When you spend a couple years doing this do you find yourself evolving in different relationship to your own emotions or sense of emotional maturity?

Pete Docter: Yeah it does.  It really does.  You’re right.  You start to kind of think of “okay why did that person actually do this?  They say they’re doing it for this reason, but what is it actually that’s driving them and they’re probably unaware of it” because a lot of us are.  There’s so many different layers to things that as soon as you become aware of something there’s yet another one below it.  So it’s definitely changed the way I look at people behaving, people’s behavior, my interactions with them.  I think I’m a little – I grew up in Minnesota where, like, the model is everybody’s nice and everything’s pleasant and you don’t say anything bad or negative, not that I’m looking for any negativity but I’m less sort of scared of some negative stuff happening.  Like if we get mad at each other that used to really kind of freak me out.  But now I recognize well that’s healthy.  It is what we do and it’s everybody defending their own sense of what’s fair and so on and so it’s really been helpful for me.

Jonas Rivera: And my sort of hook into it is I’m a nostalgist, I love things from the past.  And I’ve always felt like I could I’d go back in time.  There’s something about this movie and about memories and honoring that.  But you know, facing the fact that you can’t always be eight years old.  There’s something about going through the process of this movie that’s helped that.  Again, we don’t want to sound preachy at all, too message-y, but just going through it and spending that much time and literally just the time.  I mean Melissa my assistant like there’s a picture of her in front of one of these calendars and Pete holding the first calendar we made of the film and she’s pregnant and I have a picture of her, she did the voice for Joy, the scratch voice, and her holding her four-year-old daughter’s hand in front of the mic, of my God our lives had like – we had spent a huge part of our life on this thing.

[very slight possible spoilers follow in the rest of the conversation]

While Joy is the lead character, certainly in the first act, the film seems to really be about Joy and Sadness, and learning about who Sadness really is.

Pete Docter: To me, that’s the meat of it.  That’s the juice.  The first story session, we came up with that sort of theme, which I won’t get into because it’ll give some stuff away.  And we set out to make that and it really – we struggled with it.  And it wasn’t until the third screening in that we figured out the right way to unlock that message, but we knew that it was going to be important for the story from pretty much the beginning.

Jonas Rivera: We even tried pairing Joy up with someone like Fear, like what was the right kind of key emotion as you go through junior high? Coming back to Sadness felt a little more truthful.

Pete Docter: Because I think ultimately it’s something that we can all relate to.  We all want happiness in our life.  I mean there are so many books on like how to be happy and what you need for happiness and you want that for your kid too, you want your kid to be happy.  We literally tell our kids don’t be sad,

Jonas Rivera – we command them!

Pete Docter: And yet there is a real value to all the other emotions that is part of the richness of life and it’s not until you really recognize that I think you really have the ability to connect with the world in a deeper way.

Jonas Rivera: For me that was the simplified bullet point of what came out of all the research was just the simple fact that they have jobs, the reason you have each one.  If you buy that, they’re all trying to do a good job and they’re all kind of a little bit competitive, and they all secretly think they know what’s best, including Joy…. I loved the thing in the research, with Disgust, because Disgust felt a little abstract, she was a little harder to pinpoint. But no, there’s a physical reason, all the way back to Darwin, of that face that prevents you from being poisoned. You eat something, a baby will spit it out, and then that translates into, when you’re older, Disgust prevents you from being poisoned socially. So you don’t miss some social cue, and you go into, like I did, into the eighth-grade with my Star Wars men ready to play and guys are going “you still play with those?” I got teased, like, “shit, I missed that social cue!”  And so that was fascinating to think that’s a job, that’s an important job, and they’re all going to work really hard to do their job.

Pete Docter: And with Sadness specifically, in America you read about people medicating to avoid sadness.  They don’t want to experience Sadness and yet it’s such a vital part of being human.

Jonas Rivera: Yeah.  Physical pain – like I read this thing where a baseball player couldn’t swing the bat so he got cortizone shots in his elbow and he can swing the bat.  The sports doctor was like well you still feel the pain, or the pain is still there but you can’t feel it.  Like there’s a reason why you can’t swing the bat.

Pete Docter: It’s your body telling you relax.

Jonas Rivera: So now he’s approaching it sort of like how we treat Sadness.


Inside Out opens on June 19.

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