Chatting With The Cast & Filmmakers of Disney Pixar Incredibles 2!

(Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Disney)

Hey All!

This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to attend the press event for Disney Pixar Incredibles 2. In attendance was Craig T. Nelson (“Bob Parr / Mr. Incredible”), Holly Hunter (“Helen Parr / Elastigirl”), Samuel L. Jackson (“Lucius Best / Frozone”), Bob Odenkirk (“Winston Deavor”), Catherine Keener (“Evelyn Deavor”),  Sophia Bush (“Voyd”), Sarah Vowell (“Violet Parr”), Huck Milner (“Dash Parr”), Director Brad Bird, Producer Nicole Grindle and Producer John Walker.

They had all the amazing Incredibles 2 toys and products on display and a fun Edna Mode to take photos with.

After all that fun, we got to chat with the cast and filmmakers. After being inquired as to how she felt about the screenplay and the role reversal and pushing her character of Elastigirl to the forefront, Holly Hunter responds:

“Well I didn’t read the screenplay. There wasn’t really one.”

This of course inspired some laughs from the cast and audience but she continued:

“He’s my screenplay.”

Pointing to director Brad Bird. “He was my instruction manual. That’s it right there.”

“It was a while before I truly really realized what I was really gonna get to do in the movie. And I was, y’know, really thrilled. But it was a retroactive thrill because it was over a period of months before I started gleefully singing during our recording sessions about how great my part was. It was really fun. I mean I don’t think this was a message movie in any way. I think it was luck of the draw that this happens to be dovetailing with ME TOO and TIMES UP. But obviously times up ok. And I feel that way personally. And it happens to be serendipitously reflected in this particular movie. At the same times its character revelation, period. Everybody is having revelations, including Jack-Jack. I mean all the characters’ relations to the audience and to themselves. And so I’m no exception as Elastigirl.”

True to her character Violet (Sarah Vowell) sarcastically pitched in:

“Even there’s a racoon goes on a hero’s journey.”

Moving to Craig T. Nelson with the same question, he responded from Mr. Incredible’s point of view as he jokingly feigns disappointment over his new role:

“I was resentful when I was told that Mr. Incredible was going to be in this film not saving lives, not exhibiting any kind of strength at all.”

Brad Bird rushed in to sooth the “incredible” ego but was quickly interrupted with more joking of bitterness:

“Ah quiet ya.” Again the audience erupted into laughter. But Nelson continued:

“And then I found out that I’m gonna be helping save the family. And Bob’s gonna learn how to be a dad and learn about these kids. And then the process started when we were recording that was just so much fun. I mean the stuff I did with Violet and the two of us together and Jack-Jack and that whole discovery and then Dash and just the deal with Elastigirl out there and what I want to do being able to give her real encouragement. Letting her know that everything’s ok at home. It was just a lot of fun. I was so honored to be a part of it. To be doing this film.”

Sophia Bush (new character of Voyd) who as a fan of the first Incredibles and Pixar as a whole had this to say:

“One of the things that I think is just so cool about the whole thing is the layering of all the technology that makes these films look to all of us the way they look in Brad’s head. Its wild to see the early stages of animation and to watch some of the scenes and then see what they become in the final edit. And it’s also totally nuts to go into the studio, and I know that technically I’m talking to Holly (Hunter) but she’s not there. It’s like me and Brad and I’m just yelling into a void going “Am I doing this right?’”

Quick to catch the pun of Sophia inadvertently saying her character’s name, Brad Bird interrupted:

“Yelling into a what?”

Sophia laughed and confessed:

“That’s embarrassing. I’m sweating. That’s a subconscious trick that we play on ourselves. I’ve said ‘incredible’ so many times today describing the movie. That’s terrible.”

Sarah Vowell jumped in:

“You know, not only do we not see a screenplay, sometimes we don’t know where we are in any scene. So you’re like ‘is this in a car? Uh…How loud am I’? Like you’re trying to get the architecture, literal architecture of where the character is because everything has to be drawn from scratch. A live actor, they’re actually in the car or a facsimile thereof. So (we’re) trying to gage. But where it is that is what the scene is about sometimes. Like it’s not just they’re at a kitchen table. Its everything that a family being at a kitchen table implies.”

Sophia continued:

“That’s so true. It’s like are you talking to a person that’s as far away from each other as we are or someone that’s in the back of the room. It does change what you’re doing vocally.”

Because Samuel L. Jackson is a player in two superhero universes (Pixar, Marvel) he is asked about the influences that both successful universes have on each other, including the family aspect:

“What family? As I remember that family kind of fell out in the Infinity War didn’t it? And nobody called me to make them be good. I asked that also. Why am I not there quelling this fire. I did bring on people into SHIELD and then all of the sudden, I’m not there. So I don’t what you’re talking about. I can’t relate.”

After that bit of playful sass, Sam Jackson then made a few observations:

“The genre has grown and kind of grown inside this one place. Sure there’s that other company that makes movies that are like this. Some….a couple of them are good. There’s a real interesting kind of playbook that I look at sometimes when I watch all of the movies. It’s like they have this secret sauce that-sometimes I wonder, cause I’m there, and I’m looking at the directors and I go ‘These guys do a TV show, why are they doing this?’ Or this person does these serious dramas, why is he doing this? But there’s something they know, or they find that they make it work and the relationships among the people on those films always becomes more intimate very intricate. And sometimes, like the people that are really related like Loki and Thor, they don’t like each other. Like there is family discord. And they people that don’t know each other that are looking for that connection are tied together in an interesting sort of way. You’ve got your bratty brother; Iron Man. You’ve got your kind of love kind of special needs kid in Hulk. And you’ve got your sister who turns out to be Black Widow, a real killer. All these things come together and these people find a common goal or they are all working toward a common good which brings them together in the end and in a very interesting way. And Nick Fury seems to be the-”

Brad Bird quickly jumped in and asks:

“How did this turn into an Avengers Press Conference?”

Sam replied:

“I’m just saying they don’t let me work in all those movies for a reason. Because I really don’t know what’s going, but I have to pretend I do. Kinda like this one. I really don’t know what’s going on but I know they need me and I make the icey stuff and I make things happen in a heroic kind of way. Thanks for letting me do that.”

Holly Hunter joined in the Avengers talk,

“We really need a bow and arrow. We need a bow and arrow guy.”

Jackson replied with a little more of that sass commenting how much he values a character with a bow and arrow:

“You need a bow and arrow. We don’t all need a bow and arrow.”

Catherine Keener was asked what she thought of the finished product:

“It was very thrilling and fun. I just wanted to go back to a couple of things. First, I’m just getting to know all these people. Sarah and I have been friends a long time, 14 years, whatever. Holly I’ve known you and you guys. But I’m realizing that Brad kind of mined a lot of the inside of people and the characters. And like Craig, I was just talking to him about his kids. And he’s a big mush dad. And you can see that. All of these people are awesome. I’ll see any movie where Holly is a bad ass, regardless of gender. And I don’t know. I’ve done press with this man (referring to Bob Odenkirk). I know he’s done roles where he’s played maybe not so likeable a guy. But he’s actually very sweet and his character has that too. So I just appreciate how inciteful you are (talking directly to Brad Bird).”

Asking the same question to Bob Odenkirk, he replied:

“It was super fun to see it. I loved it. I’ve been knocked out by the visuals in this film and I’ve only seen little moments from it in the course of recording this, so to see it in big beautiful color on the giant screen, I knew it was gonna be amazing. And it’s beyond all expectations. I feel like there’s new technology that you’re not telling us about. Because it just looks… it’s got such richness and depth. That was a great treat. But again like everyone else, I didn’t read the whole script. There was never a whole script that you could read. So it’s the first time I get to see the whole story and I’m once again amazed at Brad Bird’s talent as a writer, as a director, as an orchestrator of story. There’s like five movies in this movie and they all work together to throw each other into relief and then make each other better. It was a helluva experience. I know my family, including nieces and nephews, young; my son and daughter, older. Teenagers. Everyone related to it. They enjoyed the whole story and everyone related to different characters and to themes because there are so many and they were delivered so well.”

At this point Director Brad Bird expressed what was going on in a very animated and fun way:

“Then suddenly the pressure is huge. And then that plot doesn’t work. And now I’m screwed because I have a release date and everybody’s going ‘Incredibles 2 Incredibles 2. We’re working on Incredibles 2. You know what you’re doing right?’ And I’m like yeah I know what I’m doing (said in a loopy voice). ‘Two years left. Just two years left. I hope you feel comfortable. Do you feel comfortable? Because everybody has high expectations ok?’ And I just realized it didn’t serve the story so the villain plot kept changing. And it kept changing. And Ralph (Eggleston) had to adjust to it, everyone else had to adjust to it constantly which only made it more anxiety, but I think that we wound up with the right version of this movie.”

Bird then returned to answering the question and talked about how the experience related to the first Incredibles:

“But it wasn’t until about a week ago, I was talking in one of these things and I realized that was also true of the first movie. Incredibles was the only project that came outside of Pixar and was pitched to Pixar. And I had drawings, I had designs, I outlined the whole thing. How it looked and all kinds of artwork that I paid for myself. And if they didn’t want to make it I was going to take it somewhere else. But I came with a villain that was a different villain than we wound up with. In exploring an alternate opening when I came to Pixar, I introduced a villain that we killed off in the opening sequence and that was a better villain than the one that we had. “Oh yeah. This guy’s better than the one we had and that was Syndrome.’ The villain kind of, for some reason, I don’t know why, comes last.”

When bringing up the subject of both Incredibles films being good for kids and adults, Brad Bird made an observation:

“Yeah kids are strangely treated like beards.”

After some uproarious laughter, he elaborated:

“I’m a single guy but I want to see this. I found a kid can I come in now? Here’s this kid I found him I paid for his ticket, will you let me in?’ and it’s like no man, it’s an art form. It’s like for anyone that likes movies. You don’t need to have a kid. People are like actually coming up to me, ‘My kid really enjoyed it.’ And I go, did you like it? ‘Oh yeah, but Billy. Billy really liked it.’ Ok, I made it for you and Billy can come. But I’m not a kid and I made something I would want to see. And we’re not kids and we worked on this.”

Brad Bird reflected on what makes The Incredibles different from other superhero films:

“There was a dark moment when the machinery was kicked into gear. And I realized, two years from now, the film is going to come out. There’s too many superhero movies now. Are people just going to be sick of this in two years? And just what I want to happen, I arrive on the scene and is everybody ready for some fresh superheroes? So, then I had a dark moment and then I realized that what excited me about the idea in the first place was not the superheroes. It was about the family dynamic. And people’s roles in different parts of their life. And how superheroes-how that genre is like a lemon that you squeeze on top of it and not what the movie is about. And I got excited because families are kind of a continent of fresh opportunities because it’s so universal and I got excited again when I thought about it that way which is really what got me excited about the first movie.”

The filmmakers are then asked about the shows (Johnny Quest and The Outer Limits) being displayed on the TV the family is watching in the film. Brad Bird responded:

“One of my personal rules in an animated film is if they’re watching something on tv it should be animated. So the soundtrack to the old movie is actually a soundtrack from an old movie and it was perfect. And we animated to it. And Johnny Quest is an animated show so it fit into the universe and it’s the style of the film. Action, adventure style from the early sixties, so it fits with our film. Outer Limits, we only used the beginning of it because it’s still abstract it’s still lines and things. It’s not visual photographs and that part fit really well with the Screen-Slaver thing. Y’know because they’re talking about taking control of your tv. And I just remember when I was a kid that scared the crap out of me. That the tv for once a week was being controlled by who? Aliens?! But I couldn’t leave the room, but I would just be hiding from the tv because it was being taken over. You know ‘we control the vertical. We control the horizontal.’ And I’m like, ‘They control the horizontal!’ And I just had to put it in there.”

And on a final note, Brad Bird wanted to passionately declare his undying love for Johnny Quest:

“Also, I have to quickly say I LOVE JOHNNY QUEST! A lot of people don’t remember that it wasn’t made for Saturday morning, it was made for Primetime. It came on at night and adults watched it. And people dies in it. And everything an eight year old wants in entertainment. It has mummies. It has pterodactyls, and guns, and a kid from another country who can levitate things. And a body guard who has a fling with a woman that might be dangerous. And lasers and hydrofoils and jet packs and reptiles and robot spies and I just about exploded when I saw the opening titles. We just had to give Johnny Quest a shout out. Had too.”

It was so great to learn so much about the sequel to an amazing movie I have been waiting for some time for.

INCREDIBLES 2 opens in theatres everywhere on June 15th! Be sure to get your tickets now, as you don’t want to miss it!

Stay tuned for our thoughts on the film Friday.

Visit the official INCREDIBLES 2 website here:

Jesse Delia