Who’s who in Wish? Well, here’s all Disney’s Wish characters explained – from Magnifico to Asha to Star to Valentino, and more. Wish comes to theaters November 22nd.
Disney’s Wish Characters Explained
“Wish” is set in the fictional kingdom of Rosas—its promise of wishes coming true has inspired people from around the world to call it home. Says director Fawn Veerasunthorn, “Rosas is an island at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula—it would logically have North African and Southern European influences. We also think that folks who traveled along the Silk Road might end up there.”
Adds director Chris Buck, “We were deeply inspired by influences from all over the world. For us, that affected everything from characters to costumes—including headwear and patterns—to architecture. It was pretty incredible.”
According to Veerasunthorn, filmmakers called on experts to ensure their references conveyed a feeling of authenticity. “We worked with cultural consultants on the clothing—what the fashion of the time might be, and we also worked with UCLA socio-cultural historical anthropologist, Professor Aomar Boum, to ensure the crossing of cultural influences that took place in the region during the Middle Ages was well represented.”
Led by 17-year-old Asha, the lineup of characters—from heroines and villains, to their family and friends, to a talking baby goat who, yes, wears pajamas—required a talented and engaging cast. According to producer Peter Del Vecho, cast members brought to the table unique points of view and a lot of talent. “Everything starts with a story,” he says. “And obviously being a musical, it was important not only to get great actors but actors who could also perform and sing. We go through a pretty extensive casting process and when you land on someone that you feel is bringing that character to life, you can feel it in the room.”
Casting director Grace Kim says the studio’s 100-year milestone figured into their criteria. “When first discussing this cast, we wanted to honor the legacy while not feeling like we were moving backwards in time,” she says. “We wanted to bring the legacy into the future and cast people and voices that felt timeless.”
ASHA is a sharp-witted idealist who treasures her family and community. As one of the island’s greeters, Asha’s is among the first faces people see when arriving in Rosas filled with hopes and dreams. Says Buck, “Asha is energetic—an enthusiastic member of her community who proudly shows off this incredible place where she’s grown up. She’s a believer. She’s driven to do what is right for Rosas, which really kicks in when she learns the king’s real plans for most of the wishes in his possession.”
Asha’s discovery puts her at odds with the charismatic king. “We meet Asha when she is completely accepting of the world she believes she lives in,” says writer/executive producer Jennifer Lee. “But what happens to you when you discover a truth that rocks your whole world? Do you ignore it? Do you try to live with it? Or do you recognize the responsibility you have to try to help your community? We get to watch her make that choice. We get to see her grow into the leader she probably never knew she was.”
Overwhelmed with an innate need to help her neighbors and friends and family, Asha turns to the sky and the stars. Her wish is so powerful, it summons an actual star from the sky.
Ariana DeBose lends her voice to Asha. “We’re very fortunate to have Ariana playing our lead character,” says Del Vecho. “She’d just been nominated for an Oscar for ‘West Side Story’ at the time we were casting for Asha—she later won best supporting actress—so our timing was perfect. Ariana’s a huge fan of Disney and understood how we saw Asha as a contemporary heroine. Ariana’s strength and personality really helped shape the character.”
Veerasunthorn wholeheartedly agrees. “Ariana totally brings that energy of Asha,” she says. “We were inspired by her performance from the first recording, thinking ‘Oh my goodness, this is even more Asha than we thought!’ We started incorporating a lot of physicality into Asha’s voice—she wears her heart on her sleeve. Ariana is very sincere in a fun way. She’s funny, too. We put all of that into the character.”
Disney’s Wish Characters Explained Continued…
KING MAGNIFICO is the most powerful person in the kingdom of Rosas, where wishes really do come true. People come from everywhere to give their wishes to Magnifico, a charming and confident king who promises to grant their deepest desires—someday. Only he can decide which wishes will come true and when. According to writer Allison Moore, the king’s motivation is not exactly honorable. “Magnifico seems to think wishes are just ideas. But they are a part of your heart—the very best part of your heart! Yet he’s holding them inside these wish bubbles—hundreds of them—and most will remain there forever because that’s how he controls the kingdom—by giving false hope.”
According to producer Juan Pablo Reyes Lancaster Jones, casting the character called for a special combination. “Magnifico has that personality that makes people trust him, and the actor chosen to play him needed to deliver on the complexity of being both charming and ultimately a complex villain,” he says. “The moment Chris Pine came up as a possibility, the moment everyone heard his voice—it just matched that image and the complexity of the role.”
Adds Lee, “Chris is obviously charismatic, and we needed that. He’s also brilliant and so smart—Magnifico had to be brilliant. Chris holds that character accountable. He brought that truth into the character, and it comes through with such authenticity. He can sing, too—he has such fantastic songs. He’s just the perfect storm.”
Disney’s Wish Characters Explained Continued…
STAR is a cosmic force—a little ball of boundless energy that inspires people to pursue their deepest wishes. According to director Chris Buck, the character went through many iterations before filmmakers found the perfect representation. “We wanted to convey the energy and hope and light in the simplest and purest way,” he says. “We decided that Star shouldn’t talk—it’s so much more effective as a pantomime character. This is something that Disney has done so well throughout its history. Audiences fall in love with these visual characters—they can give them their own voice. We all need a little Star in our life.”
Adds director Fawn Veerasunthorn, “For me personally, Star is like your inner voice. If you try to suppress that pure energy out of fear, Star is the personification of that drive that drags you along, stares you in the face and pushes you to do the thing you want to do.”
Disney’s Wish Characters Explained Continued…
VALENTINO is a confident and opinionated goat who follows Asha wherever she goes. The adorable pajama-wearing little guy could teach humans a thing or two about perseverance—that is, once Star magically gives him the power of speech. “He carries a big theme in this movie,” says Veerasunthorn. “He loves to climb but he’s not very good at it—he keeps falling down. But he refuses to be discouraged, saying, ‘With each fall I learn. I just keep going.’”
Disney Animation’s good luck charm Alan Tudyk provides the voice of Valentino—a voice decidedly different than one might expect of a pajama-clad baby animal. “He’s brilliant,” says Buck. “We’ll give him a line and maybe an alt or two and he’ll give us things we never thought of—Valentino’s low voice was unexpected to say the least.”
Adds casting director Grace Kim, “Alan is always on our minds! He can do it all so we’re very lucky that he’s in our world!”
QUEEN AMAYA is the wife and sounding board of King Magnifico. The kind and confident queen champions Asha in her pursuit of the one of the most coveted roles in the kingdom: the King’s apprentice. She is loving and devoted to her husband, but she’s not afraid to share her opinion with the ruler of Rosas. Filmmakers saw Amaya and Magnifico as a power couple—both in personality and appearance. “We looked at real-life power couples—people who are total winners,” says Bill Schwab, art director, characters. “Amaya and Magnifico look great together. They’re aspirational—larger than life. They command a room.”
Angelique Cabral lends her voice to Queen Amaya. “She has a comedy background and such warmth to her voice,” says Kim. “When we cut Angelique’s voice with Chris Pine’s, everyone felt they paired so well together.”
Disney’s Wish Characters Explained Continued…
SABINO is Asha’s 100-year-old grandfather. He is kind and loving and Asha adores him. “Once a month, one lucky person in Rosas gets their wish granted,” says head of story Mark Kennedy. “At 100, Sabino is still waiting. Patiently. But Asha isn’t as patient. She really wants Magnifico to grant Sabino’s wish. That’s one thing about Disney heroines—they tend to care a lot about other people and Asha is no exception.”
Victor Garber provides Sabino’s voice. “We want audiences to root for Sabino to get his wish—finally!” says director Chris Buck. “Victor Garber does that from the moment we meet Sabino. He lends his own likability and charm to the character and makes the sweet relationship between Asha and her grandfather really shine.”
SAKINA is Asha’s loving and supportive mom. She recognizes and celebrates her daughter’s passion—but, like all mothers, she still worries about her only child, especially as Asha begins to question their king’s motives. Head of story Mark Kennedy says Sakina is also a skilled and creative seamstress. “She’s the one who makes Valentino’s pajamas,” he says. Natasha Rothwell helps bring Sakina to life.
THE TEENS are Asha’s confidants, protectors and forever friends. They’re also a nod to the Disney legacy, according to writer Allison Moore. “They’re inspired by the seven dwarfs,” she says. “Each teen is inspired by a dwarf—they’re costumed in the same color pallete as their respective dwarf with whom they share a fun personality trait or two. Their names even begin with the same letter.”
- DAHLIA, Asha’s dearest friend, is an accomplished baker who creates her own kind of magic of the culinary variety, including cookies in the image of the king himself. “She’s inspired by Doc,” says Kennedy. “She’s the unofficial leader of the teens.” Jennifer Kumiyama lends her voice to Dahlia.
- SIMON is a buff guy with a big heart and bigger yawn. Inspired by Sleepy, Simon longs to be a warrior but is in a perpetual dreamy state. “He’s a bit of a gentle giant,” says Moore. Evan Peters voices Simon.
- GABO is quick with a comeback and has his eye on everything. He has a cynical side, to be sure, which makes sense considering he was inspired by Grumpy. But Gabo has a heart of gold—just don’t tell anyone. Says Moore, “He is the realist of the bunch. He’s the one who’s willing to tell his friends the hard truth about life.” Harvey Guillén provides the voice of Gabo.
- SAFI and his perpetually pink nose are inspired by Sneezy. Plagued by allergies and other nose-tickling elements, he is a stupendous sneezer. “It’s hard not to love Safi,” says Kennedy. Ramy Youseff lends his voice to sweet, sniffling character.
- HAL is Asha’s beaming buddy who manages to bring a little joy to most every situation. Inspired by Happy, Hal has the admirable ability of always looking on the bright side. “Even when she’s really nervous or scared she smiles,” says Moore. Niko Vargas voices Hal.
- BAZEEMA might seem shy at first, but she’s full of surprises. Based on Bashful, Bazeema keeps tabs on everyone from a safe distance—unless she has something important to offer. “She wears several layers to reinforce her shyness,” says associate production designer Griselda Sastrawinata-Lemay. Della Saba provides the voice of Bazeema.
- DARIO is a kind, rosy-cheeked young man who’s easy to love. Says Kennedy, “Dario has a great heart but he lives in his own world. Every now and then, however, he’ll say something unexpectedly brilliant and everybody’s like, ‘what’s going on?’” Dario is inspired by Dopey, and he’s got a good head on his shoulders—one flanked by an iconic detail: the character’s wiggly ears. Jon Rudnitsky lends his voice to Dario.
Meet all of these Wish characters, and more, when Wish comes to theaters everywhere on November 22nd!
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Wish” is an all-new musical-comedy welcoming audiences to the magical kingdom of Rosas, where Asha, a sharp-witted idealist, makes a wish so powerful that it is answered by a cosmic force – a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Together, Asha and Star confront a most formidable foe – the ruler of Rosas, King Magnifico – to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen.
Featuring the voices of Academy Award®-winning actor Ariana DeBose as Asha, Chris Pine as Magnifico, and Alan Tudyk as Asha’s favorite goat, Valentino, the film is helmed by Oscar®-winning director Chris Buck (“Frozen,” “Frozen 2”) and Fawn Veerasunthorn (“Raya and the Last Dragon”), and produced by Peter Del Vecho (“Frozen,” “Frozen 2”) and Juan Pablo Reyes Lancaster Jones (“Encanto”). Jennifer Lee (“Frozen,” “Frozen 2”) executive produces—Lee and Allison Moore (“Night Sky,” “Manhunt”) are writers on the project.
Wish features original songs by Grammy®-nominated singer/songwriter Julia Michaels and Grammy-winning producer/songwriter/musician Benjamin Rice, plus score by composer Dave Metzger.
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Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association, and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.