Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Live-Action 'Dora The Explorer' Movie Will Be Everything Fans Want Says Star Isabela Moner [Updated]

Dora The Explorer star Isabela Moner believes Paramount's forthcoming big screen adaptation of Nickelodeon's popular preschool television series will deliver everything fans will be looking for.

Running from 2000 to 2014 on Nickelodeon, Dora The Explorer follows the titular young adventurer on her travels alongside an anthropomorphic monkey and a talking backpack. Dora's quests were usually interrupted by the appearance of Swiper, a fox committed to a life of hard crime. Each episode of Dora The Explorer was, of course, highly educational for the show's young audience, helping them to develop mathematical and linguistic skills, while also teaching them messages of kindness and equality. Dora was also notable for speaking in both English and Spanish at a time when that was not common on children's programming in the United States.

In October of last year, it was revealed that Dora would be getting the live-action movie treatment at the hands of none other than Michael Bay. Since then, it has been announced that James Bobin will be directing from a script by Nick Stoller, the writer-director behind films including The Muppets, Zoolander 2, Neighbors, and Danielle Sanchez-Witzel. The movie hails from Paramount's new Paramount Players division. Bay’s Platinum Dunes label and his partners Andrew Form and Brad Fuller are producing the flick, although Michael Bay is not thought to be directly involved with the movie. Starring in the title role will be Isabela Moner, 16, who was last seen on the big screen in Transformers: The Last Knight with Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Hopkins. Moner will portray a teenage version of the iconic animated character who moves to the city to live with her cousin in the first live-action feature about Dora. Joining Moner on the movie will be Mexican star Eugenio Derbez (Overboard 2018), who will play a roguish explorer named Alejandro Gutierrez who ends up being the villain in the movie.

Prior to Dora the Explorer and Transformers 5, Moner appeared in Nickelodeon's 100 Things to Do Before High School comedy series, Legends of the Hidden Temple TV movie, and voiced the character Kate in Nickelodeon's 2014 Dora the Explorer animated spinoff Dora and Friends: Into the City!.

Screen Rant recently had the chance to interview Moner while the young actor was on promotional duties for Sicario: Day of the Soldado, and couldn't pass up the opportunity to inquire about the progress of the Dora The Explorer movie:

SR: I know you have Dora the Explorer coming out. How excited are you for that, and did you watch Dora growing up? What do you think the tone of the film is going to be?

Isabela Moner: Um, so I... of course, yes. I watched Dora growing up. I'm bilingual and she's like my icon. So I read the script and I wasn't really sure I was going to do it, but when I read the script it was so funny and it was so like, I think it captured everything that audiences would have wanted to see in that childhood, you know, star, obviously. And it is a leap from this (Sicario 2: Day of the Soldado) but I think versatility is important and it's up to me to prove to people I can do it.

For those skeptical about Dora's transition to the big screen, it's somewhat reassuring that Moner herself admits she was wary about the project prior to reading the script, but was convinced otherwise by the movie's humor. The actress is also certainly not wrong when she mentions the stark contrast between her current movie, a crime thriller about the U.S-Mexico drug business, and her forthcoming portrayal of Nickelodeon's beloved cartoon character. However, if Moner proves her versatility and excels in both roles, the actress may find herself one of the most sought after young stars in Hollywood.

It is interesting however, that Moner promises Dora The Explorer will deliver what fans "would have wanted to see." Since the TV series first started eighteen years ago, many people familiar with the character are going to be adults by now and as a result, it's not immediately obvious how the movie is going to be pitched. Will it stick to the tone of the original and aim to bring in a new audience of youngsters or will it take a more realistic, comedic approach and seek to give fans of the original series a nostalgia-tinged parody? Moner's comments seem to suggest the latter is more likely.

Dora the Explorer will be filmed on location in Queensland, Australia, including at Sound Stage 9 at Village Roadshow Studios. Cameras due to begin rolling on Monday, August 6. The film will be released in the US on Friday, August 2, 2019, followed shortly by a international roll-out.

Dora the Explorer, the Nick series, was co-created by Eric Weiner, Chris Gifford, and Valerie Walsh.

Also, from the USA Today Network's European Union Experience:

Isabela Moner will transform from 'Sicario' brawler to Latina heroine Dora the Explorer


Secret Agent Dora the Explorer.

The Peruvian-American Moner will step into the iconic animated role of Dora the Explorer in a live-action movie due out next summer, also directed by Bay. She's proud to represent the Latina character she's admired since childhood.

"We don’t have Latina heroines in theaters; I haven't seen Marvel doing it," she says. "I'm excited to play that for young audiences."

She already favors Dora's classic bob haircut, although the character's fantastical bangs will be added with extensions. Her friends gave her the nickname after Moner dressed as Dora for Halloween last year.

"My friends called me Dora for so long after that," Moner says. "And now this comes up, and they have a bigger reason to call me Dora. I love it."


Also, from MovieWeb:

Isabela Moner Talks Sicario 2 and Taking on Dora the Explorer

Isabela Moner is on the verge of mega stardom. The sixteen-year-old actress and singer already has an impressive career. She's grown up acting on Nickelodeon, performed on Broadway, and done big-budget action in Transformers: The Last Knight. Nothing you've seen from her previously will prepare you for Sicario: Day of the Soldado, an absolute gut punch.

The sequel brings back Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin. After a horrifying terrorist attack, the US government decides to wipe out the Mexican drug cartels. The plan, pit them against each other and let the bullets fly. Isabela Moner co-stars as Isabella Reyes, the daughter of a drug kingpin. The black operation to kidnap her and frame a rival does not go as planned. Isabella becomes a pawn in a bloody game. She's brutalized as the narco war explodes.

Isabela Moner spends the entire film in physical and emotional distress. She's forced into uncompromising situations to survive. The actress delivers the most powerful performance among the celebrated cast. It's ugly, and difficult to watch, but a truthful adaptation of a savage conflict.

Moner describes the working environment, and what her co-stars did to put her at ease. They treated her like an adult, with respect. Moner had particular high praise for their Italian director, Stefano Sollima. He wasn't afraid to tell her if something sucked. His method is proven. Moner is simply amazing in Sicario: Day of the Soldado.

Her next film is the live action version of Dora the Explorer. Moner will become the face of the beloved, globally famous character. Moner embraces the role as a proud Latina. She describes the script as Jumanji-like in its approach. Playing Dora is a far cry from a terrified cocaine scion. Moner has no worries about losing her privacy with such a high profile film. She's looking for versatility in her career.

Please see below our complete interview with Isabela Moner. She'll be a household name after Dora, but struts her stuff solidly in Sicario 2. She hopes to follow in the footsteps of J-Lo and Beyonce, acting and pursuing music. Moner never fails to root for her hometown. She's a Cleveland girl, and proud of it.

How are the Sicario 2 interviews going?

Isabela Moner: I've just started my day, so I don't know.

Sorry, I guess us press guys are pretty annoying?

Isabela Moner: Well, it's really awesome when there are some new questions. I look forward to hearing questions I've never been asked before.

I'll try my best to be interesting. First, congratulations on a great performance. Have you seen the completed film?

Isabela Moner: Thank you, I have seen the film, I think this is my fourth time seeing it. Wait, I think I've seen it three times actually? (laughs)

I walked in expecting the film to be gritty and hardcore, but it went way beyond. What was your first reaction to Sicario 2?

Isabela Moner: At first I was like, what the hell is going on? You really have to pay attention. I only understood it when I saw it a second time, even though I read the script. They changed it a lot. There's a couple things, if you miss it, then you won't understand the next part of the movie. I really did enjoy it. It turned out the way I wanted it to. The first time I saw it was without a soundtrack. But once you add that makes it so awesome. (laughs)

What was so different in the final cut? What was changed from the script and filming?

Isabela Moner: They cut a lot of parts of the movie. It almost seems like little holes, but that's the point. Pardon my French, but that's the sh*t show it's meant to be. It really is. The Americans are trying to start this mock war with this entirely different government. It's other people's territory. It goes to show that nothing turns out the way you want it to. There's something to be said about the incomplete storyline. It ends up falling apart. There's a huge moral dilemma. Do we kill this little girl? Who the hell is going to do it? This is just a job? It's quite interesting.

I agree, it shows how nefarious countries can be. Let's table the politics for a second and address your performance. You have quite a bit of experience for someone so young. But this film is so violent and emotional compared to your previous work. How did you get into character? You're running, screaming, basically getting your butt kicked the entire time?

Isabela Moner: I really don't know, maybe it was just pent up teenage angst. I don't know, to be honest. It helps to do a lot of research. It helps being around Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin. They pushed me to be my best. They were so supportive, the coolest people ever. I knew I had to give it my all. I really appreciated Stefano [Sollima]. He treated me the same as the adult male actors. He didn't give me any special treatment. I mean, he always asked if I was okay. He believed in me, more than I did sometimes; especially when he wanted me to improv. It was great. He was so straight up. That one sucked, please do it again. I was like, okay. He's so Italian. It's just the way he communicates. There's never ever any undertones. He's just straight forward.

Was there ever a day you were star struck? Did you ever pinch yourself to be working with such acclaimed actors?

Isabela Moner: Well, it was like, here are these forty year old men. I have no idea what we're going to talk about. At first it was boring. They didn't know what to say to me, or who the hell I was. Are we allowed to curse? They were very confused. It wasn't until we were deep in process, and they started talking about Josh's mom, Barbra [Streisand], a legend. They were so casual. It wasn't until that moment that I knew I was in the presence of really cool people. It was neat. They were kind of goofy. Benicio is nothing like he seems.

What was the best and worst day working on Sicario 2?

Isabela Moner: The worst day, I was really sick, and it had been building up for quite a bit. One day it got really bad. We were in the middle of nowhere. I had to go to the emergency room. Nasty talk, but there was a build up of fluid in my lungs.


Isabela Moner: Yeah, it was getting really intense. They had me come back, just to see what I could do. But we're in the middle of nowhere, so you can't move easily. I get back to set. There's fluid in my lungs. I can't breathe through my mouth. Basically, they're starting to roll, I'm supposed to act like I've been kidnapped. All of a sudden, I couldn't breathe, and I'm like trying to communicate with my mom. She brought me an inhaler. I really couldn't tell anyone either, because I couldn't vocalize very well. That was my worst day on set.

Wow, that sounds pretty bad. How about the best day?

Isabela Moner: The best...the most fun day, well, there are two things I've always wanted to do in a film. The first is beat someone up. Then shoot an alien blaster. So I got to beat someone up. (laughs) In Mexico, in the schoolyard, it was fun getting to choreograph that fight sequence. I remember they had the fake blood packets in her mouth. So when I "punch" her, she bites down and the blood comes out. I just thought that was so cool.

Let's talk about your career up to this point. You've done a lot of Nickelodeon, you've made a Transformers film, you've been on Broadway, you have experience. What did you learn from Sicario 2?

Isabela Moner: You have to put so much more acting and character in the unspoken lines. There's all this internal dialogue. I wish there was a script of all the dialogue inside, between the lines. There's so much to be said. I learned to work a lot more with my eyes.

Now lets discuss your future. You've been cast as Dora the Explorer. That's correct?

Isabela Moner: Yes, versatility is important. For Dora, I wasn't sure I wanted to do it. I wanted to go on a serious path. Then I read the script. It's really funny and action-packed. It's almost like a Jumanji type movie. I figure that I'm going to do what the hell I want. Give it my best, I think it's really important not to be pinned as a certain type of actress.

Dora is a Latina icon. You're famous now, but are you ready for the level of fame that Dora will bring? Are you worried about not being able to walk down a street?

Isabela Moner: No, no, that would be horrible. I guess I didn't think about that. But I think we need more Latina heroines in this industry. Marvel hasn't done it yet.

Good point, well said.

Isabela Moner: Yeah, there really isn't any Latina or even Asian people represented. Hopefully we get there. I believe we're on a good path, overall, with representation. I hope that it becomes the norm. And it's not, oh here Latino community, we're doing you a favor so you'll pay us more money.

Sicario 2 is such a dark film. I assume Dora will be the definition of family friendly. Do you think it may detract from getting edgier roles?

Isabela Moner: In general, it's all acting. If people follow my career, they'll see there's variety. Hopefully my performance in this movie is good enough to sell that. I try to put myself in different situations, but I'm not really worried about that. I do have a music career as well. That's picking up. I'm really not worried about my image overall. I want versatility, like J-Lo, or Beyonce. She can do a movie one minute, then sell an album the next. That's the dream.

Let's step away from career and talk about your personal life. You're obviously very busy. What do you do to relax, decompress?

Isabela Moner: I like to watch The Office, over and over and over again. It's great, one of the best shows in the history of television. But also, I like to read. I honestly don't like to socialize, because my job is to socialize.

What have you read recently that you really liked?

Isabela Moner: Currently, I'm on "Less than Zero" by Brett Easton Ellis. Then I have "Like Water for Chocolate" next.

Wow, I'm impressed, both are tremendous books. Our time is running out, but I have to ask you, you're a Cleveland girl. Do you follow Cleveland sports?

Isabela Moner: Yes, I am actually really depressed right now. It's fine. I'll follow LeBron [James] wherever he goes. I'm glad that he's brought us to the finals so many times.

As a Cavs fan, what would you say to LeBron to keep him in Cleveland?

Isabela Moner: I love the note he wrote when he returned to the Cavs. I respect the city that brought me up. I hope to raise it too. I hope he sticks to his words, because I want to do the same thing. I'm tired of flying to LA and New York. I want to be home and do what I love.


Update (7/11): Collider got the chance to talk to Dora the Explorer producer Andrew Form about the movie whilst he was promoting A Quiet Place being released on home media:

"Dora the Explorer is a very different kind of project for Platinum Dunes. What attracted you to that material, and what can you tease about the film?

FORM: Well it starts filming in five weeks. I have young kids. It’s amazing when you have young children what you start watching on television and what you start reading in books. We were working with the Ninja Turtles, we were working with Nickelodeon, and they started talking about bringing that to the big screen and they were like this could actually be something really, really cool."

Check out Collider's full interview with Form here!

More Nick: Plot Of Nickelodeon Movies' 'Wonder Park' Revealed!

Originally published: Monday, June 18, 2018.

Additional source: Toonado.
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