Before Disney+ launched on November 12th, 2019, and became a world-wide phenomenon, I had the pleasure of previewing some of the shows being featured on the new streaming service while visiting the Walt Disney Studios lot in California. One of those shows was an updated retelling of the Disney classic, Lady and The Tramp, this time being told through the perspective of a live action film. After screening the show, we had the unique opportunity to interview two of its stars, its “villains, ” if you will. Yvette Nicole Brown and Adrian Martinez respectively portrayed Aunt Sarah and Elliott, the dog catcher, the two more notorious humans in the movie. Early on in the interview, I was able to sneak in one of the questions from my list and their answers will stay with me forever.
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Special Moments with Lady and The Tramp stars, Yvette Nicole Brown and Adrian Martinez
There we were ~ our small group sitting in the theatre on the Walt Disney Studios property – just taking it all in. It was absolutely the surreal experience so many dream of having in their lifetime. Add to that the pixie dusted privilege of watching something in that famous theatre before the rest of the world does ~ just mind-boggling, to say the least. Of course, top the magical experience off by sitting in those comfortable theatre seats directly in front of two actors who starred in the movie we just previewed. There is honestly no other way to say it. This was just another dream come true.
Set the scene
We had just finished screening Lady and The Tramp, which was a beautiful retelling (in my opinion) of a Disney Classic. Sure, there are certainly aspects of the film that have become quite the topic of conversation. However, all in all, the talent, the story, the CGI ~ all worth the effort put into it and quite deserving of our attention as an audience.
As our group readjusted ourselves in our seats for the next event, down the theatre aisle came two of the movie’s stars – Yvette Nicole Brown and Adrian Martinez. I admit it – I had a chill run down my spine. It wasn’t a paralyzing chill – just one that energized my excitement a little more. This was it – it was time to put our journalistic skills to work!
About the stars
Yvette Nicole Brown
Yvette Nicole Brown is an American actress, voice actress and host with a plethora of commercials, TV shows and movie spots to boast. In the live action version of Lady and the Tramp, Yvette plays Aunt Sarah. Now, while she has taken on challenging roles in the past, this role was ironic for her in that Yvette is actually a dog person! She almost didn’t want to pursue the role of the pompous aunt.
“I know the limits of my acting ability,” she stated. “I love dogs too much and I can’t pretend to hate dogs.”
She wasn’t quite sure she could or wanted to pull off being “mean” or “cruel” to the four-legged actors portraying Lady and Tramp. However, her mother reminded her that this was a Disney film, an iconic film. Ultimately, Mom was able to convince Daughter that she needed to attend the audition.
**Psst – Yvette is well known on the big screen and television alike. She is even admired by my teenage sons, who know her very well from her role in Avengers: Endgame. Yeah – they were pretty excited to hear I had the chance to hug on this beautiful woman!!
Adrian Martinez is an actor, writer, producer AND director with over 100 film and TV credits to his name. In the Disney+ live action movie, he takes on the role of the persistent, determined, single-minded dog catcher. Like Yvette, Adrian portrayed yet another character whose behavior towards dogs in the movie is not exactly favorable. However, the question with which the updated version leaves us is whether or not we truly understand the dog catcher’s perspective. Is there a reason he doesn’t like dogs? Is there something about his position we simply don’t understand?
My Role In The Interview
The entire Geekly Retreat experience was created to give emerging and aspiring entertainment writers the opportunity to implement the skills they have been trying to hone. We were all encouraged to ask questions, get active and be involved ~ and this was our chance to shine.
I remember the process of trying to come up with a list of questions to ask. I thought about them at home, on the plane, in the hotel room and even in my seat there in the theatre. However, while I sat there with my list ready to fire off, only one question kept popping back into memory.
“I would love to know if there were any moments on set with the dogs that you will carry with you forever.”
For Yvette, the answer was not clear cut. There was no specific moment to denote. To her, EVERY moment on set with those dogs was precious. She cherished any opportunity she was granted to get down (when not in her corset) and play with them. She knew that was a “corny” answer, but it was the only one she could give with confidence.
Interestingly enough, prior to filming this movie, Yvette never thought she could personally own a dog. Despite her tremendous affection for them, she just felt she couldn’t provide the perfect home situation. She would have wanted the dog to have a good life and felt that her job would create more of a scenario where the dog was home all day – alone, crated. This was just not an ideal situation in her eyes.
However, now she takes care of her father, who has dementia. While on set, she began to feel as though her new situation was more conducive to bringing a furbaby into her life. The dog would become a great companion for her father and her father a great companion for the dog. She realized ~ it was finally time to adopt.
And, with that, Yvette adopted Harley, one of the dogs from the cast who had been slated to portray Lady. In fact, once the film had finally wrapped, every dog on set was adopted by either cast or crew.
After asking the same question of “Mr. Martinez,” I was first quickly corrected by the actor. “Please call me ‘Adrian.'”
Well, that was a moment I’ll carry with ME forever.
Adrian’s answer was a little more precise. He was particularly affected by the scene towards the end where he was trying to take Tramp away and Darling said to him, “No, he has a home!.”
“That scene got to me,” Adrian stated. “It got to me on the filming.” For him, that was the moment where his character, ‘Elliott,’ came full circle. He had started out very cold, very driven to rid the streets of strays. By the end, with the moment just described, ‘Elliott’ realized that it was all about family and connection.
Even though both Yvette and Adrian’s characters demonstrated harsh behavior towards the dogs, there were no hard feelings between them. Both actors shared stories of reuniting with Rose and Monte, the two primary fur-actors who took on the lead roles. Whether it was Miami or New York, the dogs, without hesitation, recognized them both, jumped up to greet them and immediately smothered them with “kisses.”
What the trainer did to help
In order to create a reunion with that kind of a response, the dogs had to be trained to recognize Yvette and Adrian as real people who loved dogs. One of the trainers on set did something to ensure that the relationship between the “villains” in the movie and the four-legged main characters was grounded in trust.
Before and after each of the actors had to be “horrible” towards the dogs, the trainer would find time for the humans to spend time with them. This way, the dogs understood that these nice people did actually love them. There were no scars left – physically or emotionally. The dogs were able to see that Yvette and Adrian were not the mean characters they were portraying on set.
Adrian even recalled for us the weekend he went to the camp where the dogs lived and were cared for in Savannah. He immensely enjoyed their playtime together and vividly remembers that there were a lot of treats.
While I didn’t share this personally with Adrian during the interview, I held back a few tears when he was talking about a personal connection for him with the movie. During the filming, he had a dog named Milo. Sadly, Milo passed recently and it was heartbreaking. All I could do in that moment was remember our sweet Cody. He crossed the Rainbow Bridge just after Thanksgiving last year. Becoming attached to dogs is easy to do for many. They are a part of the family, a loved one. Losing them can be devastating.
However, the memories we created with them during their lifetime with us will be the moments we cherish forever.
Having the opportunity to have such an amazing conversation with these two actors was eye-opening in many respects. I’ve only covered one aspect of the interview here and there is so much more that we each carried away. I will leave you with this ~ something that Yvette said that made us all melt. Yvette shared with us,
“I thought the greatest gift of this experience would be to get to be in a Disney film.” Instead, “the greatest gift is my…furbaby.”
Looking to adopt a dog?
In theory, bringing a dog into the home seems like a loving thing to do. However, before taking that step, please consider the work, the love and the effort that needs to be put into caring for that living, breathing creature. If you are unable to provide the healthcare, provisions and love that a dog needs to thrive, please reconsider. However, if you have the heart to pour into a new four-legged family member ~ enjoy the memories you’re about to create together.
Finally, have you seen Lady and The Tramp yet on Disney+? You can read my review of the movie here: Lady and The Tramp on Disney+ | The Fresh, Updated Retelling and then share your thoughts below.
MOVIE TIDBIT: The movie is set in the early 20th century. However, it was designed to allow our imaginations to see it through the eyes of diversity. It’s as if there are no boundaries, no cultural restrictions. All we see is talent and a romantic tale being shared in its best possible light. Enjoy!
FINALLY, CHECK OUT THIS SPECIAL MOMENT I HAD WITH YVETTE NICOLE BROWN AT THE FROZEN 2 RED CARPET PREMIERE!!
AMAZON PICKS FOR THE LADY AND THE TRAMP FAN IN YOU OR YOUR FAMILY