Mi Familia: Encanto’s top-tier stars chat about superpowers, favorite tíos and family reputations

click to enlarge Encanto debuts in theaters on Nov. 24. - WALT DISNEY STUDIOS
Walt Disney Studios
Encanto debuts in theaters on Nov. 24.
The Madrigal family at the center of Disney’s newest animated feature Encanto is massive — and magical.

In the film, each member of the extended Colombian family is blessed with a unique talent on their fifth birthday. From superhuman strength to shapeshifting skills, each special power contributes to the entire clan’s identity.

However, Mirabel Madrigal (Stephanie Beatriz) didn’t receive a special gift. She can’t make flowers bloom on command like her sister Isabela (Diane Guerrero) or heal people with food like her mother. Even so, she soon realizes that she might be the only person who can keep her family’s magical powers flourishing.

During an interview with the Current, Beatriz, Guerrero and Oscar-nominated songwriter and Broadway superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda (Moana), who wrote the music for Encanto, talked about what special power they would have enjoyed having as a kid and what makes their own families so extraordinary.

Encanto makes its theatrical debut Nov. 24.

Each child in Encanto receives a special power at the age of five. What supernatural talent would you have enjoyed the most at that age?

Diane Guerrero:
I think talking with animals and riding on a massive saber-toothed tiger. I think that would be the most fun for me.

Stephanie Beatriz: Honestly, I think when I was 5, I would’ve wanted to disappear. I would’ve wanted to be able to go invisible at any time — maybe because I often felt invisible. But if you had the power to do it yourself, you’d get to choose when you’re invisible, as opposed to feeling invisible all the time.

Lin-Manuel Miranda: What I fantasized the most about when I was 5 years old was having a full movie and television studio where I could make any movies I wanted. (Laughs.) I’ve kept inching towards that superpower over the course of my life. I’m still chasing it!

Since Encanto features an extended family, who’s someone in your family, outside of your parents and siblings, who left a lasting impression on who you? Did you have a favorite cousin or tía?

Guerrero: Yeah, my Tía Milena. She’s such an incredible soul — so generous and so mystical. She was always full of wonder and mystery. She always had so many things in all these little drawers. I would always go and get lost in those drawers. I really think she taught me the importance of imagination. I really love her for that.

Beatriz: For me, it was my Tío Guido. He’s passed away, but when I was in the second grade, [our family] visited California for the first time, and he took us to Disneyland. That was super magical and special. At the end of Pirates of the Caribbean, he bought me this keychain. It was this little pewter skull on a ring. I had it for the longest time. It was really the only chance I got to hang out with him before he died. I really remember a lot about that trip. I remember him holding my hand during Pirates and telling me not to be scared because it was all for fun. Even if he was in my life for only a short time, he really made a deep and lasting impression.

Miranda: For me, it would be my great uncle Ernesto Concepción, who was the only member of my family in the arts. My grandmother ran a travel agency. My grandfather worked at a bank. My dad saw that I was very interested in having a creative life and was like, “Great! Be a lawyer!” But I knew that my grandmother’s brother was this beloved theater actor in Puerto Rico. We would always go see his plays whenever we were there, so I knew [a career in the arts] was possible. That was incredibly aspirational for me as a kid.

Describe your entire family in a few words. Like, imagine your whole family walks into a party and people turn around and say, “Oh, here come the Mirandas. Here come the Guerreros. Here come the Beatrizes.” What would they say about the group?

Beatriz: “Ay, ya vienen los locos … ya vienen.” (“Oh, here come the crazies … here they come.”) “Locura.” (“Craziness.”) “Crazy has arrived!”

Guerrero: I would say “alive.” No one in my family is just chill. I think they’d say, “Esta gente ser viva, no?” (“These people are alive, no?”)

Miranda: With my parents, it would be “sube la música.” (“Turn up the music.”) My dad will outdance anybody on the dance floor. He will dance to the slow songs and the fast songs. The DJ will be trying to go home, and my dad will be sweaty and will just keep going.

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