In Disney’s Secret Society of Second-Born Royals, an original movie from Disney Channel premiering on Disney+ September 25th, five princes and princesses discover that they have secret powers to help protect their kingdom. The cast and director recently took time out of their busy schedule to talk to the media about the on-set fun and why they loved making this film.
“It was a really exciting opportunity to work with Disney and to do something that really felt like a modern-day coming-of-age princess movie,” Director Anna Mastro shared about her approach to making the film. “And when you think about a traditional princess movie, what I wanted to do was make something that felt unique and also just really grounded and really modern in the sense that it was relatable. I think we all grew up watching these Disney princess movies and we'll probably never look like that and we'll probably never live in a palace like that… We wanted to create a world that didn't exist but that could exist in reality. And so I think that was sort of the point of it, and then to merge it with superheroes was really part of that coming-of-age journey of not everybody can relate to having powers or to being royalty, but what they can relate to is that feeling of being different. Or that feeling of having something that you think might almost be wrong with you or that is unique about you. But figuring out that those strengths actually make you unique and special and can help you find your place in the world, I think that part of it was really universal, and that's what we wanted to infuse in the whole movie from the beginning and create this kind of modern, different princess superhero movie. That was really the goal.”
Peyton Elizabeth Lee, best known as the titular character in Disney’s Andi Mack, was eager to get into the role. “I was super excited when I found out that I was going to be a Disney Princess. Who gets to say that?,” she shared. “It's such this iconic group of people, and so to sort of be a part of that was really exciting. And then when I found out that it was not going to be your typical Disney Princess but that they're second-borns and that they don't fit that sort of princess and prince mold, that just made me much more excited because it's so important that we sort of break out of what people think you should be. I just think it's a really great story and having these princesses and princes that aren't typical is gonna be really exciting and fun to see.”
All of the second-born royals had to go through several weeks of stunt training, but Peyton’s character also required some singing. Anna Mastro explained that this included vocal lessons and even learning to play guitar. “Crista Russo, who is part of a band called Powers, actually wrote all the original music for our movie,” Anna Mastro shared. “And Matt Mullins is like this amazing stunt coordinator who I have spent many years working with and he trained all these kids and choreographed these incredible fights… I think you guys all had a lot of fun doing the stunt training,” she said to the stars of the film on the video conference.
“When I booked the role, I was 130 pounds,” explained Niles Fitch who plays Tuma and decided to bulk up for the part. “In my head, I'm seeing Chris Evans and Chadwick Boseman and I'm seeing a bunch of muscular men, so I was like’ I gotta try to get in shape.’ I gained 20-plus pounds and I think the heaviest I was at was like 156 in Toronto, and when you're 17, that's difficult. Especially not even eating candy and stuff like that, so that was what I went through to get prepared for the role.”
The main cast is diverse, not only in terms of gender or ethnicity, but also in the types of characters they are. “It's really important for me with every movie I make, and especially going forward, and this one in particular because I knew so many people were gonna see it, to really mirror the world that I think we live in and to show that version of the world on camera,” Director Anna Mastro explained about her vision for the film. “I grew up in a very diverse city, in a very diverse high school with very diverse kids, and that's kind of still my group of friends and how I kind of function in the world and what I see, how I see the world, and it's very important for me to show that version of the world onscreen. And that is with a lot of diversity, 'cause I think we should be making stories for our audience, and our audience is diverse.”
While making a movie is always a lot of hard work and most of the cast had to deal with school work on top of it, there was still time for on and off set fun. “I was looking at photos the other day,” Isabella Blake-Thomas, who plays January, shared. “We had some fantastic parties at Anna's house and we were dancing for hours and hours on end when it was chucking it down with rain outside. And we would make food and I made sweet potato wedges and everything on set was so much fun and you guys are my family now and I just go back to it and I can't wait to hopefully be able to do that all again, because we just had so much fun together.”
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.