What Luca's Creators Want You To Know About The Sea Monsters - Exclusive

Disney-Pixar's latest animated film, "Luca," is a coming-of-age tale about a cautious but curious boy named Luca (Jacob Tremblay), who just so happens to be a sea monster. But that doesn't stop him from going on a summer adventure in a small town on the Italian Riviera with his newfound best friend Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer), who's also from beneath the sea. They must hide their secret well, though, as the land-dwelling locals thrive on hunting for their kind. Loosely based on director Enrico Casarosa's real-life childhood experiences, "Luca," — available on Disney+ as of June 18 — uses the mythical underwater creatures as a metaphor. The same can be said for the shape-shifting Luca does when he steps onto dry land, turning from a multi-colored creature with a scaly tail to a chubby-cheeked young boy with a sense of adventure.

But just why exactly did Casarosa choose sea monsters for the crux of the film? In an exclusive interview with Looper, Casarosa and "Luca" producer Andrea Warren revealed everything you want to know about why the mythical legends were so important to the film.

The idea of sea monsters is fun, but also a metaphor for growing up

On the surface, there's a simple reason for why Luca, the character, is a secret sea monster, according to director Enrico Casarosa: "We always want to find a really fun, animation-worthy idea. And the fantastic is something I'm interested in; I even made a short film about a whole family that goes up on the moon [2011's Academy Award-nominated "La Luna"]. So I knew I wanted to bring something that was really wondrous."

Digging deeper, Luca being a sea monster is a metaphor for life, especially that of a blossoming child who's a fish out of water, so to speak, when it comes to the world. "These wonderful sea monster maps have always inspired me," Casarosa said. "They look really interesting, they're about the mystery of the sea, but they also really connect to a kid's feelings, in that tough moment where we're trying to find our way. Growing up, feeling a little bit like you're out of place and you want to fit in, but you don't know how to. The fact that these kids would have this secret felt very reminiscent of the feelings we have as we grow up, of feeling a bit like outsiders or feeling odd in your own skin in some way."

Casarosa has previously stated that "Luca" was influenced by various myths about monsters in the Mediterranean Sea, from krakens and leviathans to water-lurking dragons and intelligent octopuses. But do Casarosa and producer Andrea Warren really believe in sea monsters? "I feel like the fun of this film is imagining it," Warren said. "Sometimes it is just fun to be in a beautiful forest or something, and think, 'Hm, I wonder if fairies are going to pop out.' You know? It's fun to imagine."

"There is so much unknown in the deep, I feel like [the film's] Uncle Ugo could show us some strange things there in the darkness of the Marianas Trench," Casarosa added with a laugh

"Luca" is available June 18 on Disney+.