“Inside Out” creators talk about the latest Pixar animation

Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), the main and most important of 11-year-old Riley’s five Emotions, explores Long Term Memory in "Inside Out." Directed by Pete Docter (“Monsters, Inc.,” “Up”), "Inside Out" opens in theaters nationwide June 19, 2015.

Disney Pixar fans will have plenty to look forward to in the summer since the creators of “Up” will have their latest film slated for a nationwide release on June 19th.

“Inside Out” tells the story of a little girl’s five emotions: Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness as they attempt to guide her through adjusting to a new life in San Francisco.

Director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera recently talked about the animated film for a college conference Q&A.

Q: Where did the idea for “Inside Out” originate?

Pete Docter: The concept kind of came from watching my kid grow up and you know, when you’re young – this is certainly true of my daughter, she was very energetic and rambunctious and jumping around and happy all the time, and then when she turned 11 she got a little more quiet and reclusive.  And I was telling these guys about it and we were like what’s going on inside her head, you know?

That’s what kind of started the idea, the idea of really featuring emotions as characters and we’ve read about how emotions affect our daily life and decisions and things and this is our chance to kind of personify them.

Jonas Rivera: Right, like how personifying emotions and creating a story within the mind, I just like how it all came from just an observation Pete had of watching his kid change.  Everybody changes, and so we thought that’s a fun idea.  What if we could somehow show that from the inside?   

Q: How did you come to choose Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and Anger as the five major emotion characters in the film?

PD: Basically, we started working with this guy Paul Eckman, Dr. Paul Eckman, who is a real pioneer and researcher in expression and he had posted that there were six emotions in his early research. It was these five plus Surprise, and as we were trying to figure out how would you personify these characters as cartoons, you know, Surprise and Fear felt kind of similar, so we just nixed that one.    We took some artistic license and that’s kind of how we ended up with it.  Of course, he’s since then gone on to say there are 16 emotions that he’s identified.

Q: Did you write the characters with certain actors in mind or did it come about the other way around?

JR: I think in the very initial pitch for the movie, Pete mentioned Lewis Black as Anger, because obviously it was such a fit and Lewis teased us about that later when we cast him.  He said, “What a brave choice to cast me.”

But some of them were the other way around. We have a casting director at the studio and as we started to write these characters and flesh them out, we would just kind of start looking around and we would just make discoveries.

Pete and Ronny was writing Sadness and I ended up seeing the movie “Bad Teacher” with Phyllis Smith in it and she was just so great and so hesitant, and so I brought her forward and that ended up working.

I think [co-director] Ronnie Del Carmen had pitched Mindy Kaling for Disgust.  She seemed to have the kind of the right attitude for what was being written before us.  And Fear, Bill Hader – we’re just such a fan of Bill and he’s so versatile, right?

PD: He can kind of do anything. So, we had him in and last was Joy.  She was the toughest and obviously we felt like we struck gold when we found Amy Poehler, but she was the trickiest and the last one.   

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