With the coronavirus syphoning the joy out of 2020, a film like “Jingle Jangle: A Musical Journey” is a welcome arrival.
More so, when you have a cast that comprises Forest Whitaker, Anika Noni Rose, Phylicia Rashad, Keegan-Michael Key, Hugh Bonneville, Ricky Martin and child star Madalen Mills, who makes her acting debut.
I was fortunate enough to get to interview Mills, Noni Rose as well as Rashad in a recent virtual Zoom press junket.
Noni Rose, I had the pleasure of interviewing in person at MIPTV in Cannes a few years ago. It was for “Roots”, which aired on History channel.
Her thoughtful responses during this chat blew me away as it did back then.
And Mills is not just adorable on and off camera, she has that powerful star quality that hints at a spectacular career in showbiz.
Rashad, defying gravity with her youthful appearance, continues to exude grace as an industry icon.
It doesn’t often happen that you get to engage with three generations of actors from one movie, so I made the most of my time with them.
Rashad added: “As actors, we could do any number of things with little to no meaning to anybody so it’s really a gift to be a part of something that’s going to mean a lot. It makes me feel good.”
Of her involvement, Mills shared: “Well, this was my first movie, which was very exciting. Of course, getting to work alongside amazing actors, actresses and singers was nothing short of a blessing.
“As far as the nerves go, I was a little bit nervous in the beginning because, like I said before, this was my first movie and I didn’t know how it was going to work.”
Once she got to set, learned how the process works, those nerves faded.
“Also, I got to learn from Ms Phylicia Rashad, Ms Anika Noni Rose and Mr Forest Whitaker just by observing them, so it was definitely a great learning experience.
The movie centres on Jeronicus Jangle (Whitaker). Once a successful toymaker, he falls upon hard times after his apprentice steals one of his biggest inventions, along with his book of ideas. Disillusioned for years, the arrival of his granddaughter, Journey, helps him start believing in himself again.
Noni Rose, who gets to work with Whitaker for the first time, plays Jessica (the estranged daughter of Jeronicus).
Noni Rose offered: “It was lovely working with Forest, we had met before just being in the industry. But it is really nice when you meet someone and they have a really lovely energy and then you go to work with them and that energy hasn’t changed.
“He’s a very lovely, easy person. And it is the same at work or whether you run into him at an event. Or you just meet him. He’s a very consistent person. He believes in doing the job without drama and with care. That is a great thing.”
Commenting on the musical score by John Legend, she added: “I didn’t meet John until the songs had been recorded, mixed and done.
“But it was thrilling to do. That is the type of music that gets you from within your bones.
“I think part of that is the history of the music that it was taken from.
“It is a strong R&B funk space but it comes from way back, from work songs, from blues, from all of that.
“I get goosebumps thinking about it. I loved it. I can still feel the base.”
The set is a wonderland for kids and kids at heart.
Mills agreed: “Well the sets were beautiful. They were so gorgeous.
“Everything was so detailed, you could tell when you watched the movie that every single piece of the story and the set and the music, every single piece was well thought out. It is so great to be able to sing, act and dance, three things I’m very passionate about.
“When you are on set, you are transformed into this world of wishes and wonder. I couldn’t have asked for a better set and people to work with. It was amazing.”
This movie transmits plenty of hope and love through the journey of its characters. It’s truly a spellbinding experience with Hollywood giants like you’ve not seen them before.
“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” will be available on Netflix from Friday, November 13.
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