Danny DeVito on being a dog and thinking of pizza in Disney’s The One and Only Ivan

Bryan Cranston as Mack, Stella (voiced by Angelina Jolie), and Ruby (voiced by Brooklynn Prince). Photo courtesy of Disney.

The One and Only Ivan follows Ivan, a circus gorilla who can draw. His journey from captivity to wanting freedom is based on the children’s book of the same name, which in turn is inspired by the true story. The live-action/CG film was originally scheduled for a theatrical release, but due to the current pandemic, Disney has decided to release it on Disney+.

The film features a huge voice cast and live-action cast including Danny DeVito, Angelina Jolie, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Helen Mirren, Chaka Khan and more. During the film’s press conference, the actors talked about their respective roles including DeVito as Bob the Dog.

Jolie plays Stella, an elephant who cares for a baby elephant named Ruby (voiced by Brooklynn Prince). Like the film, the actress brought her motherly role to her fellow co-star.

“Angie also bought me this stuffed animal with a little baby elephant and a big elephant holding each other’s trunks for Easter,” Prince said.

“I think it’s safe to say we became like the elephant family,” Jolie added. “We got really into our characters, us two.”

The One and Only Ivan deals with animal captivity, and Jolie talks about how the film tackles comedy and drama.

“It’s hard,” Jolie said about the film’s story. “It’s not a light film. It deals with heavy issues. But it is charming and fun and full of life. But it’s deceptive in the packaging. So, I thought it’s very important and wanted to get involved. I like the messages in it. I’m excited that this young generation, as well as all of us older people, will appreciate it for many reasons.”

Photo courtesy of Disney.

Danny DeVito plays a dog who is always getting into trouble, and he’s one of Ivan’s good friends.

“It was a pleasure being in this movie,” DeVito said. “I loved working with everybody in the film. I’m an animated dog. So, I kind of spoke with Sam and Helen and everybody. But I put a lot into the character. I feel like the thing about Bob, for me, was that I wanted a friend.”

“I always wanted a bigger brother in my life, and I want an older brother,” the actor continued. “Now I don’t know if he’s older than I am, but I know he’s bigger than I am. And that gorilla is my best friend. I always wanted a soft place to sleep, and his belly is just so, so soft. I could just think about that right now, just sinking into that belly and maybe eating a little piece of pizza first.”

Photo courtesy of Disney.

Bryan Cranston’s Mack is the human ringleader who brings all the animals together. The character cares about the animals, but he also cares about keeping his circus business.

“I too saw him as a man who has flaws but also is attempting to make things right,” Cranston said of Mack. “Ivan was like a child to him. And so, he wasn’t about to abandon his child. He wanted to figure out, “How do I embrace the fact that he’s now a full-fledged silverback gorilla and
how do I live with that?” And so, it was to discover those nuances and allow for the character to be vulnerable.”

Synopsis: Ivan is a 400-pound silverback gorilla who shares a communal habitat in a suburban shopping mall with Stella the elephant, Bob the dog, and various other animals. Ivan has few memories of the jungle where he was born, but when a baby elephant named Ruby arrives, it touches something deep within him. Ivan begins to question his life, where he comes from and where he ultimately wants to be.

The One and Only Ivan is directed by Thea Sharrock and written by Mike White from the book by Katherine Applegate. It also stars Sam Rockwell as the voice of Ivan, Helen Mirren as the voice of Snickers the poodle, Ramon Rodriguez as George, Chaka Khan as the voice of Henrietta the chicken, Mike White as the voice of Frankie the seal, Ron Funches as the voice of Murphy the rabbit, and Philipa Soo as the voice of Thelma the parrot.

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John Nguyen
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