Friday, September 18, 2015


Don Hahn Talks ‘American Experience: Walt Disney’, ‘Maleficent 2′ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’


During this exclusive interview with Collider, producer Don Hahn (who is featured in the film) talked about why it’s important to humanize Walt Disney, what it means to him to have had a hand in producing so many Disney feature films over the years, how daunting it was to bring Maleficent to life in live-action form, how they’ll approach the sequel, why it’s time to reinvent Beauty and the Beast again, whether he worries that people will get burnt out on fairy tale movies, what it was like for him to experience Disneyland as a kind, and why he thinks people stay so loyal and dedicated to the Disney company.

How daunting was it to take on something like Maleficent when people didn’t really know if you could take a character like that from animation to live-action and get people to connect with it? Did it feel as risky as it must have been?
HAHN: Yes. Linda Woolverton, the writer, and Angelina [Jolie], who I have to say was as involved, wanted to do something that was totally in the spirit of Sleeping Beauty and totally for the fans of Sleeping Beauty, but appropriate for the age we live in. There was no fear about that. There might have been fear about how we’d execute it. And that was 100% from Walt Disney. He didn’t want to do Bambi literally from the book. It was originally bought as a live-action movie at some other studio, and he’d always wanted the rights, but he wanted to do his own version of it and make it appropriate for him, as an artist. I think the key to all this stuff is that you have to be yourself. He was Walt Disney, and I’m who I am. In the case of Maleficent, Linda and Angie, especially, had a strong vision for the story. That makes my job easy ‘cause I can cheerlead and go, “Yeah, you’re right. Let’s go!” It was a real Walt Disney idea that you could mess with fairy tales. In fact, it’s our obligation to mess with fairy tales because we’re people that are alive now. I don’t know what 1955 was like.

Are you nervous about building on that for a sequel?
HAHN: It’s too early to talk about, but with any movie, you have to make it its own thing. What do you do after Toy Story? What do you do when you take The Lion King to Broadway? When we were making The Lion King, we used to laugh our butts off saying, “This would be a great ice show, or this would be great on Broadway.” Of course it is, but then, we never thought about who could possibly put it on stage. I think that unexpected leap of faith, when you go into another medium, or a sequel, or another story with those same characters, you have to be as bold about telling those stories as you were on the first one.

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