A few months ago I had the opportunity to sit down with the cast & creators of Disney’s Descendants 2. When your daughter is a huge fan of many of the stars in this film it makes it such a fun experience and now I can finally share! This event was hosted by Disney (all expenses were paid in exchange for press coverage).
Descendants 2 premieres FRIDAY, JULY 21 (8:00 p.m. ET/PT) on five networks – Disney Channel, ABC, Freeform, Disney XD and Lifetime!
If you’ve seen the first Descendants movie, you know this is an amazing cast and a super fun story. Descendants 2 takes us back to the Isle of the Lost after the pressure to be royal becomes too much for Mal. Her archenemy Uma, the daughter of Ursula, has taken her spot as self-proclaimed queen of the run-down town. Uma, still resentful over not being selected by Ben to go to Auradon Prep with the other Villain Kids, stirs her pirate gang including Captain Hook’s son Harry and Gaston’s son Gil, to break the barrier between the Isle of the Lost and Auradon, and unleash all the villains imprisoned on the Isle, once and for all.
Dove Cameron on playing Mal
What was it like getting back into the role of Mal? What was different from the first movie?
Dove Cameron: Kenny, the writers, and myself all threw [strict notions of Mal’s character] out the window because she, as a human does, goes through life changes and experiences. She never had anyone growing up and she couldn’t ever really find her footing with the one person that she did have to rely on [her mother, Malificent]. So she learned to rely on herself. In the second movie when we pick back up, she now knows what it feels like to be authentically loved and to have a space held for her to be supported. Just like any other human, you gravitate towards whatever you’re used to, and so she has no idea how to deal with that. Now she has to start over and find what is [her authentic identity] for the first time in her life.
You talked about your character changing and experiencing different things. Is there anything that you brought from your own self into the film to help you with the changes, and dealing with that?
Dove Cameron: As an actor, I do that as much as I can in every role, but Mal is my ride or die. I fell in love with her when I read the “Descendants” script back in 2013. I had an emotional, visceral response. I said, “She’s my girl!” because I related to her so much. Even though all of the characters and Mal are in fantastical circumstances, their experiences are very relatable.
A lot of people – a lot of kids and a lot of adults who were once kids – don’t always have an easy home situation. They don’t always have all the support that they deserve. I think all of us in this room can relate to feeling like we lacked something there that we now have to deal with as we’ve gotten older. That was something that I had such a lovely time with, for myself psychologically and also as an actor, to inject pain into an experience that we [all share].
This is a movie for children, and so we have to ride that line between [communicating] really helpful and relatable messages, but still keeping it light. That was challenging and interesting for me, and I did bring a lot of things I felt like I lacked from my own childhood. It definitely helped keep Mal real. It also helped me as a human to explore somebody else’s issues, and to fix my own at the same time.
Sofia Carson discusses Evie
How was it going back and filming the second “Descendants”?
Carson: It was surreal. The first “Descendants” was my first movie. It changed my life and I fell in love with Evie and loved being able to tell her story. We’ve become such a family and working with Kenny and everyone is just always a dream, so when we found out the sequel was green lit, we were just beyond thrilled. It was surreal to return to the characters and to tell their stories and see how they’ve evolved. The movie is just so much bigger in scope. It’s so epic and beautiful and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.
Will we see more of Evie’s villainous side in the film?
Carson: You’ll see a different side of Evie because in the first film, when we met her, Evie was very much her mother’s daughter. She was very consumed in what she looked like and she was sadly willing to believe that her reflection in the mirror is what defined her as a person. At the end of the movie, she realized that as girls, [our looks do not] define us. That doesn’t make us more important or beautiful or special. It’s who we are in our hearts and to be the fairest of them all is to be fair inside. In the second movie, Evie has really grown into herself. She is strong and independent. She’s smart. She’s a fashion designer. She has made her dream come true without a prince and she’s become a leader. At the same time, her best friend Mal, [who is like] her sister, is lost and really confused. Their relationship is really beautiful and important and it’s a story of girl power, which I love.
BooBoo Stewart Talks Jay
Comparing “Descendants 2” to the first movie, how was the difficulty level? Did you find that you had to prepare yourself more?
Stewart: Physically, this movie was more demanding. The first movie was more of a mental challenge because I didn’t know what to expect. On the first movie, it felt like, “Wow! This is really rehearsing here!” And then, in the second one, I went into it knowing we were going to be rehearsing, but it was even more challenging. So it’s very physically demanding, but the preparation was nice. You know who your character is when you’re going into it. There’s a little bit of a change because they’ve matured from the first movie. So, the mental preparation was there, but I didn’t expect the intensity of the physical challenges.
Of all the musical numbers in the film, which one is your favorite?
Stewart: I have to say “Chillin’ Like a Villain.” It’s just really great. We had a great time shooting it. It was a beautiful disaster! We were filming outside and it was not supposed to be a tsunami. Along with the wind and the rain, it was brutal, but you can’t tell when you’re watching it. I can’t help but smile watching, not just because of the song, but because of the energy that’s given to the performance.
“Ways to Be Wicked” was actually hard to film because we didn’t use real apples to rehearse. What a waste. We just used tennis balls and things like that. That was one of the trickier challenges because you have this army of dancers, and if one person drops the ball then you have the tennis ball rolling around while everyone else dances.
Cameron Boyce – Carlos de Vil
Of all the dance sequences that you guys had to do, which one was the hardest and longest for you guys to film?
Boyce: I would say the finale probably. There were a lot of variables that we had to take into account. That probably took over four or five really long days. It was intense honestly because there were some elements that we added that made it a little difficult and that were not a part of how we rehearsed it. It was challenging, but we got through it and it looks amazing. The finale is probably my favorite number.
What do you hope to see come out for your character’s role?
Boyce: People are really excited to see what happened to these kids in the second movie. When you leave them, they just left this horrible, desolate place to go somewhere that’s this beautiful new world and they’re still getting used to it at the end of the first movie. The world in Auradon is really important, and then some other stuff happens where we have to return to our roots. That is hard for us too because we’re getting used to this newer place and we’re still fighting with that. That doesn’t stop.
China McClain (Uma) – on Being The Newest Cast Member
What is it like joining the cast of “Descendants?”
McClain: Joining the cast of “Descendants” was surreal for me. It was an honor because everyone loved the first film and I was a fan of the first film. I thought it was beautifully put together. And Kenny Ortega is just great. I really wanted to work on it so when I got the call saying I got the role, I said, “Yes!”
How did you feel about being Ursula’s daughter?
McClain: She is one of my favorite movie villains ever. She has so much attitude. In preparation, I watched “The Little Mermaid” about 20 times before I went to Vancouver to shoot. I was looking at her mannerisms, how she talked and everything that she said, and that helped me a lot on set.
What was it like working in those awesome, crazy costumes?
McClain: It was difficult working in the costumes because I had a skirt and heels on, not to mention the heavy braids and the leather jacket I could barely move my arms in. I had to do a dance number in all of that, and part of the process is just getting adjusted to the costume. We did three weeks of rehearsing before we started shooting, and part of the rehearsal was that I had the wig on. I thought, “I’m going to wear this so I can get used to doing the dance numbers in it.” So, after I got adjusted to it, it was pretty much cake.
Bottom line, we will be watching Descendants 2 this Friday, July 21st.
My daughter is super excited to see this, and I’m sure it is going to be a fantastic sequel!
Photo credits: Disney Studios