Warning: This article contains spoilers for Luca.
Though he has less than 10 minutes of screentime in Luca, Uncle Ugo most definitely steals the latest Pixar show. Voiced by Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat), the deep-sea character shows up around the 25-minute mark after Luca's parents — Lorenzo and Daniela (played by Jim Gaffigan and Maya Rudolph) — discover that their son (Jacob Tremblay) has been venturing to the surface world.
Ugo (a translucent sea monster clearly modeled after this rather ugly-looking anglerfish) is brought in to take his nephew away to the darkest depths of the ocean where there's nothing to do. Nothing except wait until an endless smorgasbord of whale carcass floats into your mouth.
"They were amazing," Luca director Enrico Casarosa says of the recording sessions with Cohen. "If we had to probably book Sacha Baron Cohen with his crazy schedule in person, it probably would’ve been difficult. But we were able to do it. He was in Australia, very far [away], but we were able to do it and so, they were amazing. We gave him a lot of freedom to riff. We tried probably half a dozen different voices. He’s so versatile and quick — he was making us laugh really, really hard. He gave us so much material."
Once actor and director settled on Ugo's throaty voice, all of Cohen's lines were recorded in just two sessions. "That’s all we needed," Casarosa adds. "That is honestly the amount of material we had and how much fun we had to then puzzle to get at the best parts … What an amazing pleasure to work with him and what an amazing improviser. He just ran with it."
"As parents, you want to do something to help a kid," Gaffigan explains. "It would’ve been the worst thing for Luca to do that, but you understand the logic of his parents thinking [that] sending him to Uncle Ugo would make sense, which is insane. I find that very interesting and in the script, that was very funny, too."
The crew loved the character so much, in fact, that they would often joke about an Ugo TV spinoff "showing you around the deep, and he thinks it’s amazing, but it’s an awful life," Casarosa reveals.
While Luca's end credits do give viewers a glimpse into what occurs after the main story has ended, we asked the project's director and cast what they'd like to see out a potential sequel.
"We joked because of Guilia’s past and the fact that her parents are separated, that there’s a Parent Trap sequel here, where they’re trying to get Massimo and her mom back together. It was a joke, but I find that kind of funny and interesting," Casarosa says. "But the reason to make a little bit of telling us what happens after [is because] I love to give a sense that Luca will somehow conquer the world. It was important to feel he wasn’t gonna go in the world and hide in any way that he’s a sea monster."
Emma Berman echoes that sentiment, adding that she'd like to see what life is like for Giulia during the rest of the year. "I think it would be really cool to see her relationship with her mom and how Luca kind of joins their family a little," the actress tells us." I think it’d be a really fun thing to see how Luca is maybe treated at school when they find out he’s a sea monster."
Jack Dylan Grazer, on the other hand, would like to see Alberto Scorfano with Luca at school in Genoa after the two friends parted ways at the end of the film. "And he's like, ‘Oh, I’m here to take a Home Ec class.’ And Luca’s like, ‘What…? Why Home Ec?’ And he’s like, ‘I am married now. I need to learn how to cook and clean and do taxes…’"
As for Luca's parents, who remained behind in Portrosso, Gaffigan, thinks "it would be interesting to see Lorenzo and his wife adjusting to living on that world ... There are so many great themes in this movie about dealing with your fears and friendships and how friends propel you to pursue things ... And then Uncle Ugo could come and visit us and he would be completely unequipped. So, I think it would be fun if they ended up in a really crowded city."
The bottom line is this: We need more of Uncle Ugo...a lot more!
Luca is now available to stream on Disney+ at no extra cost to subscribers.