Disney Animation is the stuff of legends, so when we had the chance to chat with the mega-talented Pilar Flynn from the upcoming Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, we jumped at the chance. Over zoom, we spoke with Flynn about everything Lunella Lafayette.
Pilar Flynn is an Emmy-nominated producer and one of the EPS and co-showrunners of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Outside of Moon Girl, she’s best known for her work on Disney’s Elena of Avalor.
You can catch our interview on The Cosmic Cafe below or most apps where podcasts are available. For email updates to The Cosmic Circle and Cosmic Cafe podcasts subscribe here or follow on Twitter @cosmicpodcasts.
Throughout our interview, we talked about animation styles and influences, including the pop and stop style, one of Moon Girl’s hallmarks. Flynn shared her thoughts on representation and sophisticated storytelling. And we even talked about just if and where in the MCU Moon Girl fits and what Avenger she’d most likely team up with.
- 00:00 – Intro
- 00:34 – Interview with Pilar Flynn begins, introduction
- 01:35 – What does a producer do?
- 04:00 – What’s the story of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur?
- 05:50 – Talk about the show’s writing, sophisticated and fun, a show for adults and kids.
- 08:05 – Talk about the decision to “age up” Lunella Lafayette from 9 to 13 years old.
- 09:48 – They are in contact with the creators of the original comics Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder. They are “so excited” and “on board.”
- 10:21 – Talk about animation influences for the show.
- 12:54 – Talk about cast and crew and the importance of diversity.
- 16:35 – About Diamond White casting as Lunella
- 18:05 – Where were you when you got the call about season 2 being greenlit?
- 19:30 – Anything else you’d like people to know about the show?
- 20:35 – Does this show fit into the larger MCU at all?
- 20:12 – If Moon Girl could team up with any Avenger, who would it be?
- 21:56 – Outro
What we know about Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur
The show Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur follows the travails of 13-year-old Lunella Lafayette as she protects the lower east side from threats big and small. Lunella is a genius and may even be the most brilliant character in Marvel comics.
While trying to help put an end to gnarly blackouts that have been plaguing her neighborhood, Lunella accidentally conjures up a T-Rex through a time portal. And thus, a friendship is born between Lunella and the 10-ton Devil Dinosaur.
Lunella Lafayette, aka Moon Girl, is voiced by Diamond White. Libe Barer voices Casey, her media-savvy friend, and partner. Fred Tatasciore voices Devil Dinosaur.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is a show with family as a central theme, so it’s fitting that the voice actors that play her family members are stars in their own right. Pops is voiced by Gary Anthony Williams. Her grandmother, Mimi, is voiced by Alfre Woodard. James Jr., her dad, is voiced by Jermaine Fowle, and giving pipes to Lunella’s mom, Adria, is Sasheer Zamata.
If those names weren’t talent enough, Laurence Fishburne, one of the reasons the show was made in the first place, voices the supervillain The Beyonder.
As with most Marvel stories, the show’s premise started in a comic book. Lunella Lafayette first leaped to life on the page in 2015 as envisioned by writers Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, and artist Natacha Bustos.
The six episodes of the season will be available when the show arrives on Disney +, with the second batch coming at a yet-to-be-announced date. But Disney and Marvel are so confident about the show that they’ve already greenlit and begun working on a second season.
Highlights from my interview with Pilar Flynn
Our full interview is available on the Cosmic Cafe podcast, but we’ve highlighted some of the most exciting bits of the conversation below.
[Editor’s note: This text has been edited slightly for clarity.]
Differences between Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur comics and the show
AR: “Now Lu is aged up from the comics a little bit. And you have her at that 13-year-old age. Can you talk about the decision to do that and maybe some of the differences from the comics? And you mentioned the writers’ room, which is amazing – and just figuring out and adapting the comic book for TV because that’s a whole different thing.”
PF: “Absolutely, yes, in the comics, she’s nine years old. But in the comics, she also faces a lot of pretty serious, heavy themes. So in developing her, we felt that, well, first of all, Middle School is such an interesting time and coming-of-age time, and it just felt like the right place for her to be in her coming-of-age story. But we also felt that the age of 13 would allow for us to explore heavier themes, kind of like you were mentioning. So yeah, it just felt organic and right for her.”
“Other differences are that in the comic, she’s an Inhuman, and there’s a whole kind of backstory having to do with Terrigen Mist, and we don’t have that. We wanted her to be a super genius from birth. We wanted her to be a regular girl who, you know, only uses her brain as their superpower.”
“And yes, she brings a dinosaur into her dimension. But it’s really her passion for protecting the Lower East Side and her community and her embracing her brains that is her superpower in our version.”
“Also, in the comics, she tends to be more of a loner, she’s more brooding, and our Lunella has a beautiful community of friends. Her family, who she’s really close to, Casey, who’s, like I say, another little girl that kind of supports her and is there to fight alongside her. And yeah, she’s bubbly and fun and much lighter, you know, for a younger audience. So yeah, I’d say those are the main differences. But we did all that very consciously. And purposely.”
On having a diverse cast and crew and why it matters
AR: “Now, so two things; I’d love to talk more about the crew and the cast because I think I read a stat that it was like 80% was women or people of color. And that’s incredible. And I love that. And I just want to hear more about that because it matters.”
PF: “Absolutely. Oh my gosh, it matters so much. That is something I’m so incredibly proud of. And again, we were so conscious about that from the beginning. And it is not easy to do. Because, you know, there is a huge gap, there’s a huge gap between diverse talent that is just starting out versus who gets to see the table and who has enough experience to kind of be a leader in the room.”
“And because of that giant gap, we were determined to close that gap as quickly as possible, especially for the show to us because this was a show about two little girls of color. We wanted to tell it authentically, and we wanted the cast to reflect them in their world, but we wanted the crew behind the scenes to also reflect their experiences and the stories we were trying to tell.”
“So from the beginning, we started looking for, okay, who’s the diverse talent out there? And, you know, you usually get the same old resumes, the same old kind of group of people. But because we started off with leaders who were diverse and super passionate about this, we ourselves went out, and kind of like searched on Instagram, you know, reached out to people.”
“And I’ll tell you one of the things holding a lot of diverse people back or this incredible town back is the belief that they’re wanted or that you want them for their talents and not just for tokenism. And it made a huge difference that it was people like myself or Rodney Clouden or Ben Juwano are reaching out personally to them going, ‘No, I’m here, I will take care of you. I’m here to support you. We’re all here to hold hands together.’ So a lot of times, we had to convince people to come over, especially if we were doing a show that no one knows what it is. [crosstalk] and was entitled to share.”
“How are you going to convince them to come over to you versus the other 100 of, you know, 100 shows, you know, reaching out to them, especially nowadays? So yeah, once we started that kind of rolling mojo, we within the crew immediately started mentoring those people sharing that mission, asking them to collaborate and, you know, tell us their ideas for the show.”
“And so slowly, we started kind of growing into that. And yeah, exactly what you said; we ended up having an 84% diverse crew which means it’s 84% women, people of color, or members of the LGBTQ+ community. And it makes such a difference.”
“The stories we’re telling, the ideas that come, and the more we hired that community of people, the more they knew others that were excited to come on because now, you know, they could believe and trust that person saying, yes, it’s an amazing show.”
On how Diamond White got the role of Lunella Lafayette
AR: “Now, as far as casting, obviously, there’s Laurence Fishburne. But how did Diamond White come on to the project? How did you find her and her voice?”
PF: “So Diamond came on before I came onto the project. And I know that the second they heard her voice, they knew she was Moon Girl. [crosstalk] And when I came onto the project too, I was like, how did they find this incredible artist, this incredibly talented young lady?”
“So she had been on Broadway, she had been on The Lion King, and she played Nala on Broadway there. And she had also been a voice on Lion Guard for Disney Television Animation. So I know, our casting team kind of knew of her and about her and her singing abilities.”
“So yeah, um, the audition process, I think it was a small handful of people they originally put forward, and the original team developing it like I say, heard her and knew she was perfect. And I can completely attest to that because to this day, she just completely embodies the character; she adds such a level of authenticity.”
“I know she says she loves coming into record because she feels like her 13-year-old self again. And she so relates to Moon Girl because she herself grew up as this nerdy, quirky, you know, quote, unquote, outcast who now is learning to step into her power and learning to embrace all that she is.”
“And you could tell it’s been such a beautiful journey for her. And it’s been such a beautiful journey for us seeing her grow, you know, in her confidence and her success. So yeah, hopefully, we do many more seasons together.”
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur premieres on February 10th, on the Disney Channel. It will make its way over to Disney+ on February 15th. In the meantime, be sure to check out our reading guide to the Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur comics.