The Ghost & Molly McGee Creators Discuss Disney Animation Scares – CBR – Comic Book Resources

The creators behind Disney Animation’s new series, The Ghost and Molly McGee, discuss keeping the legacy of Disney’s surprising scares alive.
Created by Bill Motz and Bob Roth and executive produced by the pair and Disney Animation veteran Steve Loter, The Ghost and Molly McGee is a sweetly comic, surprisingly dark, and infectiously charming television series. Disney seems to agree, with the series already getting the green light for a second season ahead of the series premiere on Disney Channel on Oct. 1, before arriving on Disney+ less than a week later. Focusing on the enthusiastic-to-a-fault Molly McGee, the series follows what happens after she’s confronted by the ghostly layabout Scratch when her family moves into a new home. However, his attempt to scare her off wholeheartedly backfires when she decides to have the spirit as her new best friend.
Ahead of The Ghost and Molly McGee‘s premiere on Disney Channel and the Disney+ streaming service, CBR sat down for an exclusive interview with Motz, Roth, and Loter to talk about the history of scares in Disney Animation. The trio also discussed recruiting Rob Cantor to helm songs for the show and shared what it’s like to be a part of Disney Animation’s legacy.
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CBR: From the on-set, The Ghost and Molly McGee embraces this Odd Couple-style aesthetic that works really well, pitting this ball of energy Molly against the more isolated and anti-social Scratch. Why was that an important element to play up for the series?
Bill Motz: Well, storytelling is all about opposites, so Scratch is the introvert who doesn’t want to have anything to do with anybody. The odd-couple formula lets you know that the other end of that has to be somebody who wants to know everybody and is going to drag him along. That was sort of baked right into the very first notion we had for the show, is this moment in the very episode, you saw it now where he put the curse on Molly and then it goes wrong,
That was the pitch of the show, almost word for word. This ghost makes a very dumb curse on a girl and winds up getting dragged along into her life. What we’re really excited about this show is you get to see how Scratch turns, that he sees the curse as a curse initially, but as the season unfolds and progresses, their friendship grows closer and closer and he becomes charmed by Molly and they become best friends.
Bob Roth: She and Scratch actually share the same need. They need to have a real authentic connection with somebody, a friendship. Scratch acts like he doesn’t need it. He says, “I don’t need anybody else.” Molly does, but because she’s moved so much, she has not been able to have a really meaningful, deep connection. And he’s resisted one, so together, they kind of fill that need for each other. That was kind of why we had her come from having moved so many times.
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What was it like melding those Disney aesthetics and style with the more overtly horror elements of the premise?
Steve Loter: I think it’s always about balance, and it’s always about making sure you’re doing a Disney show — you’re doing something that has the right amount of balance of humor, heart, quirk, and in this case, a couple of gentle scares. But the fun thing about Scratch is he’s so pliable, you can do anything to him. He could turn into a big scary ghost and then turn into an adorable little cheeky character a second later. It was all about trying to find the balance of the character, because ultimately, Scratch is a good guy. Scratch’s not really trying to scare or really frighten anyone, he’d rather just kind of sit around and eat pizza, and probably watch TV, so it’s about finding the balance.
Bob Roth: It’s classic Disney to have the scare moment. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs — she’s in the forest and it’s spooky, but I think there’s something empowering too. As a kid, I was kind of afraid of ghosts and that kind of thing, so Molly’s response, once she had the scary event of being like that, was an amazing performance. It undercuts the horror.
There is an element of the show where most episodes work on their own, but there does seem to be an overarching plotline to do with the otherworldly Ghost Council and how they want the world to be. What was it like balancing those two story elements, to make sure one didn’t overwhelm the other?
Bob Roth: Our bread and butter is our simple little Molly and Scratch series, but we do have a thread that runs through the season that the more joy Molly spreads — and she spreads a lot of joy — the worse it’s going to get for Scratch. He’s not quite paying attention because he’s pretty lousy at his job. So, that will boil over by the end of the season and it’s going to put him in a hard spot. He’s going to have to make some tough decisions.
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Each episode screened for press featured a silly and often subversive song. Was music always going to be such a big part of the show?
Steve Loter: Well, that was a really pleasant discovery. As we were making the pilot together, [we realized] what will be great here is a song, and then we just kept adding more songs and more songs as we went along, just because it made us laugh and it really just kind of elevated the project. So, you had this wonderful cheer-on kind of song… It feels like one of those ’70s, like The Pointer Sister’s “You can do it!”… Then we said, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if we did like kind of the gospel version of it here?”
It felt like, “Let’s keep adding more and more music.” But the thing that was really fortunate for us is who we got to do the music — Rob Cantor, formally from Tally Hall, whom I’ve known for many, many years, came on board to kind of do all those songs for the show. He’s absolutely amazing. If you’ve seen the Shia LaBeouf video, you know that his work is not only hilarious, but it’s melodic and fantastic. Having Rob along makes you want to put even more music in every episode actually.
Bill Motz: I have to say, every time he emails into us one of his demos like, “What do you think? Is this kind of what you were thinking?”… Last night, in fact, he sent in something rather late last night, I just jumped right onto the computer to listen to it immediately because it’s like a little present that just gets sent to you and oh, man, it brings us huge joy. I know that people are going to love it because no two songs are alike. They really are all over the place and they’re so fun. And then our score composer, Michael Kramer, as you saw like with the softball episode, we kind of score each episode to sort of the genre of the story we’re telling, so in the softball one, it has that epic baseball score in it that you’re used to from your just classic baseball films.
Looking back at the long legacy of Disney Animation, and especially its connection to the supernatural, what’s it like to see The Ghost and Molly McGee join that pantheon?
Bob Roth: It’s an honor. We think of the legacy of Disney, and you can go anywhere in the world and say Mickey Mouse, and people will light up. The Disney characters, the Disney brand is known everywhere you go. So, to have the Walt Disney company say, “Yeah, you guys, we like your idea, we want to make your show and we want to put that out all over the world…” That’s a privilege. That’s an honor. And then to bring in the kind of scarier elements that Disney is so good at, like the Haunted Mansion is almost everybody’s favorite, right? I won’t be satisfied until we see Scratch himself in the Haunted Mansion, but that’s another story. It’s such a natural fit with the Disney brand and that’s what we’re super proud of.
The Ghost and Molly McGee premieres Friday, Oct. 1 at 9:35 p.m. ET/PT on the Disney Channel. The second episode debuts in the series’ regular timeslot on Saturday, Oct. 2 at 9:00 a.m ET/PT on Disney Channel. The first five episodes will be available Wednesday, Oct. 6 on Disney+.
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Brandon Zachary is an Associate Writer with Comic Book Resources and has written for CBR since 2018. He covers breakouts on comics, film, television, video games, and anime. He also conducts industry interviews, is a Rotten Tomatoes certified film critic, and knows SO MUCH about the X-Men. For requests, comments, or to hear his pitch for a third Avatar series that incorporates robots, you can contact him through [email protected].

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