Mandy Moore’s ‘Tangled’ Heroine Not ‘Typical Disney Princess’

'She's very independent,' actress/singer tells MTV News of new Rapunzel.

While the fall-to-Thanksgiving film season is usually rife with Oscar bait, it’s also prime time for releasing family films. One such movie is the highly anticipated “Tangled,” Disney’s updated and traditionally animated take on Rapunzel, starring the vocal talents of Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi.

Kicking off our Fall Movie Preview, we bring you a delightful chat we had with the ever-gracious and lovely Moore, during which she discussed non-typical femmes fatales, singing in front of a 65-piece orchestra and Levi’s powerful pipes.

MTV: How is Rapunzel different from the typical femme-fatale characters?

Mandy Moore: She’s not the typical femme fatale or the typical Disney princess even, because: A) She doesn’t know she’s a princess. I think she sort of has this inkling that something isn’t quite right in her life, [but] she’s just really sort of motivated to find out what else is out there beyond this crazy tower she’s lived in for 18 years. Having said that, she’s very independent, she can take care of herself, and she’s definitely come up with really entertaining ways to keep herself busy.

MTV: Is the Disney take on Rapunzel the same as the original fairy tale?

Moore: Pretty much. She has an overprotective mother who tells her she’s not missing out on anything, and it’s a big bad world out there and it’s too scary and dangerous and she’ll be eaten alive, literally, if she decides to venture out into the world.

MTV: What was your reaction to Disney changing the film’s original title, in an effort to lure in more young boys?

Moore: I think I was initially a bit taken aback, only because people know the story of Rapunzel, so when you say you’re working on “Rapunzel,” it’s sort of a no-brainer, you don’t have to explain it to people. But as the title sort of sunk in, I understood the decision behind changing it. The movie is so great and so cute, and people are going to see the trailer and know what the story is about. I guess you sort of have to leave it up to the brains at the top. They know what they’re doing.

MTV: What can you tell us about this particular story? Can you tease any romance?

Moore: She sort of comes face to face with this stranger who precariously ends up in her tower, and he’s very handsome [and] he knows it. He’s quite the ladies’ man, if you will. Somehow, they get roped into going on this adventure together and start to see a different side of one another, and potentially a romance ensues. There’s [also] a few musical moments.

MTV: What was that experience like, recording with legendary Disney composer Alan Menken?

Moore: That was fun. I’m definitely the quintessential girl who grew up watching “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin” and the like, so it was probably one of the coolest things I’ve done thus far, being in the studio with Alan Menken and a 65-piece orchestra. It was such a moment in time. I kept telling myself: “Just be in the moment. Remember this. You’re going to want to think about this for years to come.” It was really magical and sort of everything you’d want a Disney animated experience to be. As one of the players involved, I was like, “Oh my God!” … To watch it all come to life, because so much of your job — you’re looking at storyboards, you’re having things explained to you, but there’s nothing tangible to see or get, it has to form in your imagination, which is one of the slightly taxing parts, but also the most fun — to get to be a kid again and go into the depths of your imagination and play around. This, being there with the orchestra and hearing the score sort of come to life and what the feel of the movie was going to be at different parts was like, “Oh, OK, now I really get what we’re doing.” So that was definitely a moment for me. It was the first time I met Zach [Levi].

MTV: Does Zach actually sing in the film?

Moore: He does, and he’s amazing! Oh my God, we had one rehearsal before we went into the studio, and I was so interested [in him], because they wanted to cast actors in the roles who could also sing, and I had no idea that he sang, and it turns out he’s like a big musical-theater nut and had that in his background. He has a beautiful voice, but he has the perfect voice for something like this. He’s such a sweet guy, and he’s so funny in the movie, but I think his voice will astonish people, like, “Wow, where did that come from?”

From the saucy Jessica Alba in “Little Fockers” to James Franco’s grueling journey in “127 Hours,” the MTV Movies team is delving into the hottest flicks of fall 2010. Check back daily for exclusive clips, photos and interviews with the films’ biggest stars.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Tangled.”

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