Something incredible happened! Last weekend we spent an unbelievable day with the Incredibles 2 cast including Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, Sarah Vowell, Writer-director Brad Bird, Sophia Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Producer Nicole Grindle, the new Dash – Huck Milner, Catherine Keener, Bob Odenkirk, and producer John Walker. While the entire cast had nothing but incredible things to say about working on this, well, incredible film, it was getting to listen to Writer-director Brad Bird gush about his love of animation, just as a proud parent would do about their accomplished child, the secret behind the Incredibles 2 nod to Jonny Quest and The Outer Limits, and why he created this film for adults just as much as he did kids.
Behind the Incredibles 2 Nod to Jonny Quest, The Outer Limits
Q: Brad. In the film, when Jack-Jack is watching the TV, that's clearly a cartoon that you guys created. But later in the film, you used footage from Outer Limits and Jonny Quest. What was the thought behind that?
Brad Bird: One of my personal rules in an animated film is that if they're watching something on TV, it should be animated. So the soundtrack of the old movie is an actual soundtrack from an old movie that we found that was perfect, and we animated to it. Jonny Quest is an animated show, so it fit into the universe, and it's the style of the film. It's that kind of action-adventure style from the early 60s. Outer Limits, we only used the beginning of it because it's still abstract. It's still lines and things. It's not visual photographs. That part fit really well with the Screenslaver thing because they're talking about taking control of your TV. I just remember when I was a kid, that scared the crap out of me. That the TV once a week was being controlled by who? Aliens? But I couldn't leave the room. But I would just be hiding from the TV because it was being taken over. We control the vertical. We control the horizontal. And I'm like they control the horizontal.
I love Jonny Quest. A lot of people don't remember that it wasn't made for Saturday morning. It was made for prime time. It came on at night. Adults watched it and people died in it. It had everything an eight-year wants in entertainment. It has mummies. It has pterodactyls and guns. A kid from another country who can levitate things. A bodyguard who has a fling with a girl that might be dangerous, and lasers, and hydrofoils, and jetpacks, and reptiles, and robot spies, and I just about exploded when I saw the opening titles to it. So we just had to give Jonny Quest a shout out. Had to.
Q: Brad, I wanted to talk about how, when you see an animated movie or if you're doing PR for an animated film, it's okay, yeah, I'll take the kids. But I feel like the first movie, and especially the second one, it's just a great movie. Like you don't need to take the kids. It's just great for like grown-ups.
Brad Bird: Yeah. Kids are strangely treated like beards for animated films. I'm a single guy, but I want to see this. I found a kid. Can I come in now? Here is this kid. He was roaming the streets. I told him I would pay for his ticket. Will you let me in? And it's like, no man.
It's like for anyone that likes movies, and you don't need to have a kid. People are constantly coming up to me. My kid really enjoyed it. I go, did you like it? They go oh yeah, sure. But Billy really liked it. And I'm like, I made it for you, and Billy can come. I'm not a kid, and I made it something that I would want to see.
Incredibles 2 opens in theaters this Friday, and with a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, you won't want to miss this film. Check out more behind the scenes conversations from the Incredibles 2 cast interviews below.
Incredibles 2 Cast Interviews
Q: I re-watched the first movie on Monday night just to refresh and recharge. When I saw the movie on Tuesday it was like not a second goes by between the two films. What was behind the decision to pick it up right away instead of having like an older Violet, an older Dash, an older Jack-Jack.
Brad Bird: I just thought it was kind of bold and weird. Because I think people take the time that passes very literally, and they think that linearly, the characters should have aged. But if they age, their superpowers don't reflect the part of life that they're in and their role in the family. So I worked on the first eight seasons of the Simpsons and the Simpsons haven't aged a day and they're still on the air. So it worked for them. And why not us?
Q: Nicole and John, there has obviously been a big leap in technology since the first movie. How did you really take advantage of those advancements and improvements to make Incredibles 2 really pop on the screen?
Nicole Grindle: Honestly, the technology has allowed us to make the film look more like what Brad intended it to look like the first time. The characters are much more finely nuanced and developed. We were able to build a lot more sets more quickly. We've populated the world with a lot more characters that have hair and clothing. That's stuff that most of y'all don't notice, but actually, that makes the world feel richer and more alive. Not to mention all the other visual effects stuff. We've also got a lot of artists who have had 14 years to get better at their craft. A lot of artists who were some of the kids when the first film came out, and it's a dream come true for them to work on this film.
Q: Huck, when did you see the first movie for the first time and how did it come about that you were going to be a part of Incredibles 2?
Huck Milner: I saw the first movie when I was like five or something. My dad showed me it because he really loved the first one. I really loved it, too, and my favorite character was Dash probably.
When I got the audition, I was watching the movie over and over again and when my mom got sick of watching it, I used the audition as an excuse to watch it again.
Q: A lot of people I'm sure have noticed, and certainly it's getting picked up a lot, is the role reversal with this movie between Elastigirl and Mr. Incredible. Violet really steps up. Holly, what was your first take when you first read the screenplay, however long ago that was and saw that role reversal?
Holly Hunter: It was a while before I truly realized what I was really going to get to do in the movie, and I was really thrilled. But it was like a retroactive thrill because over a period of months before I started gleefully singing during our recording sessions about how great my part was. I don't think that this is a message movie in any way. I think it's purely the luck of the draw that this happens to be dovetailing with me, too, and times up. It happens to be serendipitously reflected in this particular movie, but at the same time, it's character revelation period. Everybody is having revelations including Jack-Jack. All the characters are revelations to the audience and to themselves.
Q: Craig, what's your take on that, too?
Craig T. Nelson: We argued about it, and then I found out that I'm going to be helping save the family and Bob is going to learn how to be a dad and he's going to learn about these kids. Then the process started when we were recording. It was just so much fun. The stuff I did with Violet and the two of us together and Jack-Jack and that whole discovery. And then Dash. Having to deal with Elastigirl out there doing what I want to do and being able to give her the encouragement and let her know that everything is okay. It was just a lot of fun. I'm so honored to be a part of it. To be doing this.
Q: Sophia, I know you're not only a big fan of the first movie. You're a big Pixar fan, too. So what blew you away in terms of working with the Pixar team, working with Brad, working with the other filmmakers?
Sophia Bush: One of the things that I think is so cool about the whole thing is the layering of all the technology that makes these films look to all of us the way they look in Brad's head. It's wild to see the early stages of animation and to watch some of the scenes and then see what they become in the final edit. It's also totally nuts to go into the studio. I know that technically I'm talking to Holly, but she's not there. It's like me and Brad. And I'm just yelling into a void going am I doing this right?
Q: Catherine, working on the film and over the years or the extended period of time that you were voicing the character and then seeing the movie with the cast, with the crew, with the filmmakers on the big screen. What was that like for you to see the finished product for the first time?
Catherine Keener: It was very thrilling and fun. I just wanted to go back to a couple of things. First, I'm just getting to know all these people. Sarah and I have been friends for a long time. 15, 14 years, whatever. I've known Holly. I've known you. You guys. But I'm realizing that Brad kind of mined a lot of the inside of these people in the characters. And like Craig was talking about, I was just talking to him about his kids, and he's a big mush dad, granddad, and you can see that. All of these people are awesome. I would see any movie where Holly is a badass regardless of gender. I've done press with this man. I know he's done roles where he's played maybe not so likable a guy. Is that right? But he actually is very, very sweet and his character has that, too. So I just appreciate how insightful you are, even though you're incredibly weird in a way. In the best way.
Q: Bob, what are your thoughts on the finished film?
Bob Odenkirk: It was super fun to see it. I loved it. I've been knocked out by the visuals in this film, and I've only seen the little moments from it in the course of recording this. So to see it in the big beautiful color on the giant screen, I knew it was going to be amazing. It's beyond all expectations. I feel like somehow there's new technology that you're not telling us about, but because it's got such richness and depth, that was a great treat.
But again, like everyone else, I didn't read the whole script. There is never a whole script that you can read. So it's the first time I get to see the whole story. I'm once again amazed at Brad Bird's talent as a writer and director and orchestrator of story. There's like five movies in this movie and they all work together to throw each other into relief and make each other better. It was a hell of an experience and everyone in my family, including nieces and nephew, young, my son and daughter, older, teenagers. Everyone related to, they enjoyed the whole story, and everyone related to different characters and themes because there are so many and they're delivered on so well.
Q: Jack-Jack turned out to be one of my favorite characters, probably because of his partnership with the Raccoon. I just wanted to know, where did that come from? How did you guys decide to give Jack-Jack an animal villain?
Brad Bird: That was one of our key artists on the first film who helped to sign the characters, Teddy Newton. He had this idea back on the original film where he had a gang of raccoons that Jack-Jack kind of confronts. The raccoons come up and shove Jack-Jack in his original drawings. It went a lot darker believe it or not. They fought and went to the bottom of the pool and all this stuff. The idea always just killed me because raccoons look vaguely like robbers. Teddy did a drawing where he's watching an old movie like is in the film and he sees a classic robber with a mask and then he looks out in the yard and something is stealing from him, a robber is stealing from his family. It doesn't matter that it's garbage. Jack-Jack doesn't know that. He just knows that he's being robbed and he must do something about it. I loved that. It was so visual and clear. It was such an off the wall idea that that was one of the things that I couldn't wait to do if we got another Incredibles going.
Q: For Holly, Craig, or Sam, ever since the first movie came out, do you have kids come up to you, recognize your voice, associate you with this movie particularly?
Samuel L. Jackson: Kids don't do that. Their parents do, and they try to make the kid know who you are. That's Frozone, honey. He's looking at you like, you don't have a blue suit on. You're not making ice stuff. So, nah. Where is my super suit, honey? Oh. What is this? And they have to give him a catchphrase. They don't know who we are from Adam. Now as they got older, like the kids that are going to be now, the kids were four and saw the movie and now are 18. So they've been waiting. They're knocking little kids over to get in line. My daughter is 35. She's knocking big kids over to get in.
It's been 14 years, I don't remember what I said in the first one. I mean, okay. How about this? It's show time. Lift my car up. Hold the kid.
Incredibles 2 Photo Gallery
About Incredibles 2
In “Incredibles 2,” Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is called on to lead a campaign to bring Supers back, while Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) navigates the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell), Dash (voice of Huck Milner) 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 (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) by their side. That’s what makes this family so Incredible. Written and directed by Brad Bird (“Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille”) and produced by John Walker (“The Incredibles,” “Tomorrowland”) and Nicole Grindle (“Sanjay’s Super Team” short, “Toy Story 3” associate producer), Disney•Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” busts into theaters on June 15, 2018.