Brad Bird Tomorrowland interview

A couple weeks back I got a chance to chat briefly with director Brad Bird and talk about his newest film Tomorrowland. I asked for an update on the long-rumored Iron Giant blu-ray release, what it means and doesn’t necessarily mean to be a live-action Disney film, the super slick modern look of Tomorrowland vs. the retro-futurism of ray-guns, how Space Mountain ended up in the movie, and Bird’s earliest memories of Disneyland.

We also talked about how the Space Shuttle Endeavor flying over the Disney Animation building had a huge impact on the film’s story, as well as my favorite sequence in the film (an amazing long “one shot” that lets us explore Tomorrowland for the first time), and I jokingly ask if Brad plans to reprise his role as Edna Mode in Incredibles 2. Read a transcript of my Brad Bird Tomorrowland interview, after the jump.

Brad Bird Tomorrowland

Brad Bird Tomorrowland Interview

Peter Sciretta: Before we begin, I have to ask you whats going on with the Iron Giant Blu-ray Release, I have heard we’re in for something really special…

Brad Bird: Warner Brothers I think were not ready to talk about it yet. But yeah, there’s some stuff happening, but I think it’s gonna be good.

I’m also a big Disneyland fanatic. So a movie like this is very exciting for me.

Oh cool.

Brad Bird Tomorrowland

I wanted to know, did…

Although I think people think it’s gonna take place more in Disneyland than it does. Actually none of it takes place in Disneyland. But there is a Disney feel to it or I don’t know.

There’s definitely a Disney feel. It almost feels like the live-action Disney films I grew up with. The tone and the feel of the film, I mean.

I feel like a lot of people misinterpret what the word Disney means. I mean I guess it can mean a lot of different things. But for me, it didn’t mean toothless storytelling. It meant, you know, films like Pinocchio when I was a kid scared the crap out of me. And Disney wasn’t afraid to be dark. And there’s darkness in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. And it’s a really great movie that holds up really well. And so this movie for me was a chance to do what I consider Disney to be in a weird sort of hopefully modern context. But yeah.

Tomorrowland

It’s interesting that your Tomorrowland looks very modern and very futuristic, but yet there’s retro-looking rayguns and the C.I.A. characters are kind of–

C.I.A.?

C.I.A. or whatever, I don’t wanna spoil it for people, the agent characters are…  a little off.

They were from the Agency.

So I’m wondering about the decision to go with an ultra-modern looking future instead of the retro future of the parks, but going retro with aspects like the rayguns?

Well when you’re pie in the skying it, you know, when you’re first talking about what it should be, it can be this vast ocean of possibilities. But as you start to define your story, which you ultimately have to ’cause it has to fit inside a two hour box and, you know, the amount of time and money you have allotted to it, it has to happen. So you start plucking away at it. And our concept initially was that like any big city, you have buildings from different periods.

And the idea initially, which I still like, but which we didn’t really have enough story to show off, was the idea that futurism from the ’20s looks different than futurism from the ’30s. But they both look like futurism. If you go to the end of the 19th Century and look at what they thought of as the future, it was filled with a lot of iron and airships that were like balloons. You know, but very elaborate balloons. And it was still fantastic and it still looked futuristic in its own way.

But I think our idea initially which we kind of touched on, but we didn’t have enough story real estate to get into was that there should be building co-existing from a variety of futures. And the ultimately the interesting thing is that it kind of is the present. If in other words the city that we represented in there is not necessarily the future, it’s what the present could be if a lot of roadblocks were taken out of the way.

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