Olaf, the magical snowman of Disney's "Frozen" franchise, is offering a message of encouragement to children isolating at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I am so unbelievably grateful to share this message with all of you," actor Josh Gad, 39, who voices the impish sprite, wrote on social media Wednesday, following Disney Animation's online release of the nearly three-minute animated song-video "I Am With You."
"This song," he continued, "written by the incredible team behind all of the songs in 'Frozen,' Kristen Anderson Lopez and Bobby Lopez & written by Dan Abraham under the supervision of ["Frozen" and "Frozen II" co-writer and co-director] Jennifer Lee is a love letter to all of you from all us. I am with you, today, tomorrow and beyond."
The video opens with Olaf, forlorn on a balcony, overlooking the deserted streets of Arendelle, evidently under its own coronavirus restrictions. Going back into the castle, he writes a message to assure any who need to hear, "I am with you with this letter / I am with you with this song."
Clips from Disney shorts and animated features run as silent counterpoint: Moana crosses the sea in her wa'a kaulua canoe as Olaf sings, "Forget the notion that an ocean's keeping you from me." Belle shuts her eyes at Beast's urging on the line "Just close your eyes and picture us." Ultimately, the song asserts, we are all together emotionally.
"Over a month ago," wrote "The Book of Mormon" Tony Award-winner Gad alongside an Instagram video of himself recording the song at home, "I got a call from Lee that Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez … wrote a song about spiritually being together while all of us remain far apart. They sent the song and I immediately cried (of course). The video which can now be seen on my page or the @disney social pages is similarly bringing people to tears and reminding everyone that we are all together right now even though we are separated by great distances."
Abraham, making his debut as a Disney director, is primarily a storyboard artist for the studio, mostly on DisneyToon Studios' Disney Fairies franchise.
Additionally on Thursday, Gad tweeted a follow-up to his "Back to the Future" virtual reunion from three days earlier, with a pandemic-masked call-in viewer taking him to task for not including the "best character in the film, by far … Biff Tannen!" After urging viewers to support the charitable Project Hope, the caller proceeds to call Gad a "butthead" and tells him to "make a like a tree and get outta here." He then reveals himself to be actor Thomas F. Wilson, and exits with another famous Biff quote: "Say hi to your mom for me!"
"There's something very familiar about all this …" Gad lightheartedly muses afterward.