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Mandy Moore lets hair down for ‘Tangled’

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Mandy Moore provides the voice of Rapunzel in Disney's "Tangled."

Mandy Moore provides the voice of Rapunzel in Disney’s “Tangled.”

Eric Charbonneau,

Someday soon, the songs "When Will My Life Begin" and "I See the Light" may be looping through the heads and DVD players of girls (and boys).

It will be a high honor that Mandy Moore, who provides the speaking and singing voice of Rapunzel in "Tangled," will understand. Perfectly.

"I remember seeing 'The Little Mermaid' in theaters and then obsessively, compulsively watching the video when it came out. And the same with 'Aladdin' and 'Beauty and the Beast,' " she said a few days ago by phone.

"Those were huge, seminal points in my childhood. So, now this idea that I'm somehow a part of this same family tree, it's the greatest thing ever."

"Tangled," Disney's 50th animated feature, opens in theaters Wednesday. "As soon as I heard that Disney was making another animated film and it was the story of Rapunzel, I'm like, 'I'm in.' There's music? 'Oh, I'm totally in.' "

Moore, 26, had to audition for the role and chose not a tune linked to Ariel or Belle but Joni Mitchell's "Help Me" to supplement the lines she had to read.

The new film was conceived as "a melding between the old-school, classic, quintessential great storytelling that we know and love from Disney, coupled with the new technology."

The princess locked in a tower has 70 feet of golden, sometimes glowing hair, but she's more than just the young lady with the locks.

"I really appreciated and admired her approach toward life and her overall attitude — she wasn't a victim, she wasn't judgmental, she wasn't na?e. She was very open-minded; she was very determined.

"I thought she was very fearless, too, in the face of the unknown. All she'd ever been told about the outside world was that it was filled with scary people who were going to take advantage of her and cut her hair off, but none of that really deterred her from wanting to realize this dream that she had."

Rapunzel longs to know the origins of the lanterns that float into the sky on her birthday and she wouldn't mind exploring the world outside the tower she's called home for nearly 18 years.

Moore, whose credits include a half-dozen albums, movies and guest appearances on TV shows such as "Grey's Anatomy" and "Entourage," saw echoes of herself in Rapunzel.

"I recognize some of the physicality, some of the gestures, because obviously they do record you sometimes when you're in the booth. So that was sort of jarring to see the movie for the first time and go, 'Oh, wow, there I am.'

"It doesn't look anything like me, but I definitely could see myself every now and then because I'm quite animated — as a person, anyway, so hopefully they had lots to draw from."

As is usually the case, she recorded her lines in isolation, although she and co-star Zachary Levi shared a studio for their duet. Who knew the star of the TV series "Chuck" could sing?

"That was something I think he grew up doing but had never had the chance to do professionally until the movie. So, I'm excited for people now to hear how beautiful his voice is."

At the time of the interview, Moore had seen the movie at a crew screening and then at the premiere when the audience watched it in 3-D and she could hear the children laughing.

"It was so sweet afterward to meet kids already that were coming up and asking if I was Rapunzel. Oh, my gosh! It really melted my heart. This is something I get to live with from now on," she said with the same enthusiasm that Rapunzel shows when her feet touch the grass for the first time.

"I know this will be around long after I'm gone. And just the idea that it can mean to kids, again, what those movies meant to me as a kid is the coolest thing ever."

Dist. by Scripps Howard News Service