Special thanks to Disney/Pixar for hosting me on this amazing trip to cover the press junket for CARS 3.

We got the interview list prior to the CARS 3 event and I noticed something that I hadn’t seen before; we were interviewing the actors who were part of the film in groups of four. In every other press trip I’ve been in we’ve either interviewed an individual or a couple from whatever film it was we were promoting. “Well, this ought to be interesting,” I thought to myself. Interesting doesn’t even cut it. Entertaining. Hilarious. Interesting to say the least. I mean what else would you expect from Owen Wilson, Kerry Washington, Cristela Alonzo and Armie Hammer?

Kerry, Armie, Cristela, Owen
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at the “Cars 3” Press Conference at Anaheim Convention Center on June 10, 2017 in Anaheim, California.

Question: How did you become part of the film?

Cristela Alonzo: I was on my way to do a stand up tour in Canada, and I got a call from my agent asking me if I wanted to go to Pixar. They didn’t tell me anything. They’re just like, “Do you want to go to Pixar?”  I’m like, “Well that’s a random question, but yes.” They flew me up to Pixar. I had no idea I was being considered for anything. I didn’t know anything until I got there, and then they made me sign papers and I’m like, “What am I doing?” …it wasn’t until they gave me a tour and then they sat me down in an office and broke down this Cruz character. Immediately I thought, “Wait a minute, this is a job interview? I would have dressed up better for you. I’m wearing my Target vest, but still.” I started working with the film in November of 2015…Whoever think you’re going to be part of the Pixar world?

Kerry Washington: I got a call much, much later. [Kerry then made the time dissolve gesture that Wayne and Garth from Saturday Night Live used to do.] There was a role to play… a super know it all, bossy pants character, [who was] super arrogant, so would I be willing to go way against type? I said, “Yeah, I’m up for the challenge.” I just, honestly I’ve been a fan of this franchise for a long time and just was honored to be a part of it and excited to do something that my kids could watch…because they don’t watch SCANDAL, it’s very inappropriate. [She was joking and laughing right now.]

Cristela, Kerry, Owen 2
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Photo courtesy of Louise Bishop/MomStart.com

OwenWhat’s the question? [Then we all laughed.] Well, it was, I met John Lasseter [chief creative officer of Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, and DisneyToon Studios], was sitting next to me at a dinner… he was telling me about the sort of idea [for CARS]. I didn’t think that anything would come of it. I didn’t know who [John Lasseter] was or anything, and then it all sort of fell together and now I have this little guy. [Picks up a toy Lightning McQueen who was placed in front of him.]

CristelaYeah, you’re everywhere!

Armie: I wish I had a really good story. They called me. They said “Do you want to be in the movie?”  And I was like yup.

Kerry: [to Armie] Man, that story had drama and everything!

Armie: I really wish I could find a twist or like an angle in there, but it was really that easy.

Owen: [to Armie in a dramatic voice] You were kidnapped, brought to Pixar.  

Cristela, Kerry, Owen, Armie 2
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Photo courtesy of Louise Bishop/MomStart.com

Question: Is there a piece of the character that you play that relates to each one of you?

Armie: [said very quietly under his breath] I hope not. [Armie plays the role of “Jackson Storm” who is the antagonist of the film, a very conceited rookie racer who like to talk trash.]

CristelaI will tell you that the Cruz character started out as a boy, and they decided to make it into a female, a girl car. John Lasseter actually came into the sound booth when I was recording one day, and I thanked him for giving me the opportunity to be part of a Pixar movie. I was just telling Kerry [that] every time I talk about anything, I try to talk about where I come from, how I grew up, blah, blah, blah, I get very personal very quick. I started telling him how I just never thought this was going to be a possibility, you know? It’s like so many people tell you, especially in the kind of ‘hood that I grew up in, that you can’t do anything. Everybody in the neighborhood is very quick to knock you down a peg. So John Lasseter took that story and actually ran with it. [There is a speech that Cruz gives Lightning during the film and you’ll see this story come to life but I don’t want to spoil anything for you so I’ll just leave this here.]

Kerry: This is probably gonna seem like a stretch, because it’s such a supporting character, but one of the things [my role as Natalie Certain has] made me think a lot about is this disposable society that we live in. Natalie Certain is so sure that Storm in going to win because of the numbers. She’s just so sure and she’s certain that you can kind of discount everybody else because the hot, new thing is the way to go. I think we have to be really careful about that as a society, not just in our business but in general. 

Question: Cars has such a mentor-mentee thread running through it.  Who are your mentors, either personally or professionally?

[This is where the foursome really got silly with each other and with us. I wish you could’ve been in the room to witness it all. I’ll do my best to describe it.]

KerryWell, to be in the movie, we’ve all agreed to say that Owen is our mentor. 

Kerry, Owen
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Photo courtesy of Louise Bishop/MomStart.com

ArmieThat was a requirement for being in the movie.

OwenIt just feels good to be a mentor.

Cristela: Everyday I wake up in my bedroom and I see every movie poster that Owen’s done.    

Armie: He sent them to all of us.

CristelaI know, I know! He signed every one, “What’s your face, I love you.”

ArmieSigned, your mentor.  

Cristela, Kerry, Owen, Armie 3
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Photo courtesy of Louise Bishop/MomStart.com

There was so much to this interview that I’m going to share a part two with you next week. Don’t they look like they’re having fun? I know we all did!

Armie, Kerry, Cristela, Owen group 1
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Photo Courtesy of Louise Bishop/MomStart.com

#Cars3Event #Disneyland #SummerOfHeroes

Remember CARS 3 opens everywhere on June 16th!

Like CARS on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PixarCars/

Follow CARS 3 on Twitter: https://twitter.com/pixarcars

Follow CARS 3 on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pixarcars/

Subscribe to the Disney/Pixar YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/DisneyPixar

Visit the official CARS 3 website here: http://movies.disney.com/cars-3

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Bert Anderson is a blogger and social media manager mom of three living outside of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. She’s the author behind the blog First Time Mom, where she honestly chronicles the peaks and valleys of parenting. Even though she has more than one child, Bert maintains that whether you have one child or 19, there’s a first time for everything. She’s a lover of coffee, conversations, pop culture, healthy living and fitness.

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