One of my favorite meetings from my visit to Pixar Animation Studios, was chatting with Incredibles 2 Director Brad Bird as well as Producers Nicole Grindle and John Walker. I always enjoy hearing about the making of and behind the scenes information when it comes to movies, which made this trip was so special to me. In this interview we talked a lot about the time gap between The Incredibles and Incredibles 2 and what it meant for the film. Not only in regards to the plot, but in regards to constantly evolving technology and so much more.
The Long Wait
There is such a large gap between The Incredibles and Incredibles 2, so this is a film I have been waiting a long time for. Someone asked Brad why it took so long for this movie to come about and he let us know that it was totally intentional to make us wait.
“For me it was not intentional. I don’t think it’s the greatest idea creatively to follow-up a successful film with its sequel. I think that you wanna take time. You wanna think about it. You wanna 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. The more I chewed on it, the more I thought, yeah, oh, yeah, that’ll be cool. Then suddenly it was 15 years later or something and I went, holy crap, I better get goin’ on somethin’. It probably would’ve been smarter if it were a cash grab to do it a lot sooner. I just was mulling on it and it finally seemed like the right thing to do.“
Getting Back to These Characters
Brad hinted that he had been thinking about what the Incredibles 2 story line would be basically since the first one came out. We asked him if it was easy for him to get back in to the mind frame of these characters. His response? Easy as pie.
“It seems like outwardly it’s a really commercial movie, but it’s actually strangely personal to me. It has a lot of the things that I loved at the age of ten, which a lot of them I still love – I hate to admit – and combined with the family that I grew up with and the family that I have with my wife and sons. So, it’s all the stuff I love combined with both families that I’ve had in my life. For me, even though it seems brightly colored and pop confection, it’s actually really personal to me. I like those characters and they’re comfortable to me, and I have fun hearing them talk. 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, and 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. It’s really hard. The character part is fun. The plot part is painful.“
Personally, I am really excited to see what Brad and the whole Pixar team came up with. The Incredibles is one of my favorite movies and from what I have seen of Incredibles 2 already, this might top it!
Something we heard over and over throughout our time at Pixar was that there were more things they could do with Incredibles 2 than The Incredibles because of evolving technology. In fact, several times we heard Brad wanted to do XYZ in the original but we couldn’t because the technology wasn’t there, but it is now. We asked Brad about this and he had a lot to say on the subject.
“Pixar kinda invented the feature computer animation thing and, for a while, 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 or underwater – and with us on [The Incredibles], it was the first film that featured all humans. Now the medium 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. The medium has improved so much that you can do good fire now. You can do good water. You can do good hair.“
Pixar’s Talented Artists
John Walker had his own thoughts on the constantly changing technology, and something else that made a big difference in the second film.
“People talk about technology, and the technology’s definitely improved and that makes a big difference, but the level of artistry and competence of the people that work here is just off the charts. It’s stunning to watch. It’s completely different from when we were here before. Everybody was great before, but they’ve worked together for 15, 20, 30 years. New talent as well. It used to be that an animator would bring something in – or any kind of artist would bring something in. Brad would have notes. They’d go back and attempt to address those notes and they’d come back. If it wasn’t quite there, they’d go off again and come back and go off and come back. It was this circular process. And this time the stuff comes in the first time and it’s like, oh, my God, that’s great. Whatever notes he has, they hit right away.”
The Cutting Edge
Nicole also weighed in on the changes that we have seen in this industry from the first Incredibles film to the second.
“My first feature here was A Bug’s Life. I actually started working on some story CD-ROMS when I first came in ’95. So, I’ve had the benefit of watching this evolution. I should say our Supervising Technical Director, Rick Sayre, is one of the founding technical people at the company and has continued to stay on the cutting edge. So, it’s a combination of the technology has developed. We’ve had new talent come in, and some of the original genius talent has remained and continued to push us further and further.“
Getting the Cast Back Together
There was such a long gap in between the first Incredibles movie and this sequel that we were all curious how the cast reacted getting the news that Incredibles 2 would be made.
“[Craig T. Nelson and Holly Hunter] were happy [to get the call]. I think there’s a certain amount of trust on the film. They didn’t really ever see the whole script. They only saw the parts that they did, so they were taking a wild bet. And now they know what it is. They know who their character is, what the characters look like, how the animators respond to what they did vocally. They were all like the band’s back together. It was really fun. Sarah [Vowell] was really funny, because she said, I think I have three more years before I can’t play a teenager anymore. And Sam [Jackson] was talking about us like we were in production before we’d even attempted to make the film. He was like, oh, sure, there’s gonna be an Incredibles 2. Of course. Then it’s like if Sam says we’re making a movie, I guess we better start making a movie.“
Recasting Rick Dicker & Dash
As you probably know, the voice of Dash had to be recast because of his aging, but you might not know that Rick Dicker was also recast.
“There were health problems with the guy who did the original Rick Dicker. He wasn’t in a position to match what he’d done before. And since then he’s no longer with us. We tried to find people that sounded like that guy, and no one sounded like that guy. 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. Avlot of us are Breaking Bad fans and Better Call Saul fans. And he’s a wonderful actor. 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.”
“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. It’s a ten-year-old voice and that voice is really only there for a couple of years. We always knew that we would have to recast Dash, and we got extraordinarily lucky. We went back to New York where we found the first Dash, whose name was Spencer Fox. Dash doesn’t have a New York accent or anything. It’s just that there’s something about the city – something that makes him move fast. We got lucky with Huck. He sounded right, but his personality was muted. I just had a feeling that he would be right. Once he got the part, he let it out, and it happened to be totally right. He was the same kind of energy that Spencer had. It was like fasten your seatbelts, we’re gonna record Dash today. He was so into it. We didn’t say what it was for, and when he found out it was Dash he came in one day actually wearing a Dash outfit. [He] was like zipping about the studio. I think he did a magnificent job.“
We asked all three of the filmmakers who their favorite characters were in Incredibles 2. Of course, that is a really hard question to answer, because usually they are attached to more than one of them, if not all of them. I loved Nicole Grindle’s answer because I learned a bit about a new character that I am looking forward to seeing.
“I haven’t thought about it, but the first thing that comes to mind is Voyd. She’s a new character played by Sophia Bush. And I love her as somebody who sees Helen as a mentor. She’s got this really great, fresh energy. I love her superpowers. So, that’s what comes to my mind.“
John Walker also let us know about his favorite.
“I’m a new grandfather. I have a one-year-old granddaughter, and my daughter came to me and said why didn’t you tell me it was so hard. I said, well, because then you never would’ve done it. So, I love all the Jack-Jack scenes and how Bob has to try to deal with this crazy baby, which is just a great metaphor for what my daughter and son-in-law have been going through the last year. My favorite part are the Jack-Jack scenes – especially the raccoon fight.“
Nicole then added to that.
“I’ve always felt that this was a representation of what we all feels as parents. You all go into it like, oh, it’s a little baby. How cute. How hard could that be? And then at every turn, they’re more and more difficult.”
When Brad answered, as can be expected he had a reason to love each and every character. I cannot say that I blame him, because I do too!
The Incredibles 2 Plot
As we know, Brad and the Incredibles 2 team had a while to think about the direction they wanted this sequel to go in. We asked him what his thought process was like in coming up with the plot line.
“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 [that]I had those ideas. What changed all the time was the superhero plot. And that changed radically. Because we had a little less time to do our film, if something didn’t pay off immediately, you had to abandon it. The release date was looming and you had to find stuff that works. It was this binary process – that was tough. The 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.“
I, for one, am really excited about the role switch between Bob and Helen. I think it is hilarious, and also pretty true to life sometimes. In this day and age, we see men staying home with the kids more and more, and the women going out in to the filed working. I love when a movie can touch on true life, and I can’t wait to see what happens.
About Incredibles 2
In Incredibles 2, Helen is called on to lead a campaign to bring Supers back, while Bob navigates the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life at home with Violet, Dash, and baby Jack-Jack—whose super powers are about to be discovered. Their mission is derailed, however, when a new villain emerges with a brilliant and dangerous plot that threatens everything. But the Parrs don’t shy away from a challenge, especially with Frozone by their side. That’s what makes this family so Incredible.
Incredibles 2 hits theaters June 15th!
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