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During last weekend’s press event for The Star, I had the opportunity to sit down with Gina Rodriguez and Zachary Levi to chat about their roles portraying Mary and Joseph in the film. Holiday movies make a strong emotional and sentimental connection to audiences, and this animated take on the Christmas story is the type of film that could easily become a holiday tradition to watch; so I asked the duo if there were any seasonal movies that they had grown up with that might have inspired them in wanting to become part of this new family favorite.
Rodriguez – who is no stranger to portraying miraculous birth after her starring role in Jane The Virgin – says that watching the nativity was an annual tradition in her household. The actress has spoken to me before about the importance of her family and personal values; I interviewed Rodriguez two years ago about her involvement in the anti-bullying campaign “Be Good to Each Other”, so projects with an uplifting message are clearly important to her. “I grew up with the nativity story,” she told me. “All the different versions – I feel like TBS and Lifetime did a version every Christmas – I really enjoyed it, so it’s really cool to be a part of this one.”
For his part, Levi is also a big fan of the other Christmas Story. “Because who doesn’t want a leg lamp?” he joked. “And I also like It’s a Wonderful Life – to me that’s one of the greatest stories ever told.” The Jimmy Stewart classic also left a big impression on Rodriguez during the scene where Stewart talks about lassoing the moon. “It’s so romantic!” she said, noting that it was also her boyfriend’s favorite movie. “He always watches it with his family on Christmas Eve, and last year we weren’t with his family, so he said I do this every year and I’m not gonna be with my family, but you’re my family now, will you watch with me? And it was the first time I had watched it with him and it was so beautiful.Their relationship [In It’s a Wonderful Life], though, towards the end was really rough.”
“He and his wife in the movie? Well, that all came full circle,” Levi replied. “I love the heart of that movie in that, even in our worst bits, even if we feel like we have completely ruined our lives – and I’ve felt like I’ve done that plenty of times in my own life – you are worth something. You are valuable. You are valuable to your family, to your friends, to your community, and the world would not be the same if you were not in it. And I think that’s the greatest thing from that movie.”
“That’s also the beautiful take on Joseph and Mary in The Star,” Rodriguez noted. “I think the way that they told the story was so beautifully done. Because it is such a delicate matter, but it’s done with such a light [touch], joyous. We all are just trying, and we all are just attempting at being the best version of ourselves. And we all fail, all fall. Joseph feels that way, and Mary does, throughout their entire little journey, but it’s done in such a hopeful way. The weight isn’t so heavy, so that children and adults with their different perspective on it can see the value in it, which I think is very cool.”
The Star is in theaters now.