Watch 'The Star' shine a light on the nativity story's donkey in exclusive first trailer
Wednesday - 26/07/2017 10:43
The nativity story is told by some unlikely characters.
The nativity story is getting new animal heroes with The Star (in theaters Nov. 10).
The faith-based animated comedy tells the story of Jesus' birth through the eyes of the creatures in the beloved Bible story — notably, the donkey who bore the pregnant Mary. The Starunveils its first trailer and images exclusively at usatoday.com.
The Walking Dead's Steven Yeun voices Bo, a donkey with the stubborn conviction that he's destined for more than working in a mill.
"I gravitated toward this idea of great things coming in unexpected packages," says Yeun. "This is a hero’s journey. Bo is an earnest, altruistic and strong-willed donkey who also wants to do big things."
The tale of the first Christmas goes all in on animals (even more than 1977's Rankin/Bass TV special Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey), allowing for a whole stable of major voice talent, including Keegan-Michael Key voicing Bo's bird sidekick with lofty ambitions, Dave the Dove.
Oprah Winfrey voices Deborah the Camel, who has a mouse friend (Kristin Chenoweth). With two other camels voiced by Tracy Morgan and Tyler Perry, the camel trio is tasked with carrying the Three Wise Men. Kelly Clarkson voices Leah the Horse and Saturday Night Live's Aidy Bryant is a lamb named Ruth.
With Mariah Carey singing and co-writing the title song, The Star also features power casting in the human roles — including Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez as Mary. After playing a young woman accidentally inseminated in the TV series, Rodriguez takes the ultimate next step as the Virgin Mary.
"I’ve got the virgin pregnant thing down, let me tell you. I know how to have babies without having sex," says Rodriguez. "And the truth is, I was beyond honored to be offered the role. I grew up with the nativity story.
"These are big, holy shoes to fill," she adds. "As special and glorified as she is, Mary represents that Everywoman."
Mary also has to explain to Joseph (Zachary Levi) how the conception of Jesus came about.
"It’s not like this crazy ordeal or super-complicated," says Rodriguez. "It’s like, 'This is what happened. I believe it, (and) if I know the man I have chosen to be with the rest of my life, he’s going to understand and walk with me on this journey.' "
Bo also joins the journey with his critical role of carrying Mary into Bethlehem to give birth. Though the anthropomorphic creatures banter with each other, TheStar's humans hear only animal sounds, including Bo's braying. This required voice help for Yeun.
"To be honest, I don’t have a good donkey bray, so they used a more effective one than what could come out of my mouth," he says.
The Middle star Patricia Heaton, who voices Edith, a weary mother cow in the stable, says the humor-filled tale with a message will provide a positive boost in troubled times.
"Hopefully the Christmas season will lift us above the fray with that message of 'Goodwill toward men,' " says Heaton. "That's what the nativity story is all about."