Posted on Friday, June 19th, 2015 by Germain Lussier
Bill Hader has yet to make a bad move. After crushing Saturday Night Live for years, he started with small parts in memorable movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Superbad, Tropic Thunder and Men in Black 3. He graduated to lead voice work with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, then went against type in the dramatic The Skeleton Twins. Later this summer, gets his first romantic lead in Trainwreck. He’s also both a credited writer and voice in Pixar’s Inside Out, his second film with the studio and will follow that up with some more voice work and a role in Steven Spielberg’s The BFG. Not a bad run.
In Inside Out, Hader plays Fear, one of Riley’s five emotions that helps her get through the day. Earlier versions of the film had Fear as one of the two leads, but that didn’t end up happening. We asked Hader about that change, how he picks projects, working with Spielberg as well as the place he thinks Pixar holds in film history. Read our full Bill Hader Inside Out interview below.
You’re a huge movie fan. You follow film and film history. What do you think Pixar’s role is in film history and what is it like to work for them?
Oh my God. Well, I mean, just on the one level it’s the closest thing to Walt Disney where Cinderella came out and people went “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” And Pixar did that with Toy Story 20 years ago. People had never seen anything like it. What it did to the industry is, I mean, you see it now. How many 3D CG animated movies do you see now? It all started with Toy Story. So anytime someone does anything that you see everybody jump on that bandwagon.
It’s like when Star Wars came out and then you had Ice Pirates and everything took place in outer space. It just was that thing. That’s Pixar. They did it better than anybody. I feel like they did it so well because they cared about story. Especially someone like Pete Docter. He works from such an intuitive place. He’s such a sweet guy. But he’s totally intuitive. And he’s very curious. Incredibly modest. And just wants to understand, it’s like a form of self expression.
Do you think they know sort of how important what they’re doing and what they did is? As somebody who’s been up there now and worked on two movies?
I think they understand in the bigger scheme of things that people are looking at them. Saying an A minus is bad, you know? It’s like they’ve set the bar so high for themselves that they have to keep fighting. But no. The nice thing about everybody up there is they really act like it’s a big privilege to be doing a movie. They all are like students. They just have this attitude of “I don’t know why that worked” or “I don’t know why that didn’t work” or “Let’s figure out why that didn’t work.” They just don’t know. You know what I mean? We’re watching an interview with Conrad Hall and Visions of Light, do you remember that documentary?
And Conrad Hall is talking about a scene in In Cold Blood where the reflection of the water is going down Robert Blake’s face before his character is about to be executed. And everybody says “Well how did you do that?” And he was like “I don’t know. It just happened. I don’t know.” You know what I mean?
People think I’m some genius. Like I don’t know. And Pete, there’s things that I’ve made and or been a part of and people go “Did you know?” And you go, “No, you never know.” One day is the best thing ever and the next day it’s the worst thing ever and you have no idea. You just have to keep moving forward. And you just don’t know until it comes out. And then people will tell you what they think.
And you’ve been part of this project for a long time. Were you there when Fear and Joy were the two leads?
Yeah, that was the way it was first pitched to me was Fear and Joy, yeah.
So what was that movie like compared to this one? And was it tough to sort of go from a lead character to secondary one?
No, not at all. It was better for the movie. It made more sense to be honest, ’cause Joy and Sadness are more polar opposite. And they were more interesting to go on the journey together ’cause the movie can’t be, “You can have Joy in your life, but you also need to have some Fear in your life.” You know what I mean? Sadness and Joy go hand in hand. I don’t think Joy and Fear go hand in hand. Joy and Sadness have to work together. Where Fear and Disgust and Anger are kind of these other emotions that really rule you when you’re an adolescent. So no, I didn’t think twice about [the change]. When they pitched it as Sadness and I went “Oh that’s great. That makes so much more sense.”. And yeah, no, it was great.