knows. But it’s probably not a good place because you not supported by people in the land of the living”.
How Coco transcends Latin Culture
Day of the dead is not a tradition he follows because his Latin roots come from his Peruvian mother (day of the dead is a Mexican celebration). That said, as a latino, he goes on to illustrate:”The general population takes the mistake of seeing Latino culture as monolithic, we are not. That said, there is connective tissue that really makes us understand one another, whether Mexicano, or Peruano or Colombiano. Part of that is the language of course. Part of that is the religion. Very much a part of that is the history of colonization that took place where you mix the indigenous blood with Spanish blood creating a Mestizos race. But a lot of it is easier to identify and relate to. And that’s this notion of family and the importance of staying connected and family first and the little dichos (means “sayings”) that are shared in the kitchen and the importance of food. How there’s a celebration of food for everything, and the presence and the threat of the chancleta. Any Latino who grew up with an Abuela, who has a mother of a certain age, you know what the chancleta (flip flops or slippers) means”.
How Benjamin Bratt would like to be remembered
After watching Coco it is impossible not to think about one’s legacy.
“If I am to be remembered at all I would hope it would be for, for my kindness or my generosity, for the love that lives in my heart for people that I hold near and dear. And for someone who tried to live his life with integrity. Oh, and he’s pretty fun, too. He was a fun guy”.
ABOUT DISNEY- PIXAR’S COCO