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Inside Out Press Conference (Teri’s Take)

I had the privilege to attend the press conference for “Inside Out”.   The film opens in theaters nationwide June 19th.

Disney Pixar Inside Out

The event was broken up into two segments.  First up Peter Docter, the director, and Jonas Rivera, the producer.  They discussed the inspiration for the film and some of the story elements.   Then we were introduced to the voice cast of the five emotions.  Doing this allowed for questions tailored to that group.

Inside Out Press Conference

This was truly a treat to get to talk with them and hear where the concept for movie came from. “Inside Out” is very unique in its approach and content as to that it is something that all kids and adults can relate to it at some point in their life. So being able to talk with the guys that brought it to life was very interesting to me.

The questions started off exploring the origins of the film.  Pete Docter was asked where the initial idea came from:

Pete Docter:                      
Well, I noticed my daughter growing up, being a little less goofy and wacky and funny and a little more shy and quiet because she had turned 11.  And at the same time, I was looking at different ideas for a film and thought about emotions as characters. 
So the basic pitch that I gave to Jonas at first, and then ultimately John, was, "What if we have an 11-year-old girl who’s moved across the country, but she’s actually not the main character; she’s the setting, because inside her head are her emotions that help her deal with everyday life?" 

Next the questions moved into the emotions that represented in the film.  Starting off with why five emotions, why not more or less and why these five?

Pete Docter:                      
Yeah, the very beginning pitch, I think I had pitched optimism, which is, we learned later, not really an emotion, and joy.  So I had fear and anger and some other ones, and we realized, man, we don’t really know anything about this.  So we did a lot of research, and that’s where this came from. 

There is no consensus amongst scientists about how many emotions there actually are.  Some say 3; some say 27; most are somewhere in the middle.  So we realized, well, we get to kind of make this up. 

So we arrived at five, mainly because it’s a nice odd number.  It felt like a good crowd, enough contrast and conflict between them, but not so big that you’re, like, "Wait, who’s that again?  Schadenfreude?  Okay.  Lost track of −" so, if we were to represent all 27, I just − my brain was hurting, thinking of writing for all these characters. 

We ended up at these five, largely because of the work of Dr. Paul Ekman, who was one of the consultants on the show.  And he had originally, back in the ’70s, posited six.  It was our five, plus surprise.  And we felt surprise, as a cartoon, is probably fairly similar to fear.  So we jettisoned that one, and that’s how we ended up with the five. 

Now that they had the five main characters defined it was time to assemble the cast of actors to play them. This was no small task, because if you end up with the wrong people playing the characters, they would not work or be as strong/ loveable as they are. Two characters that were discussed are “Anger” and “Joy”

Anger – Lewis Black
Inside Out Press Conference
Jonas Rivera:                    
Yeah, I called Lewis through our casting department at Pixar, and we pitched him the movie.  We wanted him to play Anger.  And he immediately, like, I think what he said was, like, "Great, real stretch casting, guys, brilliant." 

Pete Docter:                      
Gives us a hard time. 

Jonas Rivera:                    
Like, mocks us for calling him.  That was even perfect.  He was so great. 

Joy – Amy Pohler

Inside Out Press Conference

Pete Docter:                      
Joy was the last one to be cast, and it was the most difficult of any of the characters to write for because she had a tendency of being really annoying.  If you write someone who is always chipper and upbeat and, "Come on, guys, we can do this," it just kind of got like, oh, you wanna sock that person. 

And so Amy was able to put that in some way that made it just entertaining.  It was not insufferable.  You root for her.  And I think there were a couple other smaller writing clues that helped break that open a little bit, too, but we can talk about that extra, if we need to.

After Pete and Jonas left the five actors took the stage.  We learned more about the characters and even more through the interaction of the actors who voiced them.   DISGUST (Mindy Kaling), ANGER (Lewis Black),   JOY (Amy Poehler), FEAR (Bill Hader), and SADNESS (Phyllis Smith).  

Inside Out Press Conference

Each actor was asked how they personally relate to the emotion they are playing:
Mindy Kaling:                   
Sure, I think that there’s a – 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 thing 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 I’ve spent – 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 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?

Bill Hader:                           
I think yes, I’m a big whimp, I don’t know. I guess he needs to play Fear.

Phyllis Smith:                    
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 that I think they – you know, those little quirks that I have – that Pete was able to glean out of me so – yes.

Sadness plays a pivotal role in the film and is truly one of the biggest core characters and emotions expressed in the movie.  This surprised me and was not what I expected going into the movie but it works very well and is an underlying theme/purpose in the film.  Phyllis Smith who plays Sadness reflected on this:

Inside Out Press Conference
Photo credited to Disney/Pixar

Phyllis Smith:                    
I attribute that to the genius of Pete Docter and the writers and they really – they took me on a journey too.  I didn’t realize that it was going to have that kind of feeling until the end of the movie and I just love how Joy and Sadness – it shows the importance of your emotions in your life and that’s it is okay to be sad and to have – and Joy just complements it – becomes aware of that too.  It’s a really nice moment.  So it’s Pete Docter’s fault; it’s all his fault. 

To sum it up, my quick take/one liner on “Inside Out”: This movie is a great addition to the Disney/Pixar line-up, and while it will tug at your emotions and fill our eyes to tears at times, you will leave having falling in love with the characters.

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Lover of all things Disney since I was a child and with a new child of my own, excited to experience everything through his eyes.

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