Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf the optimistic snowman in the new Disney animated film Frozen, thanks his mom for some very well timed advice. “My mother, God bless her,” he says, “allowed me to keep dreaming.”
The story starts in 1993.
“I was sitting in a dark theatre watching Aladdin,” he says. “Robin Williams is playing this insane genie character. I’m on the floor, as is the rest of the audience, and I looked over at my mom and said, ‘I want to do that one day,’ meaning, I want to be the comedic relief sidekick in one of these Disney films.”
Cut to a decade later.
“I was about three years out of college and I called my mom up and said, ‘I don’t think I want to do this anymore.’ She started crying. I said, ‘I’m going to go to law school.’ I thought my mother was going to celebrate that she wouldn’t have to worry about me anymore. But she was really disappointed. And I said, ‘Why are you disappointed?’
She said, ‘Because you’ve been dreaming about this for 15 years, but you are only allowing yourself to live out your dream for three years and I think that is unfair to yourself.’ It was very startling to hear her say that.”
“A week later I got my first big break on Broadway doing a show called The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I guess it was at that time I realized I was going to be OK.
“Book of Mormon was the point at which I realized I had reached a new level. That I had made it. I wasn’t a working actor anymore, I was an actor who was a part of something very special and that would allow and afford me more opportunities to do what I had dreamed of.”
Those opportunities include starring in TV shows like 1600 Penn and movies like Jobs, and, of course, making his dream from 1993 come true with Frozen.
“To get that phone call, saying, you are that guy,” he says, “I had to hold the phone down because I was sobbing with joy.”
Olaf, his comedic sidekick snowman, already has at least one fan — Gad’s young daughter.
“She was two-and-a-half when I took her to see her very first movie in a movie theatre, which was Monster’s University. The teaser for Frozen, which featured just my laugh [played before the movie].
“Off of that laugh she turned to me and said, ‘More dada. I want more dada.’ I had to turn away from her because I was embarrassed by the tears.”