Stars and Filmmakers Talk “Inside Out” at Press Conference in Beverly Hills: Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black & More

We first learned of the film Inside Out at the Disney D23 Expo nearly 2 years ago. It was to be Pixar’s next project, and we spoke with the talented Phyllis Smith (Sadness) about the upcoming movie. At the time, the show The Office was just winding down, and we asked Smith about working with Mindy Kaling (Disgust) again. It turns out, they weren’t spending much time together while working on Inside Out (which is often the case with animated films), but the group of stars behind the voices of Pixar’s newest film acted like longtime friends at a recent press conference in Beverly Hills, an event filled with laughter and a range of emotions. Pixar celebrates 20 years since the original Toy Story this year (and I do remember the first time I saw it in the movie theater).

Photo by B.L., Mousesteps

Unlike other press conferences, we weren’t able to videotape. We asked permission to share a few of our favorite audio minutes of the press conference, and it was hard to narrow down from the total of 90 or so minutes. We sent a reporter, meaning we didn’t see it ourselves either, but fortunately we could listen to the entire presentation. I often enjoy the press conferences as much as the movies, they are usually a lot of fun.

Read our review of Inside Out here!

Before reading through our press conference article, here are some audio highlights from the press conference.

The longest segment of the press conference was with the voice talent: Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, Amy Poehler (Joy), Lewis Black (Anger) and Bill Hader (Fear).

Photo by B.L., Mousesteps

There are certainly similarities with the actors and their corresponding characters. Amy Poehler was so upbeat most of the time, saying that from the moment she read the script, she knew it would be the very best film that Pixar ever made – the one that made the most money, and “wins an Oscar” (her optimism evokes a lot of laughter). “And it will be the only good movie I’ve ever been in”. Poehler also said that she aspires to be more like Joy. When everyone was asked what would be their secondary choice for playing a character (the consensus was Anger), Poehler said that she had a fear that Joy would be annoying, and apparently she was, because “no one wanted to be her” (again, to quite a bit of laughter). While I never found Joy annoying in the film at all, my favorite characters are Sadness and Anger.

Photo by B.L., Mousesteps

Lewis Black seemed to relish his role, saying it fit him well. And he was humored by the fact that Pixar sent him a box prior to being cast that said “You may not know who Pixar is”. Black said that the humility shown was “almost psychotic”. He continued, saying that Pixar was either crazy or “they thought that I was some sort of recluse”.

It turns out, Bill Hader is a huge Pixar fan. Hader said he “stalked” Pixar, showing up in Emeryville in 2010 and asking for a tour. There, he met Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera (the director and producer of Inside Out).  We spoke with Hader at the Disney D23 Expo as well, where he told us that working on animated films was harder than it appears at first glance. He told us that he would sit inside the studio, alone, where he’d be screaming. “Because every line you scream”, he said. And that makes me laugh now, thinking of him voicing the frenetic Fear all by himself in a room. Hader said that the filmmakers also spent a week observing Saturday Night Live to get an idea of live television for a scene in the film, and Hader was part of that.

Director Pete Docter and Producer Jonas Rivera also talked a bit about how the film came about in a separate part of the press conference. Docter’s daughter Elie had recently turned 11, and he noticed she wasn’t as goofy as she once was. They chose to zero in on that age bracket for the role of Riley in Inside Out. One question I thought of that was asked at the press conference had to do with Big Hero 6. In that film, San Francisco was the focus of the movie in a good way. In Inside Out, it isn’t. Docter and Rivera said that they did show some nice views as well – but Riley’s move put her in San Francisco, and was the kickoff of her angst. They also said that there aren’t an exact number of emotions known, but they whittled it down to 5 so it wasn’t confusing with too many characters. I think that was a great choice, I remember seeing an ad many years ago for one particular Disney film and there were so many main characters in it that I decided not to view it. The 5 emotions, along with Riley and her parents are easy to follow along with in Inside Out – not to mention Bing Bong, who has less screen time than many of the others. They were also asked about the similarities to Cranium Command, which Docter said he had helped animate. One of the differences between the Epcot attraction and the Pixar film is that Inside Out focuses solely on the brain.

Photo by B.L., Mousesteps

The third segment of the press conference had to do with the lovely short “Lava”. I personally like Lava as much or more than “Inside Out”, it is my favorite Pixar short, and I really like all of them! Director John Ford Murphy was inspired 25 years ago on his honeymoon, where he fell in love with “tropical islands, active volcanoes and Hawaiian music”. He wanted to write a song that was similar to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel “Iz” Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole. He also had seen a sign about Wai’anae, an underwater volcano that is due to join the surface in 10k – 100k years. When his sister got married at the age of 43, he said he had an epiphany – what if volcanoes looked for love like humans do?

Here is a video of Murphy singing a portion of the song after the press conference. It can now be purchased digitally on Amazon.

Murphy showed storyboards for the short.

Photo by B.L., Mouseteps

Photo by B.L., Mousesteps

A lot of thought went into the creation of Inside Out and Lava. I always am glad to be able to share press conferences because it helps lend an appreciation for the work that went into a film, and the thought process behind it. And I hope you see Inside Out – and make sure to arrive early enough for Lava.