Sixty Seconds with Idina Menzel
Let It Go is an iconic power anthem. What’s the song you turn to when feeling down?
That’s a good question. I have a few. Sometimes, I honestly go to silence because if I’m in a depressed place then great, beautiful music can paralyse me. Because I’m so sensitive, it can make me feel all the things that I haven’t done or accomplished — it just can be brutal to me in that way. And then there are days when an Annie Lennox song like Why or Walking On Broken Glass or an old song by Oleta Adams called Get Here — songs like that, with great vocals, can really inspire me.
You play Queen Elsa in Frozen. Will Elsa ever find romantic love? Is she gay?
You know, I don’t know. I don’t know even if they’ll make another movie. I just know that what we are really proud of is that Elsa’s life hasn’t been contingent on a romantic love. It’s always been about self-love or love for her sister, which, I think, is the strength of the films. She’s not your typical Disney princess that’s waiting for a prince charming to come save her. So any romantic love interest would have to be done delicately no matter who it was — man, woman or whatever gender. It would need to be about Elsa never sacrificing who she is and what makes her special and not compromising herself. That is something we all are challenged with when we fall in love: how much do we give away of ourselves to be in a relationship? How much can we hold on to and how much of a sacrifice is needed because you love somebody? I have to find that balance all the time.
You don’t sing in your new film, Uncut Gems. Was that the idea?
It’s always an attraction when someone recognises my talents as an actress and they don’t necessarily need me to sing in a project. That’s something I have to contend with in my life. People often don’t understand that being a great singer is being a great artist and performer. And, especially in musicals, there’s a lot that goes on between the songs that helps people connect to our characters so we have to be great actors as well.
Is that what you’re looking for? A non-singing, acting career?
Well, I would just say that it’s been great to have two films out that are completely different. One being Frozen 2, playing an animated character that resonates with people in this deep way and really asks people to celebrate that beautiful thing inside of themselves that makes them unique. And then in Uncut Gems to have this character all the way over on the other side of the spectrum that’s not singing, that’s in this raw, dark, roller-coaster ride of a film set in this chaotic world where I play a woman on the brink of divorcing her husband, who is this adrenaline-seeking dreamer [played by Adam Sandler]. I would love to be given the opportunity to play more in that place because I am a woman in her late forties who has had plenty of experience in life and I feel like I have a lot to offer to those other stories as well.
Do you remember your first school performance?
The first role I had in a school play was foreshadowing [of her role as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West in Wicked] — it was Dorothy in the Wizard Of Oz. And my father was a pyjama salesman so he had all the seamstresses in the office make me a really beautiful and authentic blue-and-white-checkered Dorothy dress. Little did I know that story would have such meaning in my life.
Are you up for starring in Wicked, the movie?
I’ve been told I’d be too old. But with green make-up and a bit of The Irishman de-ageing TLC I could still get hired…
What’s your favourite musical?
I have two. West Side Story and My Fair Lady.
What’s next for you?
I got hired by Sony to be in this big new Cinderella film with Camila Cabello. It’s kind of like a Moulin Rouge! version of Cinderella: it’s really modern and has all these cover tunes and arrangements that go with the retelling of the story. I play the evil stepmom and I’m so excited about that. I can always play complicated evil: evil with a heart deep down in there that needs to be revealed.
Are you sick of hearing Let It Go?
It might’ve gotten monotonous or tiring for other people when their kids played it over and over again but for me it’s a constant reminder of how lucky I am to have an iconic song where every night when I’m on the road I can put the mic out to the audience and everyone knows every single word. I’ve always wanted to have a song like that. And to have it be so profoundly absorbed and appreciated by a young audience, to have it resonate with them in such a positive way with this message of self-empowerment and the unapologetic nature of a young woman really owning who she is. I don’t get tired of singing songs like that.