Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Jennifer Lee Talks ‘Frozen 3,’ ‘Wish’ and Relying on ‘Cinderella’ as an Escape When She Was Bullied in School


The latest on Frozen 3, thoughts on the upcoming Wish and her memories of how watching Cinderella helped her when she used to get bullied in school where among the topics Jennifer Lee, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ chief creative officer and writer and director on the Frozen films, discussed in London on Thursday.

In a BFI London Film Festival Spotlight talk at the Picturehouse Central cinema in the British capital during the Walt Disney Co.’s centennial year, she was asked about what she could say about more Frozen coming in the future. “Every morning last week they carved out space for me to work with the creative team on it. And I’m blown away, and I’m so excited,” she shared.

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For now at least, her role on the film is “doing what I do now, which is we work on every project as a team.”

Lee is also a writer and executive producer on Wish, the story of how Disney’s wishing star came to be, directed by Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn. It features original songs by Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Julia Michaels. But in a case similar to Encanto, the studio will have to decide what song or songs to enter for Oscar consideration by Nov. 1, ahead of the movie’s release date. That could lead to a repeat of Encanto, for which the ballad “Dos Oruguitas” got an Oscar nomination, but “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” — which went on to become the studio’s biggest hit ever from a movie, sitting atop the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks — did not.

Lee said Chris Pine brought a lot to the Wish villain, Magnifico, explaining the character was probably the most detailed bad guy in a Disney film ever. No other villain has ever gone on “this expansive” a journey, she suggested.

Lee also discussed being bullied in school and how watching Cinderella helped her back then. “In middle school, I was very severely bullied,” she recalled. “I had a very, very difficult three years, and I would come home and put Cinderella on when I would do homework, because to me, it seemed like she was so mistreated and she held on to herself.”

Added Lee: “For anyone who’s gone through that, it’s hard. You believe the noise, and she never did. … For a lot of us probably Disney was an escape, but it was also someplace telling you that there was always something better to come.”

Addressing the importance of making films timely in the current age, she said Disney was aiming for both timeliness and timelessness in its animation work.


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