We were invited to the press conference for the Disney & Pixar Film Onward, which will open on March 6th, 2020 domestically. Producer Kori Rae and director Dan Scanlon joined Tom Holland (Ian) and Chris Pratt (Barley) to talk about what will be the first of two Pixar films for 2020. We weren’t able to record the entire 30 minute press conference, but we have a clip of almost 6 minutes below in the article.
Scanlon discussed how personal the story was for him. “My father passed away when I was about a year old and my brother was three. So as you can imagine, we can’t remember him at all, but we always wondered who he was and how we were like him.” That eventually led to Onward, asking what if you could meet him? And then they added sprites and elves “to that incredibly sad story”.
Scanlon started writing Onward about six years ago, followed by re-writing and animation. He is again teaming with Rae, who he worked with on Monsters University. Scanlon talked first about the character of Ian and how he was written more sarcastically at first, but that Holland “brought a sincerity to him and a vulneribility that was crucial in a way that I didn’t quite understand. Then he continued about Chris Pratt playing Barley, that Pratt was very protective of Barley and when certain dialogue was added to the film, Pratt would say “He’s not an idiot…”.
Holland and Pratt were asked about how they related to the characters. Holland said, “It’s interesting. I’m the oldest brother of four, and Chris is the youngest brother of two. So we kind of switched, I’m playing the younger brother and he’s playing the older brother so it was kind of nice of us to make that switch”. Holland said that the two were already close before playing in the film. He also continued that he was an introvert in his teens, being a nervous kid having a hard time in school. He came out of his shell in “Billy Elliot”. Pratt spent some time talking about how uncomfortable the couch was (which is also in our video). He then said that he received a note from Scanlon that was against Pratt’s own instinct, but Pratt is glad it turned out he took Scanlon’s advice. I’m not going to post it in this article because it is a little bit of a spoiler, but it is in our video.
Rae and Scanlon were asked where the idea for the half dad came from, and how they knew where to cut him off (to laughter). Rae answered, “You’d be amazed sitting in a story room with a group of like ten or twelve people, having a very serious conversation about that – for days, weeks, months.” Holland smiled and asked, “Where else could you cut him off?” before laughing. Rae continued, “We tried it all. We thought just a pair of shoes at first I think.” And there was one version of the story where it started with shoes but then more was added over the course of the story.
The four were asked what they wanted audience-goers to learn about the movie. Scanlon said seriously, “I think it’s a film about support and the people that go above and beyond in our lives to help us become the people we are today.” And how you can be that for someone else as well.
The press conference was both serious and fun, as you can see in the clip.