Beloved characters from the feature film accompany Rapunzel on her journey, including her partner in life Eugene; her loyal chameleon sidekick, Pascal; no nonsense and dutiful horse, 'Maximus; and the Snuggly Duckling Pub Thugs'. The series will introduce Cassandra, a tough-as-nails lady-in-waiting, who becomes Rapunzel’s confidante.
We spoke to Zachary Levi to find out more about the series and his role as Eugene.
What first attracted you to the role of Eugene?
I always dreamt about doing a Disney animated film, specifically a musical. I talked to my agent, and they said that they were only seeing English actors because originally Flynn was to be English and I told my agent ‘Please fight for me, I do a decent English accent’.
I auditioned and got the job with an English accent, and then they decided that Flynn’s character wasn’t going to be English and so now he sounds like me. So really it was initially about being able to do a Disney movie, but the character is such a good one - he’s roguish, charming, fun, and also puts his foot in his mouth on a regular basis.
What can we expect from the TV series and what adventures does Eugene go on in the new movie?
The Disney Channel Original Movie and the series is set around all of the adventures that take place between the first animated feature film and the short, Tangled Ever After. There are countless action-packed adventures.
At the heart of it are Rapunzel and Eugene who are getting to really understand and know one another, and therefore truly love each other on a deeper level but also growing as individuals.
Our characters visit far off land after land from magical swamps and islands to jungles and forests, as well as meeting weird and interesting good guys and bad guys with mystical and magical powers. There’s so much for viewers and our fans to enjoy.
What is the reaction from children when they meet Flynn Rider/Eugene? You must get mobbed by young fans?
It really depends on the age. In fact, that was one of the really important lessons I had to learn early on. Friends or fans would want me to meet their children and I realised it’s up until about the age of 6 that children still have this very vivid imagination and believe in animated movies and very much think that these characters still might be real people that they are dealing with, and so there’s a complete disconnect.
So when people now say ‘Hey, will you meet my kid’, the first question I ask them is ‘How old is your child?’ because if they’re under that 6-year age range I try not to meet them. I will leave them a voicemail, but otherwise the kids freak out, they think you’re holding hostage or eaten this character that they care so much about, and now you’ve taken on their personality - it freaks them out.
At best, they go and hide behind the parent, and at worst they’re crying because you’ve shattered their dreams.
Do you sing in this new film? If so, how was that?
Yes, we do. It’s one of the many great things about working on a project like Tangled. The music is a great part of the movie and series. I’ve sung all my life and I’ve appeared in musical theatre before, so this is an element to performing that I always look forward to. I’ve grown up singing Disney songs all my life, and it was fantastic to be able to sing with Mandy again.
Growing up, what was your favourite Disney movie and princess/heroine and why?
I’ve got to go with Aladdin because he’s just a fantastic male hero for me. Aside from the character of Aladdin, the comedy in that animation is spectacular.
Robin Williams’s Genie, to me, is just one of the greatest characters ever. I mean, what was that? He was given a licence that no other character could have because he could travel in time. His impersonations were fantastic and it was a licence for awesome.
What would you say was the best thing about working with Tangled and Mandy Moore again?
It’s just crazy and awesome. I just can’t put into words. Mandy is an amazingly talented actress and it’s a real honour to work with her. It’s great to be working with her again, we’ve remained friends ever since the feature animation and I couldn’t be happier to be back with her again on this project. When you dream of working on a project like this for so long and then it actually happens, it’s very difficult to believe that it’s a real thing.
You have previously said you’ve had an album on the back-burner, can we expect some original music from you soon?
I’ve wanted to record an album and make music more a part of my life and career for a long time, but it’s just been something either through timing or, I don’t know, fear I suppose.
I think now, I’ve come to a place where I love singing so much and now that my fans have heard me sing a good bit and they’re saying ‘Make something, I want to hear you sing more’ - so I’ll do it.
* Catch Tangled: The Series on Disney Channel (DStv Channel 303) on December 4 at 4pm. The series will also start from episode 1 as part of the Hilarious Holidays block on December 7 at 1.15pm.