*I was invited to Pixar as part of the Incredibles 2 Event. All opinions are my own and not swayed by outside sources. Photo credit: Pixar.*
In a few short weeks, Incredibles 2 comes out! After 10 years from the original one, I know everyone is eagerly awaiting this film. We just saw a commercial on TV last night and my youngest (who was not alive when the first film came out) was like, “Mommy…This looks so good… Let’s go see it!” I am excited to take my three kids to an epic Pixar movie coming out on June 15th. As part of the Incredibles 2 Event, we not only had the chance to visit Pixar, but we had the chance to sit down with Incredibles 2 Director Brad Bird, as well as producers Nicole Grindle and John Walker. We talked a lot about how technology and the story line has changed between the first and second Incredibles, along with what changes were necessary (and what were not) coming from the first movie 10 years back. It was incredible to talk to such a legendary director and producers.
INTERVIEW WITH BRAD BIRD, NICOLE GRINDLE, and JOHN WALKER:
Question 1: What took so long for this movie to come back?
“I think there’s a tendency nowadays to not even get the soda pop. You just want direct syrup. You just want the syrup now. I don’t know. I think that, for me it was not intentional. I just don’t think it’s maybe the greatest idea creatively to follow-up, a successful film with its sequel. I think that you want to take time. You want to think about it. You want to enjoy the process.
I was always thinking about it in the back of my mind, but I had other things that were more at the forefront. And sort of the more I kinda chewed on it, the more I thought, that’ll be cool. And then suddenly it was like 15 years later or something and I went, holy crap, I better get going on something. It’s not intentional, it’s not calculated in any way. It probably would’ve been smarter if it were a cash grab to do it a lot sooner.
But, you know, I just was mulling on it and it finally seemed like the right thing to do. I didn’t want to wait any longer though, because it was clearly too long.” –Brad Bird
Question 2: How easy was it for you to get back into those characters?
Brad Bird said it was quite easy. He said a lot of it had to do with his upbringing. Even though the movie is brightly colored and pop confection, he said it was also really personal to him.
“I like those characters and they’re comfortable to me, And what’s fun after you’ve made the first one is that you have your ideal voice cast. And when you write, you’re actually imagining Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sam Jackson, Sarah Vowell’s voices. So, it’s even easier to write, in terms of dialogue. In terms of story, it’s not easy at all.”- Brad Bird
He said the character part is fun but the plot part is painful.
Question 3: In all the other sessions we keep hearing that Brad wanted to do this in the first one, but the technology wasn’t there yet. We heard that multiple times. Is there anything big that stood out that you really are like, yes, we finally get to do this?
He told us that Pixar kind of invented the feature computer animation thing and for a while there with every film there was this giant, easy-to-talk-about breakthrough.
“ First, it was just doing it. And then it became more complex shapes or blue fur. The first film that featured all humans. Now it has passed its infancy, and you can talk about the stuff, but it tends to be smaller stuff.
It means a lot to us when we make it, but it’s not as easy to talk about in terms of something different that they see. I can tell you that the characters look more like our original designs in the first film than they did in the first film. We got close, but we didn’t get them bang on. And on this film, they’re bang on.
And once you see this film, when you go back to the first film you kinda go, oh. To me this film is what we were thinking. And we came close, but we didn’t get it. And the first film, the big deal was that there was no single big deal. It was everything. We had three times as many sets as any Pixar film before. We had everything that CG animation was bad at. We did the bad at humans, bad at hair, bad at fire, bad at water. And we just had a whole film that was filled with everything that CG couldn’t do well at that point.
So it really almost broke the studio in terms of the absolute cutting edge of what could be done. And on this film, it still was a real challenge. But the medium has improved so much that you can do good fire now. You can do good water. You can do good hair. And so, it was just a gain the amount of it. We had a lot.”- Brad Bird
Question 4: Was there an idea that changed throughout the process?
“The central idea, which was a role switch between Bob and Helen, and the fact that the family didn’t know of the baby’s powers and that they would learn about it in this film. That almost dates back to the first film’s release, I had those ideas. What changed all the time was the sort of superhero plot. And that changed radically. And because we had a little less time to do our film, you couldn’t take any time to changes things. If something didn’t pay off immediately, you had to abandon it, because the release date was looming and you had to find stuff that that works.
And it was this sort of binary process. And so, that was tough. The sort of superhero plot changed a lot. But the core idea of Helen getting the mission and Bob staying at home and them having to cope with the baby’s powers, that’s my oldest idea for this film.”- Brad Bird
Question 5: So, when the first movie released, there are not so many super movie franchise as many as nowadays. So, how does it affect the story development from then to now?
He told us when he did the first film there were only
two active big franchises, and one was Spiderman and the other was X-Men. Marvel was not kicked into high gear with Ironman and all that stuff. So with all the superpower and superhero /television shows there are out now, he told us it is much harder to do a unique story now. However, he said what is unique about his movie is that is a truly family origin movie at the heart of it all. Their superpowers were based on their iconic family roles.
“You know, the dad is always expected to be strong. The mom is always stretched in a million directions. Teenagers are defensive and insecure. So, she has force fields and invisibility. Ten-year-olds are energy balls. And babies are unknowns. They could have no powers at all, or they could be the next leader, of the free world or whatever. So, where they were in the family was how we chose their powers. And that was a unique approach, because it was more about stages of your life. And I think one of the reasons we’ve been successful is that everyone connects with at least two of the characters, and that’s because we’ve all been teenagers. We’ve all been children.
Many of us have kids, and so we’ve dealt with little babies, which are really challenging to keep up with. And teenagers, which are, you know, also a handful in a completely different way. We have had parents that seem kinda clueless at moments and the dad that maybe speaks before he really knows what he’s talkin’ about. And the mom that manages everything. So, that’s where our strength lies, and that’s what makes us different. And if we thought about it in those terms, it became a lot easier to make our film.”- Brad Bird
Questoni 6: How did Holly Hunter and Craig T. Nelson react when they go the phone call?
They were both really happy to come back. They did not see the script before agreeing. They knew their characters, what they looked like,, and how they spoke, but that was it. They were all excited to come back and take a chance on this movie.
Question 7: You mentioned earlier that when you’re writing the script, you have the cast voice in your head when you write. But the reality is you have to cast two very important characters into this for the sequel. How was the process like?
“Well, Rick Dicker there were health problems with the guy who did the original Rick Dicker. So, he wasn’t in a position to match what he’d done before. And since then he’s no longer with us. And so, that was a challenge, but you go through your thing. We tried recording him, and it didn’t quite work yet. And then we tried to find people that sounded like that guy, and no one sounded like that guy.
And so, then we took the approach of saying, if that guy didn’t exist and we were casting this character from scratch, who would be the actor that we would approach. And we found Jonathan Banks. A lot of the Breaking Bad fans and Better Call Saul fans know him. And he’s a wonderful actor. And he dropped in beautifully. And his Rick Dicker is not exactly the same as Bud’s, but it’s every bit as cool.And maybe a little tougher edged.
And in the case of Huck Milner, who does Dash, we always knew that in any sequel we were not gonna be able to have Dash, because you just don’t retain that voice. You know, it’s a ten-year-old voice. And that voice is really only there for a couple of years. So, we always knew that we would have to recast Dash, and we got just extraordinarily lucky. We went back to New York where we found the first Dash, whose name was Spencer Fox.
And we got lucky with Huck. He just sorta sounded right, but his personality was muted. I just had a feeling that he would be right. And once he got the part, he just let it out and it happened to be totally right. And he was the same kind of energy that Spencer had. And it was like fasten your seatbelts. You know, we’re gonna record Dash today.”-Nicole Grindle
Question 8: I have a question for each of you. I’d love to hear if you have any favorite part, a favorite scene or a character, and why?
Nicole said her favorite character was Voyd, who is new to the Incredibles. She is played by Sophia Bush. She loved her as a character who sees Helen as a mentor. She loves her character and her superheros.
John told us since he is a new grandfather, he would need to say Jack-Jack. He loves all of the Jack-Jack scenes and how Bob has to try to deal with this, crazy baby. His favorite part are the Jack-Jack scenes, especially the raccoon fight.
Brad told us he loves all the action scenes. He told us that he enjoys putting Helen through action scenes just because her power’s uniquely suited to a certain approach to action scenes, which is fun. He also loved dealing with Bob kind of having his self-esteem undercut a little bit by not being the first choice, which he’s never dealt with in his life before.He also loved writing Violet, because she’s the permanent, cynical teenager who’s always looking for the power structure to be upended. He told us he loves Sarah Vowell as a person becasuse she just cracks him up and she’s so smart and funny. He also loves chase scenes with Dash and the scenes with Frozone.
“ I’ve only made six movies, and the most fun I’ve ever made making a movie was the first Incredibles. And so, to be able to return to this world was really fun for me.”- Brad Bird
Question 9: Was it an easy decision to pick up where the first movie left off, or were there ever any conversations around what the characters would look like?
“I had a half thought about aging them up a little, but the minute you do you lose a lot of the iconic power of the idea. And because we’re not limited to linear aging the way live action films are, where if an actor is ten years older, you better write a line in there where they talk about being ten years older. The audience is not goning to go for it. But we are not limited in that way. As long as your voice hasn’t changed much, we can pick it up where the last movie left off.
So, for me, the boldest thing a movie that’s taken 14 years to happen can do is pick up right where the last movie left off. Who else can do that? No one. So we did it.”- Brad Bird
Incredibles 2 opens June 15th so get your tickets today!