Anthony Gonzalez has spent about a quarter of his life involved with the new Pixar animated film Coco, and he couldn’t be more excited about it.
The 13-year-old Los Angeles native has a breakthrough role in the movie (in theaters now) voicing Miguel, a young Mexican boy with musical dreams who has a wondrous adventure in the Land of the Dead, where he's in search of an important relative.
“Me and Miguel are both persevering and we never give up and we want to do what we love,” says Gonzalez, who auditioned for Coco when he was 9 and finally won the part two years later.
He’s also got a mutual admiration society going with co-star Benjamin Bratt, who plays Miguel's idol Ernesto de la Cruz. “That kid is amazing,” Bratt says. “He’s the heart and soul of the film, inarguably.”
While Gonzalez is new in Hollywood, you may have seen him already if you’re a regular Univision viewer or dig CBS procedurals. Here’s what else fans need to know about Disney’s newest phenom:
He’s in the mariachi version of the Partridge Family.
Gonzalez has been singing and acting since he was 4, when he began doing street performances at L.A.’s La Placita Olvera with his siblings (two brothers and two sisters). “I would see them having so much fun onstage and dancing and laughing, and I felt like, ‘I want to do that, too!’ ”
He’s already a screen veteran.
In his short career, the teenager has performed on Spanish-language variety show Sabado Gigante, auditioned for Telemundo's La Voz Kids (The Voice for kids) and is a regular on an annual Univision telethon for sick Latin American children, plus has had acting parts on Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders and FX's The Bridge. “I feel like maybe I get more nervous when I’m singing,” Gonzalez says. “One, it’s live. Two, there’s a lot of people watching. And three, you have to make sure you get the right notes and everything. Acting is a bit easier because I know what the character is going through and I can put myself in his shoes.”
He spent his 13th birthday at Disneyland.
If Coco is a hit, Gonzalez’s voice will probably become a fixture at the Disney theme park, but he’s already part of the family: He took a trip there for his birthday (Sept. 23) and saw the Coco-themed Plaza de la Familia show at California Adventure Park. “I’ve been to Disneyland before, but to go at this age is just so much fun,” Gonzalez says.
But his happiest place on Earth might be Pixar headquarters.
Gonzalez recorded his Coco lines at the animation studio located outside of San Francisco, but it wasn’t all work. He loves the giant Luxo Ball out front (which appears as an Easter egg in Pixar films), the Pixar store, the soccer field and, maybe most of all, the cafeteria Café Luxo. “I get a fruit cup every time I go there and burritos or pizza,” he says. “It’s so amazing.”
He already has a Pixar crossover in mind.
When asked which other Disney character he’d like Miguel to hang with, Gonzalez didn’t have to think too hard. “I would like Miguel to meet Woody from Toy Story,” he says with a laugh. “If Miguel was friends with him and all the toys, I think that’d be cool.”