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THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG

Animation And Acting
Classic Character Animation and Inspired Voice Talent Bring a New Cast of Characters to Life

"The Princess and the Frog” marks the 49th time that an animation "casting call” has gone out from Disney to the stars and stalwarts of Hollywood, but unlike their live-action counterparts, Disney animated features use two primary performers for each individual onscreen role: the hand of the artist and the voice of an actor. For the voice of the film's leading lady, Tiana, the filmmakers called on Tony Award® winner Anika Noni Rose, who fulfills a lifelong ambition with the role.

"I can honestly say that this is a dream come true for me. Since I was a little kid I wanted to work for Disney—and I didn't need to be the princess. I would have been a tick or a flea! "I'm glad that I was able to be here at the right time for this to happen,” the actress continues. "It's a blessing, an honor and a joy.”

Supervising animator Mark Henn is the other half of Tiana's persona, and his opinions and ideas about Disney princesses are not just academic, they are personally informed. He is variously kidded as "The Actor's Studio Animator,” and Disney's greatest leading lady—having animated (among other characters) Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas and Mulan.

"I find myself an actor trying to put myself in all of my characters' shoes, whether it's a female, or a lion cub, or a mouse, or whatever,” Henn says. "There's a level of the integrity of how the characters move and are genuine. I think particularly with the leading ladies it's important.”

The prince in "THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG” takes center stage like never before. This prince is on a journey of discovery all his own and Bruno Campos was tapped to give Naveen his voice. "He's got some issues,” says Campos of his character. "He's got a lot of sass. He's got some wit. He can be a little feisty, but he grows throughout the movie.”

Thanks to Campos and Randy Haycock, supervising animator for Prince Naveen and Frog Naveen, the prince comes to the big screen with enough charisma to wow audiences worldwide. "I had a roommate in college who liked the ladies, you know,” says Haycock. "I used to watch him, because he was really good with the girls and I wasn't, and I noticed that he was a leaner. He was always leaning in, he always got really close. If girls were sitting on a chair, he'd sit next to them and he'd lean in. If they were standing, he'd find something to lean on. I always have Naveen leaning on his hand or leaning on something because that's that confidence, you know, he's not stiff at all. He's very loose, because he's very cool and confident about who he is.

"The funny thing is,” continues Haycock, "whereas he looks very charming and kind of seductive as a human, it's almost comical to make him a frog. It adds a layer of humor to his character—the fact that this goofy-looking frog thinks of himself as a ladies' man.” In Disney animation, the villain is usually the great motivation in the story—escaping from, vanquishing or humiliating the villain is the heroic task.

Supervising animator Bruce Smith tried not to be intimidated by the importance of the Dr. Facilier role. "I try to let that sit in the back of my head, because I don't want to put that type of pressure on myself. But at the same time, that's why I'm here. To feel that type of pressure, and to be able to have a position where you want to rise to that occasion. I always knew I had it in me personally. You know, I totally can do a villain, and give it a different take that maybe our audiences have not really experienced or seen before.”

His performance was certainly supported and elevated by the vocal vibrancy of the prolific and talented actor Keith David, who was drawn to the character…as if by magic. "One of the characters I've always wanted to

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