Pixar movies have gone to some interesting places since Toy Story first bowed in Andy’s room in 1995. From A Bug’s Life’s lush micro-world in an otherwise scrubby lawn to the big wide ocean in Finding Nemo and an enormous ship in the vast reaches of outer space
in WALL-E, Pixar has never been afraid to put its characters – and by extension all of us – into breathtakingly stunning and contextually relevant environments.
The studio’s next major release, Inside Out, set for release June 19, 2015, turns context on its ear as it eschews deep space and other broadly-viewed landscapes for the most inward-looking space of all. The film takes place inside the head of a little girl named Riley Anderson as she wrestles with the conflicting emotions – joy, anger, disgust, fear, and sadness – that bubble to the surface when her dad’s new job uproots her from her home in Minnesota and into a new life in San Francisco. The emotions live in Headquarters, a control center of sorts inside her mind, and they don’t always agree which one should prevail.
Inside Out’s staging is a gutsy move, even for an animation studio long known for marching to the beat of its own creative drummer. Unlike movies like Up, Ratatouille and The Incredibles, which offered up familiar touchstones like a cozy home, a restaurant kitchen and a typical urban/suburban environment, the inside of an 11-year-old girl’s head doesn’t naturally serve up relatable context for the average viewer. Unless you’re a neurologist, chances are fairly decent that you haven’t encountered the intricate structures of the brain in your day-to-day routine.
Director Pete Docter told The Hollywood Reporter that the story was “one of the most challenging I’ve ever had to put together,” because it has to reflect what’s happening to her externally as well as what’s going on inside her head. “The characters are created with this energy because we are trying to represent what emotions would look like. They are made up of particles that actually move. Instead of being skin and solid, it is a massive collection of energy.”
All of which gives the top-shelf voice cast that much more room to explore this one-of-a-kind creative space. Some of Inside Out’s key cast members include:
Kaitlyn Dias as Riley Anderson
The 15-year-old American actor has been seen in the Karl Ford short, Burial, as well as 2013’s The Shifting and even a Clorox 2 commercial. But Riley is easily her biggest role to-date.
Amy Poehler as Joy
The former co-anchor of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update and current star of Parks and Recreation is no stranger to voice over work. She’s contributed her voice to a diverse range of productions, including Hulu’s The Awesomes (Jaclyn Stone), two Alvin and the Chipmunks sequels – The Squeakquel, and Chipwrecked – as Eleanor, Monsters vs. Aliens (the computer), Shrek the Third (Snow White), and even two episodes of The Simpsons, as Jenda.
Bill Hader as Fear
The SNL alum has made a name for himself in animation, most notably as the voice of Flint Lockwood in the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs films, one of the chat room voices in Her, Guy Gagne, the protagonist in Turbo, and the just-announced Angry Birds film project. His voice career has crossed paths with Ms. Poehler’s, with roles in The Awesomes and The Simpsons. Inside Out isn’t his only Pixar project, either: He voiced Slug in Monsters University, and has been cast in The Good Dinosaur, as Forrest.
Lewis Black as Anger
Best known as an angst-ridden comedian who has headlined at some of the largest comedy festivals in the world, including Montreal’s Just for Laughs, his epic rants on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart have opened his work up to an even wider audience. The actor, producer and playwright has extensive voice experience, including work on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated TV series and the Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law series and video game.
Mindy Kaling as Disgust
Kaling started out as the first female writer for the critically acclaimed series, The Office, before hitting it big on in front of the camera playing Kelly Kapoor. She then solidified her reputation as an actor, writer and producer with her eponymous The Mindy Project, now in its third season. Her voice credits include Wreck-It Ralph (Taffyta Muttonfudge) and Despicable Me (Tourist Mom).
Phyllis Smith as Sadness
Smith is in familiar territory with her castmates, as she played Phyllis Vance-Lapin on The Office opposite Kaling, and a flight attendant on Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked with Poehler. While this is her first voice credit, her portfolio includes such diverse on-camera roles as Mrs. Steinberg in The Trophy Wife and Lynn Davies in Cameron Diaz’s Bad Teacher.
While Pixar’s perennial go-to guy hasn’t yet been cast into a specific role, expect his streak of contributing his voice to every major Pixar project to continue.
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