The Surprising Pixar Press Event for Inside Out

Back in January when I had the sweet opportunity to visit Pixar and Skywalker Ranch (I will drop this into any conversation when given the chance, but that's not important right now), I had the good fortune to preview about 20 minutes of the new Disney/Pixar film, Inside Out. Read all about that here.

This preview whetted my appetite for the actual film and put me in an I-can't-hardly-wait state of mind. If you've seen any of the cute trailers for the film, you'll understand why.

I finally got to see the entire film and (wait for it...) interview the very talented people who made this film happen, notably Director Pete Docter and Producer Jonas Rivera as well as the amazing cast of voice actors.


I invited my daughter, Lucy to come along since she's my assistant and is already doing press for the college she works for. I hoped she would appreciate the junket and maybe be able to fill in for me if I ever needed her to. I tried my best to reassure her that it would be a fun experience.

The first two up were Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera, the director and producer, respectively. They spoke so respectfully and fondly of having both "grown up" at Pixar and the wonderful collaborative environment there.

Jonas Rivera: I think we found, as we were working, we both kind of grew up at Pixar.  I've been there 20 years.  Pete's been there longer, going back to the first Toy Story, and we've found along the way, I mean, Pixar's a place that − it's just made of a lot of really cool people, and it's an amazing place, we're spoiled with all the talent that surrounds us.  
 But we just realize we love kind of the same movies, and we love the Disney movies of the '40s and '50s and '30s, just that Golden Age, that, again, sort of echoing what you were asking about, just that feeling we had when we were kids that we didn't want to ever lose, going to Disneyland for the first time and all those things.  
 And I think, as we talked and started to work together, even back on Monsters, we were sort of craving a similar movie, which was completely different, whatever it was, different than the movie we did last.  That was something we talked a lot about.  And even finishing the film, Up, which came out six years ago, the very first thing was, like, "How can we do something completely different than that?"  We're very proud of that, but it is always about character and emotion and that feeling.  
 And so I don't know.  We don't sit around consciously going, "All right.  Let's make a great movie."  I mean, we hope that happens, obviously, but I think it's just like, "What do we wanna see?  What did we love seeing when we were kids?  What do we wanna take our families to?  What are we gonna be proud of?  Let's aim for that."  And I'm lucky.  Pete thinks them up.  I just have to figure out how to make them.  And so I feel very honored that this is my job.  
 Pete Docter: I think we have similar tastes and different but complementary skills and a mutual respect for each other and what each other brings to the show.  I feel like, man, I can't see how I could be able to do these without Jonas, and I don't know if you feel the same way, but I think it's been a really great relationship. 

As I sat there listening to these two inordinately talented guys, I just wondered what it must be like to be so good at what you do and work in such a nurturing environment. The answer to that question definitely shows up in their final product. 

Next came the wonderfully talented voice cast. 

 Mindy Kaling, Voice of "Disgust"

Mindy Kaling, Voice of "Disgust"

 Lewis Black, Voice of "Anger"

Lewis Black, Voice of "Anger"

 Amy Poehler, Voice of "Joy," and Bill Hader, Voice of "Fear."

Amy Poehler, Voice of "Joy," and Bill Hader, Voice of "Fear."

 Phyllis Smith, Voice of "Sadness"

Phyllis Smith, Voice of "Sadness"

How incredible is this collection of comedic talent?

So many questions for these folks. Where to start? And then, from directly behind me I hear a familiar voice...

Lucy Darby: As you all just have shown, you have an excellent experience with improvisation and I was wondering if you had that opportunity in the recording studio to improvise on the characters and the dialogs and if so how much of that made it into the final cut?

Wait. What? That's my girl, Lucy. Speaking right up and asking her question as if she had been doing this whole press junket thing her whole life. I was kind of awestruck. And a little freaked out. And angry at myself for not having asked the question. And full of joy that she was so fearless.

Here's their answer...

Bill Hader: We all record by our self so that’s – you know, we’re just alone.  Actually, Mindy and I figured this out that we’re all actually reading with Pete usually so in the movie, we’re all just responding to Pete.  All our characters were basically talking to Pete.  I remember there was a part in the movie where I go up – were I said, “I’m taking the coward’s way out,” and I go up a thing.  That was in the room and I remember Ronnie del Carmen who’s a genius.  Ronnie del Carmen boarded out the sequence in Up, showing the relationship between the two people – we’re talking about that and he’s looking at me just drawing and he goes “So like that?”  And he just drew it out the way you see it.  It was unreal.  I was like “Yes, something like that” and he just did it.  Is that what you mean?

And then... they all started teasing each other and improvising and doing what they do best.

Phyllis Smith: Well, I had the privileged of recording with that lady there, with Amy.  And we did have a couple of – 
Amy Poehler: Yes.
Phyllis Smith: We had like three sessions together and there was –
Bill Hader: You guys got to record together?? 
Amy Poehler: Yes.
Phyllis Smith: Yes we did.
Amy Poehler: We recorded together.
Bill Hader: Wait. What? 
Phyllis Smith: Yes, yes.
Bill Hader: How was that like, guys?  How was that??  I guess no one wanted to record with me.  How was that getting record together?  
Phyllis Smith: It was great.
Bill Hader: Yes?
Phyllis Smith: Yes it was great.
Bill Hader: All right.
Phyllis Smith: Actually, Amy helped me through some lines.
Bill Hader: She helped you??
Phyllis Smith: Yes, some lines that I might have been having s little trouble with and she gave a suggestion to tweak here or there. 
Mindy Kaling: It’s been like Amy and Phyllis have been like really click-y throughout this process – I can – they are…
Bill Hader: That is so weird.  I’m just putting this together that I was…
Mindy Kaling: Today like Amy was just like really?
Amy Poehler: It’s just that we have some private jokes and we don’t want to tell anybody.
Mindy Kaling: And then they just went on to a movie… 
Phyllis Smith: That’s all I’m saying. 
Bill Hader: We’re going to Chipotle.

The entire press conference went on just like that. They talked about how much fun it was to make this movie. I was struck with how complimentary they were to each other and how much respect they had, not just for Disney and Pixar but for their cast mates. It was inspirational just to be present with this group.

Also, I couldn't help but be a little amazed at how Lucy just jumped right in and embraced the entire event so effortlessly. Like I said, I felt my full range of emotions when my girl just grabbed that mike and spoke right up.

And here I thought she'd be too intimidated to say a word. Obviously, I was very wrong.

It just goes to show that you really can't tell what's going on inside anyone else's head. Even your own child.

Pixar's Inside Out opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, June 19th, 2015.