When Roxana and I decided to create SpanglishBaby over two years ago, we had no idea what we were really getting ourselves into. We´ve dedicated much of our time, resources and energy to this labor of love which is now starting to pay back in the form of friendships, perks, a few sponsorships and invitations to events where we get to meet other bloggers and interesting people. Apparently, it all comes with the territory of the “mom blogger” world and we are embracing it as it comes. Of course, the main focus of our content is always the priority, but why can’t it be fun in the process?
One of those moments came a couple of weeks ago (I know, I am SO behind writing about it) when I received an invitation to join a group of twenty mom bloggers from around the country invited to a spend two nights in Hollywood to attend the red carpet premiere of Touchstone Pictures’ newest animation movie, Gnomeo and Juliet, which hits theaters on February 11. I actually live only ten minutes from where the weekend events were taking place, but the invitation required I stay at the hotel because the itinerary for the two days was jammed and star-packed. Anyway, I couldn’t resist a few nights alone in a hotel with some good bloggy friends.
We did get to watch Gnomeo and Juliet twice: during a special screening and during the red carpet premiere. I’m not allowed to give you details about it yet, but I can tell you that I smiled adoringly during the whole movie and that it definitely defied my expectations, which were, admittedly, low. I also did not expect to dance in my seat and sing to myself as much as I did. Sir Elton John’s music is all over the movie and moves it, and you, in ways you don’t expect.
The 20 of us actually sat down in a room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills to talk to Elton John, who is Executive Producer and Music Supervisor of the film. It was a very special moment since he gave himself openly and totally to us with, seemingly, very little inhibitions. He dedicated 30 minutes of his time to candidly respond to our questions, which ranged from why he decided to work on a movie about, out of all things, gnomes; to what books him and his partner, David, are reading to their newborn son, Zachary. (The answer to the book question is: First book they read to him: Cinderella. Book they read the night before: The Runaway Bunny) The admiration, respect and honesty in the room was inspiring. Elton John actually started the conversation talking about how relevant Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, novel by which Gnomeo and Juliet is loosely based, is to our modern times, mentioning the divisions that are being created in the world and, specifically, in our country by happenings in Arizona and the bi-partisan rhetoric. He stressed how it’s up to us–the parents–to make sure our children learn to love and understand all. Elton summed up to us the take-away message from Gnomeo and Juliet as:
Love is much more powerful than hate. Hate takes a lot of energy. Negative energy. And it puts it out into the world. But love, it’s kind of dormant. But it’s there, it’s a much stronger force. So it may sound a little new agey, but I really believe that that’s the message of this film.
Not only did we get to interview a legend like Elton John, we also sat with the film’s two co-stars–Emily Blunt, who voices Juliet, and James McAvoy, voice of Gnomeo. They were charming and fun together. We were surprised to find out that they had been working on the film for three years (only a few days each year,) but had never been in the same room for it until now. Kelly Asbury, the director, also told us that he chose the voice actors blindly. Meaning that he was handed tapes of different actors playing the parts and he chose the one that fit each character the best. He had no idea which star’s name was attached to the voice.
There’s so much more I want to tell you about the weekend, but this post is already absurdly long. In short, we were treated like true VIPs by the Digital Marketing and Publicity team of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pitcures. They had a whole weekend full of surprises and behind-the-scenes tours which included first looks at upcoming movies, meet and greets with directors, VPs, producers and animators. We also got our true Hollywood moment when were escorted to Disney’s El Capitan Theatre to strut the red carpet along with the stars for the premiere of Gnomeo and Juliet. We saw the movie for a second time, only, this time, we were sitting in a room full of celebrities. Not only that, but the biggest surprise of all happened right after the movie ended and the screen went up to reveal a red grand piano with none other than Sir Elton John sitting behind it and rocking out his classic tune, Crocodile Rock. The whole theater squealed and jumped to its feet. We danced and la-la-la-la-la-la’d together. The perfect end to a Hollywood weekend.
I shot this video while being rushed through the red carpet. You can get an intimate look at how crazy these are and a glimpse at Sir Elton John’s back. I recorded it with my iPhone using the 8mm app which gives it a vintage, 70s film look.
Gnomeo and Juliet opens on theaters nationwide on February 11. Meanwhile, I leave you with a clip from the music video of the movie´s version of “Crocodile Rock” performed by Nelly Furtado and Elton John. My girl and I have a blast listening to this song! Wow..I can’t believe Elton John managed to make it into my daughter’s playlist…
Disclosure: We did not receive any compensation for writing this post. I received a two-night stay at a hotel, plus meals, transportation around town and a Disney goodie bag as part of the event. All opinions, and the desire to share, are my own.