As Disney+ Day approaches on November 12th, the premiere of Olaf Presents gets closer too — and actor Josh Gad, who voices Olaf himself, stopped by the D23 podcast to talk about both Olaf Presents and the upcoming “Beauty and the Beast” prequel series (in which he reprises his role as LeFou alongside Luke Evans‘ Disney villain Gaston). One of the first things that Josh reminisced about when it came to Frozen 2‘s behind-the-scenes was Olaf’s famous ‘Samantha’ scene. “We were recording one day, and I literally out of nowhere just…said ‘Samantha’,” he explained laughingly. “I just felt like doing it.” Josh says that he had “no idea that this run that I did was ever going to survive that recording, and the next time I [came] back to record there’s now a second reference to Samantha.” “I truly don’t know why I said Samantha,” he confessed. “I think I also recorded one that was Sheila.”
NEW: Olaf himself—@JoshGad—talks making Frozen, what to expect from the Beauty and the Beast series, and delightfully distilling Disney stories for Olaf Presents: https://t.co/ts9HlS09l5
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While the ‘Samantha’ scene was definitely a hit with Frozen 2 viewers, one of the other most popular scenes from Frozen 2 was the inspiration behind Olaf Presents. “Olaf Presents is essentially a spin-off or an homage to that moment in Frozen 2 where Olaf recaps the first Frozen for the Northoldra,” Josh explained on the D23 podcast. “And that sequence was done late in development on the movie. I want to say that was, like, the last recording I ever did. And from the very first time that I did it I knew that it was really funny, but again I didn’t realize how much it would connect with audiences.” It wasn’t until after the movie had been out for a while that the idea of Olaf Presents took hold, apparently. “During the lockdown I started getting a lot of people writing me: ‘can Olaf recap other movies’? And I sort of laughed it off,” Josh Gad remembered. “Then one day I reached out to Jennifer Lee who’s the brilliant head of Disney Animation but also the co-director on the Frozen films…I didn’t hear anything, and then one day she writes me and she goes “I think we have an idea”. And she teamed me up with Hyrum Osmond [the Olaf animator] and he came up with these vignettes that would be an homage to some of the most iconic Disney films. Aladdin, Little Mermaid, Lion King, Moana, and Tangled. And they turned out absolutely bonkers and I hope, I think audiences are going to love them. And for me the joy of it was getting to pay homage to movies that were classics when I was a kid”. The six films that are being summarized by Olaf, in his signature style, are definitely classic Disney hits. Will Olaf re-cap more than just those six Disney movies, though? Time will tell.
Josh Gad wasn’t able to discuss much about the upcoming “Beauty and the Beast” prequel series, which is a musical series, that features LeFou and Gaston on adventures before Belle and the Beast’s storyline. “I can’t tell you much…Disney will send lawyers over to my hotel room and arrest me,” Josh joked. “I can tell you that it’s very unexpected…the only reason to tell this story would be to tell a story that really sets up things in the most unanticipated ways, and I think that’s what viewers are going to find. It’s absolutely brilliantly ambitious, it’s absolutely wonderfully wonderfully rich and hilarious at every step.” So far it sounds like Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis are bringing the same excitement, humor, and charm to this series that they did to their popular fairy tale show Once Upon A Time! As the show gets closer to having a release date, Josh confirmed that “it’s all starting to feel very real. And it’s like putting on old shoes. There’s just something about these characters and the characters that we’re bringing into this world that I think audiences are hopefully going to lose their minds over”. As an actor who seems particularly attuned to audience members’ reactions, Josh also pointed out that famed Disney composer Alan Menken “coming back to revisit this incredibly iconic musical tapestry is something that I cannot wait for audiences to see and hear”.
Even though Josh didn’t spill any secrets about the show’s plot, he was able to give listeners a hint of the entertaining rapport and comical chemistry that exists between him and Luke Evans, the Welsh actor and singer who plays Gaston (and whose Disney career will continue with Pinocchio as well). “You had Luke on before me?!” Josh protested when told that he was second to be on the D23 podcast. He also recalled that Luke had been a hit with his family, because “my daughters have a thing for Disney villains.” One of the biggest highlights from the upcoming show, and from the previously-released “Beauty and the Beast” movie, will certainly be LeFou’s efforts to keep up with the dashing Gaston. On set, Josh apparently struggled just as much as LeFou would. “I had to train to be on a horse,” he said, remembering the filming process. “[and] Luke is an unbelievable horseback rider. Like everything else, it just looks like he’s been doing it since he was three…So I do everything he tells me to do, and Luke says it’s the only time he’s ever seen a horse moonwalk in his life,” he laughed. “Once again, Luke just makes it look effortless, and I looked like I was doing Cannonball Run with horses.”