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Miguel Rivera is the main protagonist of the Pixar's 19th full-length animated feature film, Coco. He is only twelve years old but aspires to be a great musician. The Rivera family has a generations-old ban on music, yet despite this his dreams remain firm, which often gets him into trouble with his family. When he accidentally invokes a curse that sends him to the Land of the Dead, he seeks out his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz, to help him return to the Land of the Living before he is stuck there forever. He is played by Anthony Gonzalez.
Despite his family's objection of him to become a musician, Miguel is an innate musician to the marrow of his bones.
He is voiced by Anthony Gonzalez in English and Luis Angel Gomez Jaramillo in Spanish.
Miguel is a 12-year-old aspiring musician who struggles against his family's generations-old ban on music. When a magical mishap lands him in the Land of the Dead, Miguel seeks out his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz, to help him return to the Land of the Living before it's too late”. He wants to become a musician just like his idol, Ernesto De La Cruz.
Miguel has an ear for music and is a fast learner, as he had taught himself how to play a guitar by watching one of Ernesto's old films with the guitar that he had built. This indicates a skill for craftsmanship, as he had made it himself to make it look like his great-great-grandfather's guitar. Miguel's ear for music also has led him to possess a good singing voice, which he might have learned from listening to Ernesto and other musicians singing in the plaza. It is very likely that he had inherited music skills from Héctor. Miguel is also fast on his feet, as he was able to outrun and escape from Pepita's "hunt" for him.
Miguel is a slender young boy with tan skin, black hair, brown eyes, and a mole below his nose, and a dimple on only one side of his mouth. He wears a red hooded jacket with white stripes over a white tank top, blue jeans with cuffs, and black shoes. At the end of the movie, he loses his hoodie and replaces his tank top with a white short-sleeved dress shirt, and the rest of his outfit remains unchanged.
Originally, Miguel was to be an American child who had trouble coping with the death of his mother in the earliest story draft of the film; this would have been resolved with him learning to let go of his grief. However, since this went against the meaning of Día de Los Muertos, Pixar abandoned that concept to prevent misrepresentation as seen in Pocahontas and Ratatouille. Miguel's design was inspired by two real-life kids who were Emilio Fuentes (who provided the original scratch voice for Miguel while the movie was in development) and Adriel Arriaga (the son of a character designer). In early drafts and deleted scenes, Miguel was originally called Marco, who was more confident and arrogant. He was originally not cursed when he stole Hector's guitar as it went to the deceased Riveras instead (causing them to sing strangely whenever they open their mouths). He originally was also able to cross the bridge to the Land of the Dead with Héctor's guitar as his ticket. Marco was redeveloped into Miguel because the production team realized that Disney had another character named Marco from Star vs. the Forces of Evil who looked exactly like Miguel.
Miguel has dreamed of being a musician for years. However, due to a family taboo against music, Miguel keeps his dreams mostly to himself. The only ones who know of Miguel's dreams are his great grandmother Mamá Coco and his dog Dante. A traveling mariachi mentions a music contest being held on Día de los Muertos to Miguel but the mariachi is quickly chased off by Miguel’s Abuelita. Miguel decides to enter the contest.
While preparing his family's ofrenda for the festival, Miguel contemplates why his family has banned music, with it going back to his great-great grandmother. After Miguel's dog, Dante, stirs their ofrenda, resulting in a photo of his great-great grandparents falling out, Miguel shortly recognizes that his great-great grandfather's guitar is that of the famed Ernesto de la Cruz, his idol. Miguel concludes that Ernesto is his great-great grandfather. With renewed vigor, Miguel decides to follow his passions, starting by entering the contest. Miguel's family tries to dissuade him, stating that such a vocation will only lead to tragedy like his great-great grandfather. When Abuelita puts Miguel on the spot by choosing between family and his dreams, Miguel still desires to be a musician, prompting Abuelita to angrily smash his guitar, despite his and even the rest of the family's objections. Fed up with his family's hatred of music and lack of support, Miguel steals Imelda's photo and runs away from home in tears.
Miguel defiantly enters the contest. But with his guitar gone he starts to seek a replacement. After much reluctance he enters de la Cruz's mausoleum and ask him to borrow his guitar. After briefly playing the guitar, Miguel finds he can no longer interact with the living and has traveled to the spirit-world. Though none of the people can see him, Dante still can. While in the spirit world, Miguel meets his deceased family members who soon guide him to the Land of the Dead to help turn Miguel back to normal. Miguel speaks with his great-great grandmother Imelda, who states she is unable to cross-over for Día de los Muertos due to her photo being knocked out of the family ofrenda. They soon learn that a curse was placed on Miguel due to his theft of the guitar, which had trapped him in the Land of the Dead. If Miguel remains in the land after sunrise, he will become a spirit and remain trapped in the land forever. When they learn that the curse can be broken via a family member's blessing, Imelda says she will give him her blessing and never play music again. Miguel refuses, running off to seek his great-great grandfather to get his blessing instead.
Miguel meets Héctor who offers to help after he hears that he knows de la Cruz. Héctor agrees to help Miguel find de la Cruz if he puts his picture on an ofrenda when he gets home, which Miguel gladly agrees to. The two hear of a contest to meet de la Cruz. Upon getting Miguel a guitar, he performs in the contest. During the contest, the deceased Riveras show up. Héctor confronts Miguel about the family as he lied and said Ernesto was his only family. Shortly after Miguel leaves Héctor and Dante to go find Ernesto by himself, he escapes his family by running into an alleyway. Imelda says that she didn't ban music because she hated it, but because her family meant more. But Miguel isn't moved and continues toward Ernesto's mansion, feeling that Imelda won't accept his love for music. After he gets inside, Miguel gets Ernesto's attention by singing a song. He tells Ernesto he is his great-great grandson and how he needs his blessing in order to go home. Ernesto agrees, but is interrupted by Héctor, who shows up to remind Miguel of their deal.
Héctor reveals that all of Ernesto's famous songs were actually written by him. When Héctor says Ernesto once said he would move Heaven and Earth for him, Miguel points out how that quote was actually used in one of de la Cruz's films. As Héctor retraces the events of his last night alive out loud, he suddenly accuses Ernesto of poisoning him. Ernesto has his guards take Héctor away. With Héctor dragged off, Ernesto asks Miguel if he believes Héctor. Miguel tries to assure Ernesto that he doesn't but Ernesto recognizes the doubt in Miguel's voice and calls for his guards to take Miguel away as well. Miguel protests, saying the two of them are family but Ernesto ignores the pleas.
Miguel is thrown in the cenote, where he starts to cry in sadness and he finds Héctor. Eventually, while recounting their regrets, they piece together that Héctor is Miguel's real great-great grandfather. Shortly after the discovery, Dante leads the other Riveras to them to save them. Though Imelda is still hostile toward Héctor, Miguel mends the relationship. Imelda soon agrees to help as Coco is losing her memory of them. The Riveras arrive at Ernesto's concert to get Héctor's photo back. Imelda and Héctor get ready to give their blessing to send Miguel back with the photo, however Ernesto drops Miguel from the building, interrupting the blessing. Dante tries to save him but Miguel is too heavy and he loses the photo mid-fall. Miguel is saved by Pepita at the last second, but Hector's photo disappears in the lake. While Ernesto's crimes are exposed to the audience filmed by deceased Riveras, everyone is boos him for his crimes. With dawn on its way, Miguel is almost completely a spirit. Héctor is starting to fade away and though Miguel does not want to leave him, he is forced to accept Imelda's blessing to save him and Coco.
Upon awakening in Ernesto's mausoleum, Miguel immediately runs back home. Once home, Miguel finds Mamá Coco catatonic, having lost most of her memory. Miguel, heartbroken over his great-great grandfather's impending fate and seeing his great-grandmother in her deteriorated state, breaks down before his parents. Suddenly, Miguel recalls Héctor's guitar and sings "Remember Me" to Coco to remind her of Héctor. Coco suddenly recalls her father and she reveals this to the other Riveras. The film's finale skips ahead one year, on the next Day of the Dead, where Héctor and music are now a celebrated part of the Rivera family. Miguel now has a new baby sister, Socorro, named in honor of his now-deceased grandmother, who reunited with her deceased family in the Land of the Dead. As the Riveras celebrate the holiday, Miguel and his older cousins play a song as his family, both living and deceased, proudly watch him as he uses Héctor's guitar.
At the beginning, Miguel was calling Dante but Dante chased a bone of a skeleton. Later Miguel screams when Dante comes and dashes into the table.
Miguel is Pixar's first non-Caucasian human protagonist for a full length feature film.
According to the deceased Riveras, Miguel's shoe size is size 7½ in Mexico and that his right foot is pronated.
Miguel is the second youngest protagonist to appear in a Pixar movie, the youngest being Arlo.
His last name is a reference to a Pixar producer, Jonas Rivera.
The novelization reveals that Miguel gets his love of music from his great-grandmother, Mamá Coco and his great-great-grandparents, Imelda and Héctor. He also looks like his great-grandfather, Papá Julio when he was a boy and Miguel gets his stubborn nature from Imelda.