Disney celebrates a century of culture-defining animation with its latest feature, Wednesday’s “Wish.”
Here, the plucky heroine, 17-year-old Asha (voiced by Oscar winner Ariana DeBose), bonds with her three-week-old pet goat Valentino (Alan Tudyk). “He’s just a kid,” Tudyk noted with a laugh.
Where, Tudyk, 52, was asked in a phone interview, did he get that name! He’s certainly not an Italian goat (even though he will soon be in Walmart as a cuddly plush toy).
“I think you need to ask Asha. She named him. He seems much more like a Rupert to me,” Tudyk answered.
Set centuries ago in a small mythical kingdom, “Wish” finds the country’s founder King Magnifico (Chris Pine) to be a nasty, narcissistic wizard prone to the dark side. He holds captive the wishes of his people, which prompts Asha to wish so strongly, a mighty, tiny star named Star appears to help her in the fight against tyranny.
But what, Tudyk was asked, is “Wish” really about?
“It’s about the wishes inside of us. That wishes can define us, our dreams define us, in a special way. There’s also a message about joining together to make our wishes come true. It’s about hope where nobody is taking away your wish. And protecting it as something that is sacred to you. It’s a very positive message movie.”
Tudyk has a most positive place with Disney – since 2012 he’s voiced characters in every Walt Disney Animation Studios film.
“The first one I did was King Candy from ‘Wreck-It Ralph.’ That went well and then I did ‘Frozen’ and after that, they said, ‘Oh, you’re the good luck charm. Those are the things that made those two movies great!’ I was like, ‘OK! I think you’re right’ — and they’ve put me in every one since.”
As for being a studio’s lucky charm, “Yes, it’s a superstitious town. We’re all here living our dreams or wishes as it were coming true. So I’m happy to roll with it.”
A distinct advantage is Tudyk’s vocal versatility. Valentino was originally just a sweet innocent little goat and that changed dramatically.
Tudyk recalled when he did Duke Weaselton, a weasel, in “Zootopia,” “They said, ‘Watch Jimmy Cagney. Listen to how Cagney pronounces things’
“Doing Valentino for ‘Wish’ originally he was so cute, like a little darling, precious little thing. Then we played around with some different voices and then came up” – and Tudyk did the growling mid-Atlantic, brusque sailor’s voice that’s in the movie.
“He became less of this sweet little goat and much more of an adventurer who’s there to help.”
“Wish” is in theaters Wednesday