"We were very proud of The Princess Diaries recalls director Garry Marshall. " I felt strongly that there was a place for a G-rated picture with live action that was funny, and it became a success with kids and with parents. We had a kid's story with a lot of adult humour floating through it, so everybody could enjoy it."
"I think The Princess Diaries struck a chord with audiences," says producer Mario Iscovich. It fulfils a bit of fantasy, fun and a fairy tale feeling, wrapped around some form of reality. It's a departure from so many films out there today which are more violent or 'edgy', The Princess Diaries offered heart and good values."
" In addition to the wish fulfilment element, what set the film apart was the story of a young girl's empowerment,," adds producer Debra Martin Chase. ."It gave everyone the message that you have the power within yourself to be anything you want to be, to make your wildest dreams come true."
" I think people respond to stories they can relate to, characters who remind them of themselves, or who give them hope and inspiration,," notes Anne Hathaway.
In The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement the filmmakers have incorporated the heart and humour from its predecessor in following the further adventures of Mia Thermopolis, the bright, slightly awkward San Francisco teenager and reluctant royal who gained poise and self - confidence under the tutelage of her grandmother, Queen Clarisse.
"Mia is a lot more confident now, a very self-possessed young lady," notes Hathaway. In this film, Mia discovers she may be expected to compromise her beliefs and values in order to become Queen of Genovia, and she has to learn to define her own boundaries. Within that struggle, she gains a tremendous amount of self-esteem."
Although she is already a college graduate, Mia has a lot of learning left to do, as she begins a crash course in Genovia's customs, history and laws under the instruction of her loving grandmother and staunchest supporter, Queen Clarisse.
"In this film, Princess Mia takes the journey from young woman to adult,," says producer Debra Martin Chase. "She has to dig deep inside herself to realize that she can rule a country-this is real business, real responsibility, with a country full of people depending upon her-that's daunting for a young woman of 21. In the beginning of this film, we see the Genovian Parliament in session, and they treat the young American girl rather condescendingly, but when she returns armed with knowledge, she has power. I think if you're going to make a difference, to be the best person you can be, it's invaluable to learn that knowledge is your best weapon. In Mia's case, there is much more to her royal role than beautiful dresses, jewelled tiaras and palaces."
One of Mia's biggest obstacles is a centuries-old Genovian law that states a princess must be married in order to become queen. With thirty days. to find a groom, Mia must endure a seemingly endless parade of would-be suitors from all over the world.
"Mia faces the prospect of an arranged marriage in order for her to be queen," explains Garry Marshall. " So they have to find some candidates, young men, who might be suitable to marry Princess Mia."
Two young suitors, Andrew (CALLUM BLUE) and Nicholas (CHRIS PINE) in particular, pique Mia's interest: "She is fond of one of these boys; one of them could help her become queen and help her run the country; while the other one is an adversary who is trying to take over her job," says Marshall. "It's a conflict of story, and a conflict of the heart.
'We take you to a brand new world in this picture, with a great cast and a lot of laughs," says Marshall. "And I think Princess Mia is a good example of how self- confidence, education, commitment, athletic ability, and not giving in to fear are all important for anyone. Being attractive or having good hair doesn't necessarily translate into being a good human being or a successful human being, but believing in yourself is invaluable."
The filmmakers relished the challenge of bringing the country of Genovia to the screen. A mythical principality somewhere in Europe, Genovia was mentioned often, but never actually seen in ''The Princess Diaries."
"In the first film when we meet Princess Mia, she's in high school when she discovers she's a princess-but the whole story takes place in San Francisco," says Garry Marshall. "In this film, we actually take you to Genovia, the wonderful land of beaches and mountains and picturesque little cities and all of the things we talked about in the first film, including pears."
And where exactly is Genovia?
''We decided that Genovia is probably somewhere between Spain and Italy; so it's kind of `the kneecap of Europe! "commented Marshall '' rather straight-faced.
"Genovia was originally supposed to be in Czechoslovakia, as we were going to shoot it in Prague," says Garry Marshall. ''But then I took one look at the world and I said, "I think Genovia is now in BurbanK!"
"We basically created our own world with Genovia, a sort of magical little world," adds producer Mario Iscovich. In the tradition of the great old Hollywood movies, we wanted to create this illusion, where you get swept into this world. We didn't model Genovia on any country specifically, but we imagined it to be relatively provincial, with the usual trappings of royalty, and we gave it a little bit of a fairy tale feeling, just a splash, to give it it's own magical atmosphere. "
Director Garry Marshall and the filmmakers collaborated on the creation of Genovia with production designer Albert Brenner, a five-time Oscar nominee and sculptor, with whom Marshall had worked on four previous films.
''Albert Brenner came out of retirement to work with us on this film, and he did a beautiful job, designing and building the palace, town and countryside of Genovia, all created right here in the Los Angeles area," notes Marshall.
"We discussed Genovia as a living monarchy which has existed for centuries - perhaps a dash of England, a hint of Monaco and Lichtenstein ... and more than a little of the classic architecture of Italy and France. I envisioned a country that was unique but familiar, a Palace steeped in its classic history, but brought up-to-date by its modern Queen and its even more modern Princess. Although grand, the Palace had to accommodate young peoples' parties as well as formal balls and royal functions, with a bright and upbeat color palette."
Five stages at Universal were employed to house the Genovian Palace interiors. The interior architecture of the Palace, including the living quarters, ballroom, throne room, foyer and hallways, kitchen and Parliament was built by Albert Brenner's team of talented craftspersons, who created marble floors from masonite, stone pillars and staircases from wood and Styrofoam, and vast wall frescoes and tapestries. The walls of the Palace throne room are lined with over a dozen paintings of Genovia's past monarchs, painted by portrait artist John Solie using various department heads and executives as models. One portrait features Julie Andrews as the young Queen Clarisse with her husband, King Rupert; another portrait bears more than a passing resemblance to producer Mario Iscovich. One of Brenner's own sculptures, "Stiltwalkers," appears in Viscount Mabrey's living quarters.
Princess Mia's suite set was a princess` dream come true, furnished and decorated especially for Mia by Queen Clarisse, and featuring a spacious walk-in closet full of gorgeous clothes, shoes and accessories, and display drawers full of precious gems from Swiss design house Chopard. Classic furnishings by Drexel Heritage were carefully combined with antique pieces, such as two hand-painted 18 th century Italian nightstands, to complete Mia's palace living quarters.
The studio's European street on the backlot was transformed into the streets of Pyrus, capitol of Genovia, for the Genovian Independence Day Parade. The outdoor set featured over 50 storefronts for the sequence, including Stuart Weitzman, Origins, Vespa, La Perla, Chopard and other companies who lent product and signage to make the street look authentic.
''I think this film is going to be even better than the first one, and I hope everyone loves it as much as I do," says Julie Andrews. 'There is so much action, along with the thrill of being in Genovia, this wonderful mythical kingdom, with all of its glamour and sweet traditions. We really feel as if we've been somewhere in Europe.
Following up the gold-certified The Princess Diaries soundtrack, this highly anticipated collection will ship gold and features a stellar list of pop royalty along with the singing return of world-renowned performer Julie Andrews!
The song `Tour Crowning Glory" marks the singing return of world-renowned performer Julie Andrews. A highlight of the film's royal slumber party sequence was a memorable performance by Ms. Andrews as Queen Clarisse, who is cajoled into performing a song from Mia's childhood, "Tour Crowning Glory" in a duet with Raven.
"It was the experience of a lifetime for me," says Raven. 'The opportunity to sing with julie Andrews, one of my very favorite performers, was incredible! She was so generous and kind, and we had a lot of fun."
"It was a wonderful moment for me-the set that day was so lively and full of energy, " recalls Julie Andrews. "Garry had spoken to me about the possibility of putting a song into the film, and I told him that if the song had a few low notes in it and I sort of spoke/sang it, I could probably manage it. So my great friend Larry Grossman wrote the melody, with lyrics by Lorraine Feather, and it was wonderful! Sweet Raven and I performed it, and it was a joy to do. "
"Julie came up with the idea of having this back-and-forth banter with Raven during the song," says music supervisor Dawn Soler. "It worked out wonderfully- it's a classic song structure, but with a bit of a hip-hop feel to it, and it turned out to be really special. Working with Julie Andrews was a true career highlight for me."
"It was very exciting for me as a director, a big event for us, to have Julie Andrews singing a song in our film,.' recalls Garry Marshall. ''It was very moving, and most of the crew, even the guys with tattoos got a little teary there..."
''We had over 250 people on the stage, watching Julie Andrews sing,," says executive producer Ellen Schwartz. "Not only is it going to be a big moment for the film, but it was a big moment for everyone who was working on stage that day, and for the people who showed up from the surrounding stages, because we all grew up with Julie Andrews ... just watching her act has been a treat."
Sports activities are a staple of Garry Marshall's films, as in ''The Princess Diaries," where Mia tangles with softball. She explores some new pursuits in ''The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement," where her athletic endeavors contribute to the film's laughs:
"I love sports, and I feel that physical humour and visual humour is important," says Marshall. "Words are sometimes difficult in foreign countries, but everybody understands physical and visual humour."
" Mia participates in some new sports in this film, including archery - swimming, badminton and horseback riding,'' notes Marshall. Ever true to innovation, Mia takes a ride in an entirely new sort of sport ... mattress surfing!
In a lively moment of frivolity at the royal slumber party, Mia and her guests enjoyed taking turns riding on mattresses from the ballroom's second floor to the first floor. This U mattress surfing" activity evolved during a conversation between Marshall and Anne Hathaway, who recalled using a mattress to slide down a friend's staircase
Hathaway, who recalled using a mattress to slide down a friend's staircase when she was younger.
" I said, 'Well, I don't know, maybe we can do something like that, but this is a responsible film; we don't want kids sliding downstairs on mattresses. They'll hurt themselves," recalls Marshall. ''So, we invented and constructed this indoor slide-which was supposed to have been in the Palace since Mia's father was a boy-so Mia and her guests could slide safely."
The fun the actors had was infectious during a break in filming, many of the filmmakers and crew members grabbed a mattress to try it themselves, including Garry, producer Mario Iscovich and director of photography Chuck Minsky- " Of course, the crew had to try the slide because that's what we do on my kind of picture," laughs Marshall.