“It’s not just about guy cars. There’s really strong female characters in this film, too,” said exec producer John Lasseter of the film’s strong message of female empowerment.
“You don’t say no to Pixar,” said Cristela Alonzo with a laugh as she walked the red carpet for the premiere of her latest film, Disney/Pixar’s Cars 3, at the Anaheim Convention Center on Saturday.
The rest of the cast, including Armie Hammer, Kerry Washington, Jennifer Lewis and Owen Wilson, echoed that sentiment. But cast and crew also highlighted at the event that Disney/Pixar’s latest release puts a spotlight on themes of female empowerment and learning from past generations.
“These are movies that have…meant a lot to kids, and now different generations of kids,” said Wilson of being part of the Cars franchise as the voice of top racer Lighting McQueen for the past 10 years. “Now, I have two little kids. It’s just exciting.”
The event also attracted the likes of Jimmy Kimmel, Adam Sandler, Johnny Knoxville and Soleil Moon Frye who brought their families to enjoy the festivities.
Life-size replicas of the Cars characters lined the red carpet, but John Lasseter, the film’s executive producer, said: “It’s not just about guy cars. There’s really strong female characters in this film, too.” He highlighted the significance of Alonzo’s female character in the film, with the star noting that Cruz Ramirez, a yellow car with a bubbly personality and dreams of being a racer, reflects her real life backstory of feeling that she was against the odds.
“They (Lasseter and director Brian Fee) wanted to have that underdog feeling, which is something I’ve struggled with coming from stand-up and just really trying to make a path for myself in this career,” Alonzo told THR. “Once I started talking to John Lasseter and Brian they knew that they wanted to tell that story, my story, through Cruz’s eyes so every time I see Cruz, anytime that anybody sees Cruz, they have to know that they are actually seeing my story.”
And just as Disney/Pixar films have entertained generations, Fee says this film, along with Alonzo’s character, puts “a piece of ourselves onscreen” by tying together the power of mentorship and generations that have come before and after us.
In that vein, the film also gives a nod to the late Paul Newman — whose recording outtakes from the original Cars film are used in the film as a tribute to the Hollywood icon and a way to bring back his character. Plus, two new characters were created based on racing legend Louise Smith, one of the first female racers, and Wendell Scott, the first African-American racer.
“In their time, they were really facing incredible obstacles and are incredibly brave people, so when we do our research and we dig into these real stories, we’re very inspired by what folks have already done out there,” said co-producer Andrea Warren.
Following the film screening, guests were treated to a private party at Cars Land in Disney’s California Adventure park complete with a live band, a spread of food, including burgers, popcorn and cotton candy, as well as the opportunity to ride the Cars-themed attractions, including Radiator Springs Racers.
Cars 3 hits theaters Friday.