We've all heard of dogs being referred to as man's best friend. But as we'll see in "Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur," Lunella Lafayette has skipped right over a puppy, kitty, and even a hamster to find a friend in a time-displaced Tyrannosaurus rex named Devil.
In this new cartoon executive produced by Laurence Fishburne's Cinema Gypsy Productions and Marvel Animation, "The Bold and the Beautiful" actress Diamond White plays super genius Lunella, while veteran voice performer Fred Tatasciore from "Star Trek: Lower Decks" (and probably a hundred or more other things you've definitely seen) brings her T-rex friend to life.
At New York Comic Con, we had a chance to speak with the Marvel Universe's newest dynamic duo about their show (which has already received a second season order before the first one even airs), the titular heroes, and what makes them tick. Plus, both White and Tatasciore express how excited they are for True Believers of all ages to see Disney Channel's latest Marvel animated series and learn from all the Moon Girl Magic.
Note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.
'I Had To Just Tap Into My Playful 13-Year-Old Weirdo'
Diamond, Moon Girl is such an important character for a number of reasons. Because of her, things like representation and STEM are put into the superhero spotlight. How does it feel for you to bring a character like this to life? Did you feel any pressure taking on such an important role?
White: There was a lot of pressure, but my name is Diamond, so it made sense. [laughs] No, there was a ton of pressure, because I know how important this role is for a lot of people, including myself. But I had to just tap into my playful 13-year-old weirdo, because Lunella is all about quantum physics, all about her books, and that is what makes her a superhero, because technically she doesn't have any superpowers. She's just one of the smartest people in the Marvel universe. So it's cool to be that kid that's like, your head in the books to quantum physics. It's awesome.
For me, it's really cool doing the screaming. [laughs] Of course, doing the music and playing off of [my co-star Libe Barer], as well. She plays my best friend, Casey. ["Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur" is about] all that friendship, community, and protecting the LES [Lower East Side]. It's a great show.
Fred, you've been a mainstay of the Marvel universe and have provided voices to a ton of characters like Hulk, The Thing, Juggernaut, and Beast. Literally, we could spend this entire interview naming all the people you've played. So how does it feel to take on a character like Devil Dinosaur, who is such a departure from the other ones that you've played?
Tatasciore: What I love about Devil Dinosaur is, though he is a dinosaur, there's such humanity and that's the kind of thing I want to bring to animation. I love being able to be that character, someone who loves Lunella, would do anything for her, protects his family, his friends. But he's a 10-ton dog. He's a sweetheart. I love what they had him be. He's a musician, he loves to paint, he's a cuddler, he's a good soul. And as tough and scary a force of nature as he is, his heart is even bigger.
'There's A Lot Of Experiences You Can Take From The Show'
One of the cool things with the Marvel universe is that they've always had this tradition of showing the world outside your window. The blackouts in the Lower East Side are a big part of the first episode and that's just the first of many socioeconomic issues from the real world that this show explores. What are some real world elements that you're excited to explore in the show?
White: What I like about shows [is that] they let me experience or tell the story of my experiences growing up as a Black girl. There's this one episode about how Lunella wants to straighten her hair, then her hair becomes a villain. So it explains the experience of growing up as a Black girl and it's very real. There's a lot of experiences you can take from the show.
Superheroes love team ups, and obviously Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur are great partners, but are there any other Marvel heroes that you hope to team up with in the show as it progresses?
Tatasciore: There are some that are coming up. You'll be surprised.
White: Can't spoil anything.
Tatasciore: Can't spoil anything yet, but you'll be amazed at what's coming. And it's coming.
'That's Called Synchrony'
What are some elements of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur that you wish you had in shows that you watched while growing up, but are now proud to bring to this generation?
White: I would say the Mix Tape Moments. When we're fighting crime, there's a sick soundtrack that happens underneath it and it's really, really, really cool.
Tatasciore: Yeah, I have to agree with that. The music for each villain and the different genres. Also, there's a visual component. I love seeing the emojis and science being broken down in front of us as a visual. The components of voice and speech and sound are actually visualized. I think that's called synchrony. I love it.
Speaking of music, every episode features amazing songs from Raphael Saadiq. Fans have gotten to hear Diamond sing in the incredible opening sequence for the show, which was released at New York Comic Con. Fred, does Devil get to drop a verse or two?
Tatasciore: I love the opening song. [It] just gets me drawn in every time. And then, yes, fortunately they let Devil do some beats and some lines and some singing and some [beatboxing as a dinosaur]. You'll see it. It's coming. [Record scratch noises, but as a dinosaur]
'I Worry About The Place Sometimes'
Since every superhero needs a place to hide out, Moon Girl has her lab in the abandoned train tunnel. What are some of your favorite features of the lab and what are some that you'd like to add to it?
White: Honestly, I think Lunella needs a hot dog maker.
Tatasciore: [as Devil] YES!
White: She goes around town to the little trolleys getting hot dogs for Devil, but if she's going to have a 10-ton dinosaur in her lair, then she needs to have a hot dog maker.
Tatasciore: Yes, and less breakable things. Maybe a softer environment for [when] things to get thrown around and exploded.
White: Like a padded room?
Tatasciore: [laughs] I don't know! I worry about the place sometimes when I watch the show.
White: Me too.
At least Devil does his part by cleaning up a little bit.
Tatasciore: Yes! He's actually a really good guy. I mean, he's a lovable 10-ton force of nature that actually is kind of the Boy Scout. He actually really doesn't like to side with the bad guys and tries to do what he's supposed to do. It's very interesting.
'We Couldn't Roll With It On Our Own'
The Lafayettes' family motto is "roll with it." Considering everything that Lunella and Devil have to roll with this season, do you think you could roll with as much as they do in the Lower East Side?
White: [shakes head]No.
Tatasciore: I'd like to think so, but it takes me a minute, but I'm learning. I'm trying.
White: I don't know if I could roll with it, especially through all the episodes that we've been a part of. Rolling with all of that back to back to back to back to back?
Tatasciore: It's a lot of pressure.
White: It's a lot of pressure. Me personally, I don't think I could roll with it. But Lunella, her smarts and her brain, along with Devil and Casey, they can roll with it. But me, I don't have a support system like that, so I would not be able to roll with it.
Tatasciore: You know, you bring up a really great point there, Diamond. It's the support system and I really feel it is not only the family at large that runs the roller rink, but the three of them are really a support system for each other. Where [some are] strong, the [others are] not, they help each other and that's the team. And you couldn't just do it on your own. Devil was on his own before the portal. He didn't like it over there. He's happy here with them. So I think that's a good point: We couldn't roll with it on our own.
In terms of the team, Casey and Devil are drawn to Lunella pretty quickly after meeting her for the first time. What is the Moon Girl Magic formula that makes Lunella Lafayette so magnetic?
White: Well, Lunella would not be the superhero that she is without Devil and Casey. Casey is her social media/PR girl. Devil is her partner in crime, where she is the brains and he is the brawn. And without that little trifecta, there would be no Moon Girl.
Tatasciore: And to tag onto that with Moon Girl, why she's so magnetic is not only her brilliance, but it's her heart. She could have been brilliant, but the very fact that she took the time and the knowledge to learn Devil's language and speak to him and bring him in as a family member, that speaks everything to Devil and to others. What does she want to do? She wants to help not only the roller rink, but help New York. Yeah. That's why people love her. It's who she is. It's her heart.
'It's A Real Family Show'
It feels like your whole crew on "Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur" is a big family both on-screen and off. How do you think your own families are going to react once the show comes out and they can see it for themselves?
White: My grandmother is going to be tuning in [and] trying to figure out the passwords to each Disney+ account, like, "I need to watch this!" But yeah, it's a show for families. The age range on this show, I feel, is for everyone, because of all the lessons that it teaches. And I could just see from my mom's amazement that even older people will sit down and watch it and actually learn something with their kids.
Tatasciore: That's the big plus. It's very educational and it exposes people to art and to music from all across the board. It's a real family show. I am excited to have my four-year-old [watch more of it]. I want to get some street cred because he loves dinosaurs. He saw one episode [at a screening with an audience and] he doesn't know it's me. But he empathized so much with the dinosaur that even sad parts that were funny, he yelled, "It's not funny!" He yelled at [executive producer] Laurence Fishburne! [laughs] Everyone was fine [with it].
I am just excited to see him learning from that age on what's going on in science, that it's good to be a nerd, and enjoying it. Just enjoying it. I'm excited!
"Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur" premieres on the Disney Channel on February 10, 2023.
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