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Cast of 'Princess' praise historical film

Hollywood Wrap with George Pennacchio
December 10, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
"The Princess and the Frog" is expected to get a royal welcome at the box office this weekend. The family film features an all-star ensemble cast, including Jenifer Lewis and Keith David."The Princess and the Frog" is an updated fairy tale featuring, for the first time, an African-American princess leading the cast of voice characters in an animated Disney film.

"It's a great historical wonderful thing," said actress Jenifer Lewis. "We now have an African-American princess, but Tiana is for all ages and nationalities, just like every one of the princesses were."

Jenifer Lewis worked hard to find the right voice for her character, a type of "fairy godmother" to Tiana and her frog prince. A voodoo queen named Mama Odie.

"Mama Odie's blind! In the studio and you've got a snake that becomes a cane," said Lewis. "You're filing the space, knowing the objectives, what they're feeling, saying, singing, the little things. It was so much fun."

Broadway veteran Keith David used all of his experience to bring the villainous Dr. Facilier to life.

"I had a director say to me once when doing a Shakespeare play, 'We mustn't bring these characters down to our little selves, but we must bring our little selves to meet the height of these characters.' And that is what we get to do," said David.

Lewis gets to perform one of the film's show stopping musical numbers. And the actress loves Mama Odie's message that when times are tough just "Dig a Little Deeper."

"Every day when I wake up in the morning it is a time to rejoice," said David.

"George Burns said, "If you wake up and read the paper and your name's not in the Obits, you're doing alright,'" said Lewis.

"The Princess and the Frog" also stars Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, Oprah Winfrey, Terrence Howard, John Goodman and Jim Cummings.

The movie is rated-G.


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