Since premiering in January, Star vs. the Forces of Evil has quickly become one of our very favorite Disney XD animated series, thanks largely to its quirky sensibilities, breathless pace and lovable characters. Created by Daron Nefcy, Star vs. the Forces of Evil centers around Star Butterfly (Eden Sher), a magical princess from an alternate dimension who has come to our world as a foreign exchange student. But even though she is staying with Marco Diaz (Adam McArthur), her best-bud-on-earth, the titular forces of evil, led by the miniscule baddie Ludo (Alan Tudyk) still threaten her very existence.
The series is an absolute blast, mixing coming-of-age humor with psychedelic elements of fantasy, horror and science fiction. It’s absolutely mind boggling what Nefcy and her collaborators are able to pull it off, time and time again. They seem to raise the bar with each passing episode, maneuvering between crazy adventures and touchingly human moments. Tonight’s episode, “Blood Moon Ball”/”Fortune Cookies” features cameo appearances from Rider Strong, as Star’s demonic ex-boyfriend Tom, and Michael C. Hall as a brand new bad guy named Toffee, and is no different. Be prepared to laugh out loud at the unicorn skeleton who doesn’t know that he’s dead one minute, and then find yourself surprisingly touched the next.
We got a chance to chat with Nefcy about the origins of Star vs. the Forces of Evil, what it was like casting Strong and Hall in these pivotal roles, and what is coming up in future episodes of the series.
Where did the initial idea for the series come from?
I came up with the idea during my second year of college. She started out as a little sketch – she was a character with heart cheeks (she didn’t quite have the devil horns yet). And I really liked the character so I was coming up with the story around her. The initial story was a little bit different than it is now. Before, she was a girl who wanted to have magic powers so bad that she could manifest them but she didn’t have magical powers and couldn’t understand them. So it was based off my own childhood experiences of being this kid who just wanted to have magical powers really bad and was obsessed with Sailor Moon. I was really convinced my cat would talk to me at some point. So that was Star’s original concept. When I brought her to Disney, I aged her up and that’s where the whole idea of, what if the magical powers were real? Where did she come from? And where all of the backstory and the idea of Mewni [Star’s magical home world] came from. But all of that came later; the initial idea was this personal weirdness that I had.
The series walks a fine line, tonally, from one moment to the next. And in the “Blood Moon Ball” episode, is both very scary and ultimately very sweet. Is that always something you want to do?
Yeah and I think especially as we keep finding the series’ voice. During the first season of a series you’re always searching and you have this idea but it grows and I have this wonderful team that I’m working with and they bring so much to the episodes too. And that episode is definitely one of my favorites. We’d been trying to work in this idea of Star having this demonic ex-boyfriend for a while and that was the initial crumb of the story. As the episodes continue we do walk that line a lot; we’re trying to not just be a comedy but also have some drama and we really want our characters to feel like teenagers and have them going through the normal emotions that teenagers go through, but in this magical setting.
Tom was a character that was teased in a few episodes. What made you go with Rider Strong for the true personification of Tom?
Well I think that Sara [Jane Sherman] and Rachel [Glauber], who have been doing our casting, have been so awesome at finding voices that really embody the characters. We did tryouts for Tom and Rider came in for one of the tryouts and just knocked it out of the park. He sounds cool but he also has a vulnerability there and that’s what we really saw in Tom. Tom is the devil prince, so I imagine he has this royal father who is this anger demon. So Tom has inherited that but he also wants to get over it. He doesn’t want that to be his identity.
In the follow-up episode, you get to work with Michael C. Hall.
Yes, I’m such a huge fan and he does the voice of Toffee, which is something I;m really excited about. Ludo is a great villain; Ludo is super fun but Ludo is not a scary villain. And we really wanted Star to fight against somebody who is a greater evil. So this is the introduction of Toffee and there’s an arc that goes along with him throughout the end of this first season. So I’m very excited to be launching the Toffee story.
There’s been even more importance placed on you and the show, considering you’re the second female creator of a Disney animated series and the first female creator of a Disney XD series. Do you feel that pressure at all?
I don’t really think about it very much. I feel very lucky to be making a show right now. I really feel like, in the day-to-day of what I’m doing, it’s really not something that I need to think about. I’m friends with Chris Nee and she does DocMcStuffins and it’s interesting to hear her experience, because I think her generation has had to go through some rougher times. And I feel like I can reap those benefits. It’s really wonderful. And I’m so excited for the really talented women on my show, who will be making shows afterwards and never have to think about that.
And you have such an unbelievably strong female character in Star. Was getting a character like that to younger audiences part of the thrill of this project?
Oh definitely. Certainly I’ve looked at TV over the years and I have had to go to Japan when I was younger to find the cartoons that had the characters that I wanted to see. It was always a question of, Well why isn’t that on TV in the U.S.? There have been some wonderful ones in the past, like Kim Possible, but there hasn’t been enough for me, with half the population being female and all. That’s been cool too, because one of the comments I’ve been getting from girls is, “I’ve wanted to see this cartoon. And here it is!”
Can you tease the future adventures of Star?
Well I already spilled about the Toffee storyline, which I think people will really like. Right now we’re working on season 2 and I’ll say that we’ll see more of Glossaryck, we’ll see more of Janna, we’ll see more of Tom … It’s cool because we’re getting to explore characters that were a surprise to us. Like Janna, for example, we just liked her so much we started writing her in more. Those little discoveries are always fun.
Watch the star-studded Star vs. the Forces of Evil tonight at 8:30 p.m. on Disney XD!