Can two different species have offspring in Zootopia? Will we see them in future sequels?
We usually go back to science. We think what people got a kick out of a lot when we were making the movie is that we always went back to science. If it’s biologically possible in the real world, we probably would be able to do it.
What did Byron Howard and Rich Moore learn about animal interaction that most changed Zootopia?
When we went to Africa as part of our research trip, we were camping right next to a watering hole, where during the day animals would come in and drink together. You’d have hundreds of wildebeest and elephants and giraffe. We saw these lions come in and they drank water right next to zebra, who they usually eat and snack on. And then they looked at each other and then they went their separate ways and everything was peaceful. We thought that’s really amazing that they found a way to cooperate around something that they need. And we go that’s just like human beings. Human beings live in these cities and they have to find a way to live together. And that really inspired the whole core of what the movie became.
In Zootopia, now that Judy is involved with the mafia, how will it affect her career?
We wondered about that. Would Mr. Big go straight after this? Maybe Mr. Big has seen the err of his ways? Or maybe Judy’s now a crooked cop? We think that she is smart enough to know how to use all resources in apprehending a criminal or solving a crime, without stepping over the line. And to address her involvement with Mr. Big, when they took Weaselton to Mr. Big, Judy wasn’t a cop at that moment. She had resigned at that point in the story.
Why aren’t bunnies supposed to be called “cute” by other animals in Zootopia?
We think that’s more Judy’s personal preference. We don’t know if every bunny thinks that it’s an insult to be called cute. But we think that Judy, her whole life has been trying to do something that’s unique to a bunny, like becoming a police officer. So being called cute kind of feels like an impediment to achieving that goal. So we don’t know if it’s a universal feeling amongst bunnies but certainly with Judy, she doesn’t like to be referred as just being one of the flock.
Why does Nick wear a tie in Zootopia?
Because he is trying to put on an air of respectability. He’s casual but he knows that wearing a tie makes people respect him and animals will listen to another animals in a tie. So when he’s doing his popsicle hustle, it helps attract a mark, like it did with Judy.
In earlier versions of the movie, we had talked about the tie being Nick’s dad’s tie. Because in the early versions, Nick had a very strong bond to his dad and his dad had a very tragic backstory. And so we had different things. At one time, it was like this fedora, this hat that his dad used to wear that he loved and kept and was very sentimental about it. Then one time, it was the tie. Being seen as someone to respect is probably part of the reason he wears that tie.
How will Zootopia get incorporated into Disney parks?
Well we have BIG plans to do a whole makeover. We’re doing a whole makeover from the moment you walk in. The train at the beginning of Disneyland there, it’s going to be the Zootopia Express. Main Street is going to become Sahara Square. When we do that, we’re going to get out that statue of Walt with Mickey and put the watering hole right there in the middle. With the live stage show, Shakira’s gonna perform every night as Gazelle. It’s gonna be amazing. Every part of the park is going to be Zootopia-themed… JUST KIDDING.
In all seriousness now, there is a meet and greet opportunity with the Nick and Judy at Disneyland in California. They’re really awesome.
What were the biggest challenges of making Zootopia a reality?
We would say the biggest challenge is that it is literally the biggest world that we’ve ever created at Disney Animation. The cast was gigantic, not just our main and secondary characters, but supporting characters and background characters. There were 64 unique species in total, each one with male, female, and child, and with tons of variance within each one of those. So we were able to create hundreds of thousands of unique characters for big shots, big crowd shots. The scale. The scope and size of the place made it a huge challenge.
What was the biggest difference between Zootopia and other animated films you’d made in the past?
The scale was enormous. They keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And not every movie has to be big but there was something about the movie we were trying to put together and the story we were trying to tell with this that needed the world to be enormous. And even the fact that it was about something very complex, about bias and a really complex contemporary idea was something we think was new to us. And so we wanted to make sure that the film was saying the right thing. And the fact that people around the world really got into it and really love the way the film spoke to that issue is great for us.
What were the factors the directors took into consideration when casting Zootopia?
We had an amazing cast and we got all of our first picks for everyone who played key roles in this movie. We start with archetypes when we start to think about the characters. We think about okay well this fox has to be a charming con man and this bunny has to be a dedicated, good-hearted, determined fiery young woman who’s gonna make her mark in the world. And so then we go out and we look and we make our list. And we look at actors around the world.
And just whose personalities bring the most to the characters. We cast by type also and by personality because we really like for the actors to bring a part of them to the movie, so you can feel something of Jason Bateman in Nick and some Ginnifer Goodwin in Judy. So there’s already a mask in front of the actors because of animation, that they’re removed from the audience, we don’t wanna muddy it even further with them doing a funny voice or something that gets away from who they are as human beings.