ABOUT THE FILM
How do you tell one of the most famous stories ever recorded and bring it to the
screen in a fresh, new way? This was the challenge facing the filmmakers behind
The Star, AFFIRM Films and Sony Pictures Animation's family film about the
events leading up to the very first Christmas.
"It's the Nativity story from the point of view of the animals, and in this
film, we follow Bo, who is the donkey that carries Mary and Joseph to
Bethlehem," explains director Timothy Reckart.
"We looked at it as the greatest story never told," kids executive producer
DeVon Franklin. Having previously produced the faith-based hit Miracles from
Heaven and overseen the blockbuster Heaven Is for Real as an executive at
Columbia Pictures, Franklin was inspired to translate the meaning of the story
beyond the literal telling into a journey about the choices we all make in our
daily lives that have an impact and, eventually, fit into the framework of the
human story at the heart of it all. "It says a lot about teamwork, stepping
outside of their own somewhat narrow perspectives and working together. Our
hero, Bo the donkey, needs all of the other animals to help to become
successful. It's also about hope-you've got to believe in the impossible for it
"It's about how something that seems small can be bigger than it looks on the
outside. Bo has been looking to do something important, and he starts seeking
that in a self-aggrandizing way," says Reckart. "Along the journey, by doing a
small thing - helping these two people, which, for all he knows, are just some
random couple - he winds up doing the most important thing he could ever
achieve. Greatness comes in the most humble appearance, which is the message of
the Christmas story itself."
It was the world's familiarity with the story that excited the director. "Most
people have some knowledge of it, and that presents a wonderful opportunity,"
says Reckart. "Of course, the challenge is that people may feel that they know
the story, they've seen it. But we can make the most of it by letting some of
those elements take place off-screen, and look at what might have been going on
in the background, or ask questions like 'What were the camels doing at that
moment?' That awareness of the story allows us to veer off into the corners and
shine a light onother things going on and tellnew stories in the midst of the
"We found opportunities for fun and invention," says Franklin. "Audiences aren't
coming for the documentary or the historical exposition - they're coming for
enjoyment and creativity. I think we found ways to present Mary and Joseph as
recognizable characters who laugh, who are afraid, who find themselves at the
center of this amazing story and display their humanity throughout it all."
ABOUT THE MUSIC
Grammy winner Mariah Carey wrote and performs the title track for The Star's
soundtrack, which is also loaded with music from some of today's top artists.
"What would a Christmas movie be without Christmas music?" says DeVon Franklin.
The soundtrack for the film features a compilation of Christmas classics old and
new that not only perfectly fit the film, but make the perfect soundtrack for
Leading the way is Mariah Carey. One of the most popular and acclaimed
performers of all time, with multiple Grammy Awards, 20 World Music Awards, 11
American Music Awards, 32 Billboard Music Awards, and 18 #1 hits - a record for
a female solo artist - Carey's love for the season is well-known and reflected
in her two bestselling Christmas albums. For "The Star," the lead single and
title track for the film, Carey reteamed with Marc Shaiman, a Grammy-, Emmy-,
and Tony-winner whose five Oscar nominations show his range - they include nods
for his original songs "A Wink and a Smile" from Sleepless in Seattle and "Blame
Canada" from South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. With Carey, Shaiman
previously co-wrote and co-produced tracks for Carey's album "Merry Christmas II
You." Carey also recorded, along with Whitney Houston, "When You Believe," the
Academy Award winner for Best Original Song for The Prince of Egypt.
"Mariah Carey is nothing less than a living legend. That's why, from day one,
when we talked about the music, the number one name was Mariah Carey," Franklin
continues. "Now, we can all dream, but when Mariah said yes to the film, all of
us were excited and we were shocked - as much as we thought it would be great,
you don't always get your first choice.She came to the studio with Marc
Shaiman and I showed them a few scenes from the movie.Well, as soon as I
finish showing them the scenes, they go into a booth with a piano and start
writing.Less than 48 hours later, Mariah calls and says, 'Can you come down to
the studio?We've finished the song.'When I heard it, it is truly one of the
most inspirational songs I have ever heard.And that is the power of Mariah
Carey and Marc Shaiman. She felt the inspiration of the film: there still is
hope if we only look up."
"This song is going to inspire you; it is going to bring you hope," says
Franklin. "I don't think I've ever heard a Mariah Carey song like this."
"The song was inspired by the beautiful way in which the story of Christmas is
told in the film," says Carey. "I thought about the star of Bethelhem while
writing this song, but also about following your heart, following your dreams."
"I've loved Christmas since I was a kid," Carey continues, "even when we didn't
have any money and my mother would wrap fruit for a Christmas gift. It wasn't
about the gift - I just loved the spirit of Christmas."
"When Mariah Carey walks in a room, you know 'a star' has arrived," says Shaiman.
"But when it came time to co-write our song for The Star, she became only a
great songwriter intent on getting her love of Christmas into the words and
music. And when our song was complete, she proceeded to sing a thrilling vocal,
filled with that passion. It was my honor to be able to share and help
illuminate her joy."
The soundtrack is rounded out by Christmas songs from many of today's top acts.
Fifth Harmony joins with "Can You See," another original song for the movie.
Among the Christmas classics, Kirk Franklin performs a reinterpretation of "We
Three Kings," Casting Crowns turn in "His Eye Is on the Sparrow," and Yolanda
Adams records "O Holy Night."
ABOUT THE CHARACTERS AND THE VOICE CAST
"Watching this cast work was really inspiring. The thing that really surprised
me was how each of these artists approached their particular roles," says
Reckart. Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, and Tracy Morgan all became the perfect
counterpoints to each other - Tyler as the self-appointed leader who thinks he's
smarter than he actually is; Tracy as hisbelligerent,hilarious brother; and
Oprah as the wise camel who is the only one who may actually see what's going
on. Kelly Clarkson plays her sleep-deprived horse in a way we can all recognize
- like it's2 a.m., you're hanging with your friends, and suddenly everything is
hilariousin a way it isn't in the mid-afternoon.The actors all made these
characters leap off the page."
BO (Steven Yeun)
Small donkey, big dreams
He's a pint-sized donkey who wholeheartedly believes he is destined for a bigger
purpose...greatness awaits him outside the mill walls!
Steven Yeun of "The Walking Dead" brings to life this little donkey with a big
heart. "Even though Bo is in a pretty dire situation, he's pretty hopeful," he
says. "He has really large dreams. But as his plans start to go awry, he starts
to doubt himself and take back all of that ambition he started with... but the
universe will tell him in other ways that he's just as important as he ever
thought he was. He finds something within himself bigger than anything he ever
It's a role that Yeun could recognize. "Bo is an underdog," he says. "He
sometimes puts limitations on himself. I saw that in myself - I was an immigrant
to this country, and there were limitations that I would place on myself based
on what I saw. Bo comes to a full realization that he has much more potential
than he thinks he has, and that's something I very much relate to."
"I think Bo is a lot like us," says Reckart. "He's a character that dreams of
doing something remarkable, and he knows in his heart that he's meant to do
something great. I feel everyone has a conviction that they are here to do
something, that they're here for a reason. Bo's just trying to figure out
what. He starts out with a mistaken idea of what that is, but through his
journey, he finds his purpose. On top of everything else that this story does,
I feel thatdrive and thatindividual searchfor purposewill resonate with
MARY (Gina Rodriguez)
Bravely embraces her destiny
A strong, confident, and optimistic young woman who always treats others with
love and kindness-especially Bo.
Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez, the star of "Jane the Virgin," plays the
role. She says that while you might think it would be intimidating to play a
role like Mary, she turned for inspiration to the greatest role models in her
life. "I think Mary's strength exists in all women, so I pulled from my own
life, from the women around me who show that kind of strength every day," she
says. "I played her like the way my mother walks and talks, and the way my
sisters are with their children."
Rodriguez was also inspired in her performance by her grandmother's faith. "I've
been researching this role my whole life, growing up in a very Catholic
household with a grandmother who was not only super faithful, but lived by the
faith and gave it to others."
JOSEPH (Zachary Levi)
A humble carpenter, loyal husband, and friend to Mary, and understandably
anxious about the extraordinary task before him.
Zachary Levi (Tangled) says that the roles of Bo and Joseph are on similar
tracks. "They're on separate journeys, but they've both strong-willed and
independent spirits," he says. "At first, they don't exactly endear themselves
to each other, but as they are forced together, they break each other down -
their hearts soften. Joseph begins to realize that Bo is a real hero who would
do everything he can, including potentially saving Joseph and Mary's lives, and
DAVE (Keegan-Michael Key)
The wise-cracking best friend
A dove with a big personality and Bo's only friend. He knows that the Royal
Caravan is the place for a bird like him - if only he can keep Bo on track!
"Keegan-Michael Key brought so much energy and heart to Dave," says Reckart.
"The 'dance of the royal dove,' which is one of my favorite scenes, was built
around some scat singing that Keegan completely improvised. He scatted for two
minutes straight. It was amazing! All of us were holding our breath because we
didn't want to ruin the take!"
RUTH (Aidy Bryant)
Fluffy, friendly and flocky
An adorably smart and helpful sheep who left her flock to follow the new star in
the sky. Now that she has a new friend who also thinks the star is special, she
hopes to follow it together.
THADDEUS (Ving Rhames) & RUFUS (Gabriel Iglesias)
Vicious palace dogs
Thaddeus is focused on the mission. Rufus is focused on his next meal. Both are
intent on hunting down Mary, Joseph, and Bo.
"Ving Rhames and Gabriel Iglesias make such a great comedic odd couple," says
Reckart. "Ving has this deep, slow voice that's so commanding, and in
comparison, Gabriel is practically chirping his lines, dancing around with this
manic energy. They're very fun to watch together."
CYRUS (Tyler Perry), FELIX (Tracy Morgan), DEBORAH (Oprah Winfrey)
The three not-so-wise camels
Cyrus is a know-it-all, Felix is not sure if he knows anything, and Deborah is
the one actually paying attention. These three will do more than just carry the
"The Star is one of the coolest ways of telling this story, because it's so
fun," says Perry. "Just when I thought there was no other way to be able to tell
the story of Christmas and the birth of Christ, here comes this incredibly
genius idea to tell it through the eyes of a camel. It's very true to the
scripture, but approaches the story in a fresh, fun way that will make it
entertaining and inspiring for audiences of all ages."
"What makes this movie so unique is that it's told with such humor - it is
delightful," says Winfrey. "I grew up going to Sunday school and know all of
these stories very well, but I've never seen it expressed this way. If nothing
else, I think it's wonderful for families to be able to come together for an
experience of being with each other and being inspired through joy and
Winfrey and Perry both say they were inspired to join the cast by being part of
a trio with Morgan. "The three of us playing these roles, playing off each
other, worked well because it was great chemistry," says Perry. "Who doesn't
love Tracy Morgan? He's hysterical. And Oprah's one of the funniest people -
she's always so serious, but she's very funny. I'm telling you, she could have
been a stand-up comedian - she is that funny."
LEAH (Kelly Clarkson), ZACH (Anthony Anderson)
& EDITH (Patricia Heaton)
These animals are anything but stable
Residents of the most famous stable in history who haven't been able to sleep
for nine months - ever since that star appeared in the sky. Zach the Goat is
nervous and paranoid, Edith the Cow is cool and just wants some peace, and Leah
the Horse thinks the beauty of the spotlight is worth missing some sleep.
Grammy Award winner Kelly Clarkson, who plays Leah, says that playing a
character suffering from a lack of sleep was maybe not a huge stretch. "I have
four children, so I'm sleep deprived," she kids. "Also, it was cool to be able
to play a horse - I own a horse, because my daughter is an equestrian. It felt
like the right time to play a Southern Belle who hadn't had sleep in nine
For Clarkson, it was gratifying to play a character in a story about faith. "For
me personally, it's so important - without faith, it would be a very lonely
life," she says. "I have to have faith in something bigger, the majestic world
around us. And that's what all of these characters are looking for - they're all
looking to be part of something greater than themselves."
"I was so surprised when I read the script, because it was funny while still
honoring this wonderful, timeless story," says Heaton. "There's adventure and a
lot of action - I think the writers did an amazing job of bringing a completely
new viewpoint to a story we all love and have heard all our lives."
And The Star may just be what we all need this season, Heaton continues. "It's
easy, as we all know, to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the Christmas
season," she says. "It's fun, it's festive, but it can get to be overwhelming.
So to be able to go to the theater with your entire family - from grandparents
to the little ones and everybody in-between - and just relax and enjoy this new
telling of this story is a great break for everyone to bond."
KING HEROD (Christopher Plummer)
A king, threatened and deadly
Contemptuous ruler of Judea determined to destroy the coming newborn King and
ruin the first Christmas.
ABBY (Kristin Chenoweth)
Small mouse with a big mouth
After unexpectedly being present for the moment that started it all, this little
mouse has a big tale to tell.
The Tony and Emmy Award-winner Kristin Chenoweth says that in some ways she's
just like her murine counterpart. "She's little - I can relate to that. She's
got an interesting speaking voice - I can relate to that as well. But when she
just happens on this big secret, what does she do with it? Does she keep it
inside? No, she runs and tells the whole town. I admire that about Abby, how
different she is from me. I know it seems like I have a big mouth and won't shut
up, but I have a tendency to go into a corner and keep things to myself. There's
a part of me that wishes I had a megaphone instead of feeling shy or
OLD DONKEY (Kris Kristofferson)
Life in a mill isn't so bad...
A curmudgeon and longtime worker at the mill - he wants Bo to stop wasting time
with big dreams. But, there is something about the little donkey that even the
hardest heart can't resist.
ELIZABETH (Delilah) and ZECHARIAH (Joel McCrary)
Surprised and doting parents
Mary's plain-talking cousin and her affable husband who were surprised with a
baby of their own, John.
"Elizabeth is Mary's older cousin and a mama herself," says Delilah. "It's her
job to convince Mary to have a very difficult conversation with Joseph. She's an
encourager - Mary is going through a very tough time in her life, and Elizabeth
is there to tell her that she needs to get honest with Joseph."
CASPAR (Joel Osteen)
One of the wisest of men
Having traveled far across the land to be there to greet the new king, Caspar
and his two traveling companions can't believe they went to the wrong place.
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