Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. Where did the voice of Edna come from?
A. We do temporary voices when we prepare the movie.
We do story boards, we do temporary soundtracks, we do bits of
music from other films with no intent to use them to get a sense
of the movie.
Pixar's a large enough company to actually cast within Pixar and
get in the ball park of every character in the film. So we do
that with the intention of replacing everybody with more qualified
people and every once in a while people like the voices that are
in the temp track.
Andrew Stanton, the writer-director of Finding
Nemo, did the voice of Crush, the surfer dude turtle.
When he did the temp track he was imagining that they would replace
himself with an actor and the people that he went to, people didn't
like as much as him, so that was not the intent for me to do the
voice. It just kind of stayed in there. But that wasn¹t my
Q. Was it easy to find the voice?
A. You know, when I was describing how I wanted her to
look I found myself kind of doing the voice to describe her. Here's
the thing: There's super-hero movies and they always have these
flamboyant costumes and they never explain who's making these.
Every once in a while they half-heartedly present a scene where
the muscle-bound here is sewing in the basement and I never really
bought it. 'Suddenly this guy's interested in fabric?'
So I thought that if you had a world populated by superheroes,
someone would be designing stuff for them, and she couldn't just
be a designer, she'd have to be half scientist.
When you get to thinking about it [it's like]: 'okay she's half-scientist,
half-designer, what background is she?'
So I thought, 'she's small and she's powerful and she's good at
design and also good at technology'. So I thought, what two small
countries are small and are great at design and great at technology
and are much bigger than the size of their countries and it's
Japan and Germany.
So I thought I'd make her half-Japanese, half-German and that's
kind of where the accent comes from.
I don't know if it's close to the actual reality of her or not,
but that's where she comes from.
Q. Edna is the look Edith Head meets Anna Wintor?
A. Eh, I've been talking about the film for about three
weeks now and these are two names that come up fairly regularly.
I also hear Patricia Highsmith and Linda Hunt and ba ba ba ba.
She's all of them I guess and none of them. Much like the movie
is a conglomeration of familiar elements. Every one says this
is just like this movie I saw called DA DA DA DA and I'll
go, 'oh that's intersting'.
And they'll say, 'You didn't do DA DA DA DA'. And I'll say, 'no,
I haven't seen DA DA DA DA'.
You know, it's a kind of a secret base on an Island, hey Jules
Verne has it in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Come on, it's a
secret base, the classic place to put it is.
It's like what are you gonna do with all this ice cream? You're
going to put it on a cone, you know.'
The movie is a blend of a lot of kinds of movies and TV shows
and comic books I like growing up.
Spy movies, action movies and superhero things combined with my
own feelings about the family I grew up in and the family I have
now with my wife and kids, so all of those things.
The characters are kind of types. But we usually begin with drawings
and we try to nail the drawings first and then we try to find
Q. Do the voices then influence other aspects of the
A. Sometimes people think they look more like the actor
than they do, just because the voice and the face tend to go well
together, which is the whole point.
Every once in a while, I'll use some element of the actor if it
strikes us as fun or useful.
Holly Hunter tends to talk a little bit off-centre and we used
that a little bit in the animation because in the sessions
we tape the sessions the animators like that idea of talking
off the centre of their mouth.
But other things they take from their aunt or the guy down the
street, or a guy they saw on TV this morning or a guy they played
ball with in High School.
They're mixing and matching from all kinds of different parts
of their life and putting them into the character. So that's only
Q. You're an outsider in Pixar but you go a long way
back with John Lasseter, tell us the story of how you brought
this idea to Pixar.
A. John and I had known each other for a while. We'd
both gone our separate ways after school and we both did stints
He went to Lucas film and I went to Spielberg. He worked at Pixar,
which was the computer graphics division of Lucas film.
Steven Spielberg gave me my first opportunity to write and direct
on his show, Amazing Stories, so I did Family Dog, which led me
to The Simpsons.
Anyway, we kind of went our separate ways and when I saw Toy Story,
I thought it was the greatest thing made since Walt Disney died
and I told him so and we were back in touch.
Ever since Bug's Life they started talking to me to see if I would
be interested in coming up there and when I finished Iron Giant
I had this idea and I pitched it to them and they went for it
so happy for me.
Q. In the credits the name Michael Bird pops up...
A. Yes, that's a son.
Q. Was that a bit of nepotism there?
A. Oh yeah. Well Jack-Jack is named after my middle son
when he was a baby. That's where I got the idea. We named him
Jack-Jack and I just liked the idea.
Sure, nepotism is alive and well. Michael did the voice of the
heart-throb guy at the end, the guy Violet likes. He was just
at the right age and had this awkward sound in his voice. I thought
I can exploit this [does mock evil laugh].
Q. The dry wit of the script seems very English?
A. That's purely DNA. Bird is an English name so it comes
Q. Did it evolve through the writing?
A. Well you know, when I get in a room with smart people
I tend to want to say that everything was purely intentional and
planned out and sound very deep. But the truth of the matter is
You're really just writing something that you'd want to see and
hope that other people will feel the same way.
There wasn't any conscious effort to go: 'I'm going to make them
do a dark film and they're not even going to know it'.
The goal was just to give thrills and chills and all that good
movie stuff that goes nicely with popcorn.
Q. There are quite a few
deaths in the film, was there any resistance to that, particularly
A. You know we had some discussions with Tom Schumacher,
who was the head of the animation division at the time, and he
left about a third of the way through production, but he said
we now see what the story reels are so it's time to talk.
We either have to tone this down so it's what everyone expects,
or holding hands and saying that we're doing something different
and it's a flat out adventure and we're going go for it.
So I went like this immediately [holds out his hands] and we all
held hands and said this is what we're going to do.
I like genuine jeopardy in movies. I think sometimes people are
so well-intentioned about protecting their children that they
create these shows that are designed around superheroes bashing
each other about for half and hour, but there's no consequences
The show's built around violence but no one ever gets injured.
No one ever dies. So to me that's a far worse message to give
a kid than to have a world where there's actual jeopardy and prices
I think there's no more traumatic movie to a kid than Bambi because
But, you know, I wouldn't change a frame of Bambi. And I think
the ultimate message of Bambi is that life goes on in spite of
great, terrible things happening. I like a bit of bite in story-telling.
Q. Would you like to make a James Bond movie?
A. Oh, yeah, but Sean Connery's too old. If I could go
back in time and have Sean Connery in mid-1960s ,I would do it
in a second. But to me he's Bond, just as Errol Flynn is Robin
Hood. Case closed.
Q. There are clearly some beautifuly observed nods to
A. Yeah, but again I was kind of going for a general
style. I think that Bond is the best of that style. But there
were a lot of films and TV shows from that era - Man From UNCLE,
The Secret Agent, Mission Impossible, In Like Flint, Matt Helm,
you know. There's a lot of stuff.
But Bond is probably one of the best examples of that style. And
there's a lot of musicians doing that style too - Lalo Schiffrin.
Even in comedies like the
Pink Panther there's a certain sweet, jazzy quality that just
felt right for the film. The composer, Michael Ciccino, was able
to recapture that style and still do something origninal. I love
Q. We sat through the credits and there was no end gag...
A. No that's it man. You didn't feel there was enough?
Q. You had the idea for the film 12 years ago. How close
do you reckon the finished article is?
A. It's very close in that it's the film I set out to
make. Any movie that you work on goes through various steps.
When you first have the idea you're just, it¹s the most fantastic
You can talk to people about it and have some beer and say it's
going to be this and it's going to change the way people think
about this and it's the most fantastic thing ever and everyone
will believe you, or think you're full of crap.
But you can fool yourself into thinking that you can do all these
things. And those things can remain as long as you don't define
But once you start writing it and putting words in characters'
mouths and deciding what the shots are and it has to be roughtly
two hours, all of that, you start throwing things away and the
film starts getting smaller and smaller and smaller and it's depressing
because for everything that you do there are five things that
you can't do because if you make one decision you have to support
that and go down that way.
Then, once you've just about given up all these goodies, the film
starts getting better because other people start getting involved;
things start getting fleshed out, you have visuals.
You have sets and the movie gets bigger and bigger and better
and better, so there's this whole process of letting go and rebuilding
that you go through.
Things did change. The villain is not the one I set out with,
but the movie is really what I set out to make.
Q. What was the original villian going to be like?
A. Well, it was one of those situations where there was
going to be a middle man who talked everybody into it and was
the mouth piece for this evil genius guys.
But when I got to Pixar I pitched the opening the way it is now,
with the superheroes young and at their best, and John said what
would happen if we began it with them underground and they're
normal people then we reveal them as having super powers.
I said that's not going to work because we're going to advertise
that they're superheros so they're going to be now surprise to
But I gave it a try. So I started with Violet as a baby and they
were just moving underground and having normal lives, and I needed
a threat to say that the old superhero life is following them
and endangering them.
So I created this character, Syndrome, and he invades the house
at the beginning and dies in the original sequence.
Everyone liked this guy better than the guy in the film, so I
gave him the backstory and jettisoned the other guy so I had a
Even though we reverted back to my original pitch, in terms of
story structure, we had this new villain who changed the course
of the film significantly.
Q. Brad are you frustrated actor?
A. I'm very frustrated, not sure about the actor part.
No, I'm not a frustrated actor. Here's the thing, I love the medium
of film because I love the arts and the more I work in one area,
the more I want to work in another art.
I start seeing things that are in common with other things. Certain
rules you see actually work with the other.
Repitiation and variation. Less is more. Small medium and large.
Those simple rules work whether you are designing graphics or
lining out a plot, or working on a picece of music. I like film
because it allows me to participate in all the arts under one
You know, I've got a bit of ham in me.