Revisiting Giselle: cast and crew reveal the behind the scenes of Disney’s new film Disenchanted

Revisiting Giselle: cast and crew reveal the behind the scenes of Disney’s new film Disenchanted

Fifteen years ago, a princess fell out of a fairy tale and into the modern world. Today, she’s back for a second bite of the poisoned apple, with Disney’s release of Disenchanted, the follow-up to its smash hit 2007 film Enchanted.

Enchanted was a fish-out-of-water stroy in which Giselle, the princess, had to find her feet in present-day New York and defeat a wicked witch before ultimately falling in love with widowed lawyer Robert (played by Patrick Dempsey).

Amy Adams, who returns for the sequel, says, “The first time, with Enchanted, we were taking a big leap. I knew how much I’d loved Giselle and how much I believed in her spirit. And we just got into it not really knowing what it would be or if people would get it.”

Well, they did: so much so that Enchanted went onto become a classic, earning $340m at the box office.

That might have been the end of the story for Giselle, but 15 years down the line, Adams says there’s more to tell: namely, what happens after the main character gets their happily ever after.

“For me, it was interesting because we were looking at where Giselle would be now,” she says, “making sure we keep her grounded in the truth of her feelings, but without losing that joy and that naiveite and innocence and purity that makes Giselle so special.”

 (Courtesy of Disney Enterprises,)
(Courtesy of Disney Enterprises,)

This new version of Giselle is 10 years older, married to Robert and with a child. But the crux of the film’s plot is more to do with her relationship with Robert’s daughter Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino), who is now a teenager - and who resents Giselle’s decision to move the family to the suburb of Monroeville in search of a better life.

“I was like, ‘You know Giselle’s the stepmother. She’s Morgan’s stepmother,’” director Adam Shankman says. “And that for me became the absolute jumping-off point… this is perfect in terms of a continuation of that because she has this now-developed daughter who probably doesn’t believe in magic anymore.”

Unfortunately for Morgan, magic is still very much real and plays a pivotal role in the plot.

Where the original Enchanted involved fairy-tale characters escaping from the animated world and wreaking havoc in New York, Disenchanted takes place in Monroeville, where a well-intended wish from Giselle (to live a “fairy tale life”) accidentally transforms Morgan and Robert into singing, dancing fairy-tale versions of themselves.

It’s an enthusiastic retread of many scenes from its forebear, Enchanted - and Disney has leaned especially hard into this in the run-up to the film’s release, even conducting a flash mob in London’s Westfield shopping centre with Strictly star Oti Mabuse.

“It was so much fun to watch you, Patrick. I was saying yesterday that I’ve never seen a man happier in a tunic, other than my husband,” Adams tells Dempsey. “It was so much fun to see you really embrace that swashbuckler adventurer.”

Dempsey agrees, branding it “a great opportunity to play something that was so broad. I don’t get that opportunity [often] and I really loved it. It’s a little scary at first. But… it was a safe environment to work in, and it was fun to play, and hopefully people enjoy that.”

Despite it’s supposed adherence to the rules of Disney – the princess, the wicked witch and talking animals are all present – the cast and crew are also at pains to point out the extent to which Enchanted pokes fun at those same rules.

“The fundamental construct, theoretically, of Enchanted is the sending up of all of the tropes. And it’s one of my favourite things about the movie and about participating in it because, to my knowledge, it’s the first time Disney ever winked at itself,” Shankman says.

“Honestly, if you look around, when the town turns into a fairy-tale town, every sign of every shop has something ‘Disney winking’ involved in it… everywhere you look, you could swing a cat, you’re gonna hit a trope.”

This includes the dresses worn by Malvina’s henchwomen (which are direct rip-offs of the step sisters’ dresses from Cinderella); the magic mirror from Snow White, which is repurposed here, and even Giselle’s loyal chipmunk friend Pip, who turns into evil cat Lucifer (also from Cinderella).

 (Alex Bailey)
(Alex Bailey)

And of course Adams, who (without issuing too many spoilers) gets to channel several evil step-mothers over the course of the film too.

For her, having the chance to come back and revisit a much-loved character, years after she first played her is a dream come true – and it’s something that both she and her fellow castmates are full of enthusiasm for.

“[Enchanted happened] really early on in my career,” she says. “This movie has meant so much to me in so many ways. So, I’m just grateful to get to come back and revisit Giselle at this point in my life.”

Disenchanted is streaming now on Disney+