‘Inside Out’ Interview: The Pixar Cast On Becoming Emotional

This week, Disney”¢Pixar’s Inside Out hits theaters, and the cast sat down to talk about how they became a part of one of Pixar’s most out of the box concepts for an animated feature. Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling, Phyllis Smith, and Lewis Black, play the emotions inside the head of an 11-year old girl coping with moving to a new town.

This is what the cast had to say about being approached to work on the film.

Q: What was it like for you all when you read the screenplay, to wrap your head literally, around the scope of what was going on in this movie?

Phyllis Smith (Sadness): I was very excited to get the call, and I really don’t know the magnitude of it even now. I was just really happy to go to Emeryville and have Pete and Jonas tell me the story, and see the pictures. And immediately, without missing a beat, I said yes! Yes please! I had a great time.

Bill Hader (Fear): All right, it was great. I kind of stalked them (Pixar). I went to them. I’m a giant fan, so I just said, “Can I please take a tour?” And I went around, and I met Pete and Jonas, and there was actually a scene (they were conceptualizing). They said, “We have this.” They didn’t tell me about the movie. They said, “There is a scene in the movie that deals with a live television element. We’d like to come to SNL.” And I said, “Come to SNL.” And they hung out at SNL for a week for reference of that sequence, and so they let me come and hang out at Pixar as a thank you. Then asked, “Do you want Fear?” And I said, “Sure.” It worked!

Amy Poehler (Joy): I came to the project later, and they have done so much work already, and a lot of people had already recorded, so I kind of got this PowerPoint presentation of what the idea was. And I couldn’t believe what it was – the setting was the mind of an 11-year old girl. I just loved that that was the setting. I honestly believe from the minute they told me the idea I was like “This film is gonna be the best Pixar movie ever made, and it’s gonna make the most money and it’s gonna win an Oscar.” And it will be the only good movie I’ve ever been in, and I can’t believe I’m in it.

Lewis Black (Anger): Apparently, I found out I was like the first one cast, so I was really the tipping point. As soon as the others heard I was in it, they couldn’t wait to be with me.

Bill Hader: Yes. They said, “You wanna be in a Lewis Black movie?” And I went “Yes.” And they said, “You got to go out to Pixar.” “Oh Pixar is doing it, oh boy.”

Lewis Black: The humility is really almost psychotic because they sent me a box of stuff with a letter, in which they said that I may not know who Pixar is… which meant that they were crazy or they thought I was just some sort of a recluse. So they said that they had this role of Anger and would I be interested in it? And maybe if I didn’t know them, then they sent me all their stuff. All these things that I’ve seen. They sent me everything and a big nice book. I think I made out better than any of you, and I leapt on it, but they also sent me about a 20-page rough draft of the script. I read it, and I said, “Oh my God, this is going to be a flop and I’m going to be in the worst thing that they’ve ever done, and maybe they’ll be something to that in its own special way.” Then I went out there, and they’ve already done 12,000 changes, and I went, “Oh yeah, you’re an idiot, Lewis.” This is crazy what’s going on here.

Mindy Kaling (Disgust): Well, that is really true. It’s almost as if Pixar and Pete and Jonas… the experience of working with them, it’s like dating a guy. It’s like this really well-raised guy, that doesn’t know he looks like Tom Brady, and has the title of Tom Brady, and it’s just like, “And we did these other movies and we have these other things,” and you’re like “I’m in.”

Amy Poehler: Totally. It’s like, “I’m about your pleasure.”

Mindy Kaling: Yes. And I wanna just make you happy and feel so honored to be with you, and you say to your friends like… because they don’t have to be that way frequently, much less wonderful organizations teeming with talent treat you much worse, and so you’re kind of like, “This is great, how do I take advantage of this? It’s really wonderful.”

Bill Hader: They act like it’s a real privilege that they get to do their jobs. It’s like they can’t believe they get to do what they do, which is really nice.

Mindy Kaling: Yes, and I don’t know if that was so great – you know, a lot of the people hear we have to create our own opportunities or we enjoy doing that, being the orchestrator of our own projects, and to be part of something where you don’t have to, they want you to collaborate, but you need to because the standard of excellence is so high, it’s such a treat.

Q: How do you relate to the emotion that you’re playing?

Mindy Kaling: The character discussed has a lot of qualities of a very impatient, judgmental, adolescent girl, and because I seem to be recurring in playing that role over and over again in my career, she just says the things I say on a really bad day… the things I really wanna say, but then don’t say it. Basically, in my mind the parenthetical role or her lines is, “I can’t. I can’t with this,” it’s just like what she’s always thinking.

Lewis Black: For me, it’s just that my family argued all the time, that’s what we did, that was the way we expressed love, and it’s always been. So that kind of anger is always kind of being a part of me. And my mother couldn’t cook.

Amy Poehler: Well, I think there are some characteristics of Joy – like just maybe some unrelenting energy and bossiness perhaps that Pete, Jonas, and Ronnie thought I could pull off, maybe from the other characters that I’ve played. And I do think she just likes living in the moment, and maybe, I like to think that I do that too. But I aspire to be more like Joy, and I think that characters in the film get all of the range of emotions. Everybody feels anger, fear, sadness, joy, each in their own journey.

Bill Hader: I’m a big wimp, I don’t know. I guess they thought, “He needs to play Fear.”

Phyllis Smith: (Jokes) Likewise, I’m just a mess, and I’m a real sad sack. I sit around and mope all day, and I think they saw that effervescent side of me and decided to hone in on it. No, it’s actually my insecurities and those little quirks that I have, that Pete was able to glean out of me.

Inside Out opens this Friday!


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