If you need another reason to celebrate Disney+ Day on November 12, look no further! Your favorite snowman Olaf now has his own show, and you don’t want to miss it. Olaf Presents is an all-new series of animated shorts starring fun-loving Frozen and Frozen 2 snowman Olaf! Watch Olaf transform into a mermaid, lion, and more as he retells the stories of Walt Disney Animation Studios classics like never before.
To learn more about this exciting new series, we caught up with four friends of the Frozen team at the recent Olaf Presents Global Press Conference. Patti Murin, who originated the role of Anna in Frozen: The Broadway Musical, sat down with three key cast and crew members who helped bring Olaf Presents to life. They included Jennifer Newfield, who produced the show; director Hyrum Osmond, who also helped define the character and performance for Olaf as a supervising animator in Frozen; and actor Josh Gad, who voices Olaf!
The hilarious, carefree nature of Olaf combined with beloved Disney Animation storylines easily makes the show perfect for everyone. Set in the icy Frozen world of Arendelle, Olaf creatively portrays the characters of five Disney Animation classics: The Lion King, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Tangled, and Moana. “All five take place where Olaf can tell those stories,” said Newfield. When considering which stories the team would tell, she shared that they were excited about “...locking those in early because Olaf would have educated himself and read these stories, and wanted to tell them. So, they all take place before Arendelle existed, too. So that was really a deciding factor.” Viewers can look forward to hearing iconic lines from all of these films, all while watching Olaf use props he finds in Arendelle to set the scenes.
According to director Hyrum Osmond, the task of creating more Olaf adventures was just as fun and whimsical as our favorite snowman is! “I think one of the things that's so great, you know, we talked about the inspiration of these films. But it's also just taking the liberty to not take ourselves too seriously,” he said. And I think that is just so fun. And especially when you start telling these things from the perspective of this pure, sort of naive Olaf, right. Like, the way he sees it. I mean, you can't help but have some of these fun moments.” He has spent years crafting Olaf’s personality with a perfect balance of writing and direction. Most recently, Osmond directed the At Home With Olaf series, which premiered on the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ YouTube channel in 2020.
The opportunity to put a special spin on Disney Animation classics was something that each member of the panel cherished for different reasons. For Josh Gad, his favorite part of this project was the joy of seeing great Disney Animation tales through Olaf’s eyes. “You know, revisiting moments from all of the films was a joy. But specifically, the movies I grew up with, selfishly,” he said. “So, I was at that perfect age during the second golden age of Disney Animation. I remember seeing The Little Mermaid in the theatre and being, like, what is this? Why? It feels like a Broadway show on screen. It was like the first time I can remember applauding in a theatre after the songs were done. So, getting to go back and specifically revisit those films was a dream come true. And then getting to, sort of play in the footsteps of my idol, Robin Williams in the world of Aladdin. Hyrum and Jen can tell you that that was sort of like a pinch myself, very emotional experience for me.”
Producer Jennifer Newfield joked that one of her top experiences on the project was “...listening to Josh sing ‘A Whole New World,’ but in Olaf's voice!” As we began to imagine Gad’s fun rendition of the classic song, Newfield shared that her actual favorite part was the freedom and fun she had crafting the show. “Just being able to play, I mean, I think that was the theme throughout the entire production is, let's play,” she said. “And I think that our collaboration efforts, kind of in the way that we went about it, was in that way. And we knew that we could take liberties, which is not often the case, especially in animation. We have to be very precise with our decisions. And I think the playfulness the whole way through, from the script writing to the recording sessions, all the way to animators really being able to kind of take the reins a little bit and be able to just enjoy that freedom is so nice.”
As director and veteran animator Hyrum Osmond worked on the project, he found himself having an epiphany moment working with the same Disney films that inspired him to become an animator as a kid. “I saw Aladdin, like, eight times in the theatre. I just remember just being blown away by these films. And so that was kind of a special thing, almost a bit of a tribute to those films that were so inspirational.” Anyone who tunes into Olaf’s shenanigans in the show can undoubtedly look forward to the same Disney magic!
Celebrate Disney+ Day with us and catch Olaf Presents, now streaming exclusively on Disney+.