This Friday sees the release of Disney’s 50th animated movie in the form of Tangled. The movie has done very well in the US and we’re very much looking forward to the release here in the UK. Daniel already caught up with Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi in the US (check out his interview here) but just last week he got to speak with the directors of the movie, Nathan Greno & Byron Howard to talk about how it came into being and more about what we can expect from it.

If you’ve not seen the trailer, you can view it here and our review of the movie can be read right here!


HeyUGuys: Can we start by asking why the name was changed from Rapunzel to Tangled?

Nathan Greno: That’s a very good question and it’a a very fair question. There’s a tradition to name the movie after the Princess at Disney. I think when we first started out, Byron and I thought it would be structured like Cinderella where there’s Cinderella and then a Prince that pops into the movie once in a while but as we were developing the film, and in order to tell the story well, Rapunzel needed to get out into this world. So she needed to meet a guy to take her to where she’s going. We created Flynn Ryder and soon realised, the more we put these two together in the movie, the better the movie was becoming. There was this real chemistry between Flynn and Rapunzel and they were really funny together.  Every time they were together on screen, the movie would brighten up and lighten up and even become more fun.

About half way though the process we sat back and had done a few screenings for the crew. And I don’t remember which one of us decided but we wondered, is this the right title for this movie? We always like to challenge what we have and I think that makes for a better show. We were thinking about Toy Story; you wouldn’t called Toy Story ‘Buzz Lightyear’. It doesn’t really represent the movie. And we thought, are we representing the movie? The movie doesn’t work without Rapunzel but equally it doesn’t work without Flynn. He’s such a big part of the movie, it’s a duo.

So we challenged the members of our crew and thought if it doesn’t work we’ll just keep the name Rapunzel. There were some other truly some awful titles but someone sent in the name ‘Tangled’.  And I circled Tangled and I went to see Byron to find he’d done the same thing so it was kind of weird but I guess that’s why we work together well!  So that was both of our favourites and it really represented the movie, it’s the hair, it’s the relationship and I think when you see the movie, you’ll really get it.

HeyUGuys: It’s been reported that Tangled is the second most expensive movie ever made after Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End at $260m. Does that put on an awful amount of pressure to you as directors?

Byron Howard: The nice thing is they do keep the finances away from us. They don’t really tell us how much this is costing. John Lasseter is great, he’ll just say ‘go and make a great movie, make a movie that you’d be proud of and one that’s going to last and live forever’ and that’s a challenge in itself. That’s great too though because it gives us the licence in the story-room to do unbelievably difficult things. Like what we did with Rapunzel’s hair and the actions sequences which are monumentally difficult but in the end they make these movies so much more epic and emotional. It helps us have the power to challenge our crew to really over-deliver and that’s what John has really always been about. That’s why Pixar movies are so great and we feel like this film is really hitting with people because we try and give people more than they could expect from this movie.

They are expensive to make. We have a crew of 600 people working on it working from anywhere between 2 and four years and this one was done in two years. It was done on an incredibly tight schedule and our crew worked themselves to the bone but they’re so proud of what they accomplished. Now that the film is out, you always hope that it’s going to be well received with the public and the fact that the public has embraced it so heartedly and the box office has been fantastic is a great feeling for us. People are not only going to see it once but taking their families back again and again.

HeyUGuys: Mandy and Zach had great chemistry together but didn’t record at the same time. How do you get that chemistry when they’re not actually together?

Nathan Greno: One of the best compliments we’ve gotten is the fact that people can’t believe they didn’t record together. Because their chemistry is so great on screen and yet they really… I think it was probably a while before they even met each other. The way it comes together is really our job, to get a good performance our of them. We know the story so well, by the time they come in to record. And we encourage them to try different takes, they do a million of all of them! Then we go to the editorial room and we start cutting it together and it takes FOREVER to put one of these movies together!

It depends on the person too. Everyone works differently and with Mandy, she wanted someone to act with her to help her. Zach didn’t want that as much, he would do it on his own. Donna Murphy would always want to read through the script a few times of what we were going to record. Our job is to keep the goal in sight and to get all the people to move towards that.

HeyUGuys: How do you work together as directors? Do you ever clash?

Byron Howard: We really have good chemistry, we’re really good friends but mainly I don’t have a lot of ego, neither of us do. I don’t mind if it’s my idea or his idea. A great idea can come from anywhere where it be from the crew or from our families. It’s all about making the film better and that’s always the deciding factor, no matter who came up with it, it’s always, what’s going to serve the story best. This relates to everything including what colour should her dress be, will the horse talk and it makes our relationship with us and the crew pretty smooth.

HeyUGuys: Where do you think Rapunzel ranks with all the other Disney Princesses?!

Nathan Greno: The Best!!  (everyone laughs!). I think she’s a product of her time and I think if this movie came out in the 1940’s, it would be somewhat shocking. If you look at Cinderella and those characters, they feel more passive and feel like softer characters but that’s just a product of their time. I think it’s hard to rank them. If they were all made in the last couple of years it would be more fair.

When we were putting this movie together, we thought ‘who is Rapunzel and what should she be’? We thought she’s a role model in a very real way. My two little nieces dress up like the Disney Princesses and that’s not an isolated thing, that’s happening all over the world. We really wanted to create a modern woman. Make her really smart, artistic and she’s not waiting around for her Prince to rescue her. She’s stuck in the tower because she’s been manipulated to the point where she cant get out of it. When she seens the opportunity in Flynn Ryder, she’s the one who’s driving that sort of forward.

HeyUGuys: Tangled is the 50th animated film, do you think they’ll hit 100?

Byron Howard: I hope so! The fact this film did well makes me hopeful (laughs!). It’s great. We have high hopes for the studio, and people are getting better at making these films. You see films like this getting better with Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon, so it’s not just our studio, all studios are finding out what makes a better movie. Expectations on how good they are are going up up and up and it’s exciting.

We have a lot of different directors at Disney and they all have different ideas on what they want to make. The stuff that’s in development is really varied. It’s not just fairy-tails,  it’s not just things you’re familiar with, it’s things that are original and that’s healthy for a studio, variety is good.

HeyUGuys: What’s next for you two?

Nathan Greno: We pitched six ideas to John Lasseter a few months back and there were two ideas he liked a lot. And this is the brilliance of John Lasseter… I don’t think we’d have ever thought of it but he said why don’t you smushed those two ideas together and made one movie out of that and we thought ‘WOW, that would be really different’.

It’s not a classic story bringing back to life, it’s completey different but it will feel like a Disney movie. This is something we’re very aware of. It’s a lot like Tangled. It’s going to be a big action comedy with a lot of heart. If you like Tangled, we think you’ll like this too.


Thanks to Nathan Greno & Byron Howard for their time. Tangled is released in cinemas this Friday, 28th January.