Inside Billie Eilish's Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles With Director Robert Rodriguez
Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez gave People en Español an exclusive behind the scenes into the cinematic concert experience now streaming on Disney+.
Animated and real-life Billie Eilish are making their debut on Disney+ this weekend in a cinematic concert experience Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles.
The concert brings audiences a unique performance of her recent album, Happier Than Ever, which she sings in sequential order. Eilish is joined by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, world-renowned Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo, and her brother, Finneas.
Director Robert Rodriguez talked to People en Español on the vision behind the unique musical experience filmed at L.A.'s iconic Hollywood Bowl amphitheater and what it was like to create an animated persona for Eilish.
"I love Billie Eilish's music; my daughter introduced me to her music years ago," he said. "My daughter and I would jam to her songs together at home, and every time my daughter would bring me a new song she wanted to play, I'd always say, 'who's this? another Billie Eilish song? She was such a great role model for my daughter."
Rodriguez has previously worked on similar projects with Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga. However, the project with Eilish provided a unique opportunity to collaborate with his 15-year-old daughter, with whom he formulated ideas of what the animated character could do during the concert.
The filmmaker also worked with Eilish in developing the concepts around her animated persona.
"We talked about common references such as Roger Rabbit or Cool World where there is an animated character in a live-action world, mixing both mediums," he explained.
Joined by animator and director Patrick Osborne, Rodriguez developed the animated version of the Grammy Award-winning singer and other elements that make alternate appearances throughout the concert.
"We always have in our head this person we wish we could be that we'll never achieve because they're so much better than us. We always wish we could be so much better," he says. "We could look different; we could act differently; we could talk differently. Well, you give that character so much real-estate that it becomes real—that's the animated version."
The film begins with the animated character holding a microphone in the limelight. Then she's driving around the California coast in a convertible before cueing to Eilish at the amphitheater surrounded by the live orchestra, directed by Gustavo Dudamel. Throughout the concert, we see what both parts of the same character are doing.
"The animated version would love to meet her because it would want to be here just as much because she's real, and then the animated version is not," Rodriguez says. "That's why they're on a collision course. That became the idea of the story. That's why she's in search of the real version of her, just as much as the real version is in search of the idealized version."
Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles expresses a musical and cinematic affection for the city personal to Eilish and her style but leaves an open space for others to write their version.
In the case of Rodriguez, his would be centered around the time he spent at the old MGM lot (now Sony Picture Studios), the first studio where he worked and eating ropa vieja at Versailles restaurant with Quentin Tarantino while he wrote Pulp Fiction.
Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles is now streaming globally on Disney+.