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Interview: Daron Nefcy of Disney’s STAR VS. THE FORCES OF EVIL

Attention, magical girl fans — we’ve got a treat for you. Star vs. The Forces of Evil is an animated comedy adventure about teen princess from another planet, Star Butterfly. After receiving an all-powerful magic wand for her 14th birthday, Star is sent by her Royal Parents to live with the Diaz family on Earth. Together with the Diaz’s teenage son Marco, they navigate high school and embark on dimension-hopping adventures across the multiverse, while keeping her wand out of the clutches of arch-nemesis Ludo and his monstrous forces of evil. We sat down with creator/executive producer Daron Nefcy to talk about being weird in high school, anime, and the overwhelming fan-love reaction to the show.

Nerdist: Hi Daron, let me start by saying: I think this show is a good fit for Nerdist because, well, some of us had very trying high school experiences.

Daron Nefcy: [laughs] Yeah, this show is sort of my fantasy high school version.

Nerdist: Can you tell me what Star is born out of?

DN: I created Star in my 3rd year of college – the original concept of it. And of course it’s changed and morphed over time, but she’s always been who she is. And I was obsessed with Sailor Moon when I was a kid, I really didn’t want anything more than to be a magical Sailor Moon-type character, and I kept thinking I would come home and my cat would start talking – I really convinced myself of this. So Star’s original character was this girl who wanted to be Sailor Moon, and the Marco character was obsessed with Dragon Ball Z, and they were going to be enemies. I had come up with this whole show where Star didn’t really have magical powers but she would make things happen by her will of just WANTING them to happen.

Then when I brought it over to Disney – and one of the executives said, “What if her magic powers were real?” — and I sort of sat on that, and came up with the concept as it is now.

Nerdist: Tell me, what was high school like for you?

DN: I was not crazy about high school; I graduated early because I really wanted to get out of there. And it’s funny because when I was in middle school, my friends and I created a comic about what we thought high school was like — kids were driving and running around in shopping carts, and doing lots of fun stuff. Then I got to high school and it wasn’t fun at all. But I never felt like I was trying to fit in, and I feel like that’s Star’s angle also. She’s really confident and doing her own thing. I mean, I used to go to high school in a 1930s top hat that my mom got at a garage sale, and I had a skirt that I sewed a bunch of stuffed animals on. I just didn’t care.


Nerdist: This show, in a very fantastic way, touches on a lot of the experience of high school that is much more positive than is usually reflected in popular culture, and I’m wondering if that’s why you think there’s been such a huge fan reaction?

DN: I’m loving the fan art — it’s amazing. I love that people are connecting with the character, connecting with the world, and really finding their own way into it. I love that people want to figure out, “Who is this character in a photo on a wall?” I did the same thing when I was younger. I would find stuff that I liked and tried to find a way in. I think that as far as making high school positive — what I think the show does well is that it doesn’t make high school the most important thing. I think that’s an important thing for kids to know, and I think that will make their experience better. Star has a lot going on, school is not her whole focus, and as much as she’s experiencing this new thing, and it’s important in that fact, it’s also not SUPER important.


Nerdist: Maybe that’s what’s so appealing about it. She’s got a whole world that’s not where she landed on earth. So in that way, it has an “It gets better” message. You can be yourself, and this little sliver of life is exactly that – a tiny sliver.

DN: Yeah, and Star is going to go through some arcs that will be fun — they’ll have to wait and see, and I don’t want to give anything away, but I think they’ll enjoy it.  It’s amazing that people are drawing the characters and really getting into it. It’s so cool.

Nerdist. Fan creations are my favorite. I love when people feel so passionately about something that they feel the need to express themselves artistically.


DN: And it’s really inspiring too! And you know, we’re working on our second season now, and it really makes you go, “Oh! We should explore this character too!” or, “They’re interested in this aspect – maybe we’ll try to work that into the story somehow!” And now it’s so great – because I couldn’t do that when I was younger – but now people tweet stuff at me, and you get an instant connection with the fans.

(Check out the awesome fan inspired art HERE)

Nerdist: Were there any other anime series that you consciously pulled from besides Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z?

DN: Oh yeah, I watched a lot of anime. Mostly a lot of the girl stuff of that era like Magic Knight Rayearth and Revolutionary Girl Utena, but I was really influenced by something called Unico. It was this little pink unicorn and I still love it. I show it to everyone on my crew. And I really like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Of course.


Nerdist: Alright, so I have one last very silly question: If they created a ride at Disneyland that was based on this show – what would that ride be?

DN: Oh, man, there’s a lot they could do. Maybe some kind of ride through the meanie castle? You could get on a unicorn car and go through that tower with the crazy towers. That would be pretty badass.

Nerdist: Then you end coming out of a flaming rainbow!

DN: Yes! A flaming rainbow shooting off of the back!

Nerdist: Daron, thank you so much for chatting with us today!

DN: My pleasure!

Star Vs. The Forces of Evil premieres Monday, March 30th (8:30 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney XD, and stars Eden Sher (The Middle) as the voice of StarButterfly. While you’re waiting, why don’t you enjoy this exclusive clip of the cast and crew creating their own magic wands?

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