‘Soul’ Director Pete Docter On Pixar’s Latest & A Potential ‘Inside Out’ Sequel

Soul director Pete Docter opened up on the new film and revealed if he’d ever do a sequel to Inside Out.

Soul is speeding its way to Disney Plus for Christmas Day and Pixar fans around the world are in for a treat. Just in time for the films release, we got the chance to chat with the creators of the film and they revealed some interesting new details. While speaking with Soul director Pete Docter, writer Kemp Powers and producer Dana Murray, Docter also revealed if he would ever do an Inside Out sequel. Here’s our full chat with all three:

Heroic Hollywood: I really enjoyed the film. I loved it. And I love how you guys handled finding your spark and the message that is sent by the end of the film that living life and enjoying is what your purpose should be.

Pete Docter: Thanks. It’s good to hear you got it.

Heroic Hollywood: I just wanted to ask, what sparked the idea to create something this deep in a Pixar film? I know that Pixar films have handled deep subjects like this before, but what sparked this idea?

Pete Docter: Well, I guess it started with me following Inside Out, and just trying to figure out ‘okay, I’m getting older, I don’t know how many more of these I have in me.’ And is this really what it… It’s a haul, doing these things takes four or five years and is this the best use of my time? And so I know that’s a big pompously self-important question potentially, but we tried to make it as specific as possible and as entertaining as possible. We were trying to find a character that, as Kemp says, it’s like the artist’s journey. Somebody who has this passion and a drive to do something, and then purposely unseat that at the end and really question it.

Heroic Hollywood: Pixar movies are generally targeted at children and maybe a few adults. How do you think that kids will react to such complex themes?

Pete Docter: Well, it’s interesting you say that, because we don’t think of it that way. We basically target the films to us, making stories and themes that are compelling. As I say, if these take five years that they’d better be something that I’m going to look forward to ruminating on. And Dana has kids, I have kids, Kemp has kids. We all think about how kids are going to take stuff, but kids are pretty smart.

Kemp Powers: Yeah. One of the things I love about Pixar is that it’s one of the few places that treats kids with respect and doesn’t dumb things down for them. A lot of these… It’s funny that when we poll adults after they’ve seen the movie, how many times they say they really love it, but they worry that their kid isn’t going to be able to understand it. When their kid interrupts the parent and explains in vivid detail… so, it always proves that kids deserve to… It’s almost like we forgot what we were like when we were kids and how inquisitive and how we were sponges and all the complex ideas we understood when we were young, but it’s funny how things go.

Heroic Hollywood: Joe Gardner is an amazing musician and pianist. Did you guys always intend on casting someone as multi-talented as Jamie Foxx?

Dana Murray: Well, I think we just realized as soon as we were developing Joe as a character and who we wanted him to be. As soon as you think of Jamie Foxx, it’s like he’s so multi-talented, and being a comedian and an amazing dramatic actor, and we found out he was a musician, a pianist in his own right. So it just felt like the perfect fit. And then we were able to call him one day, just to see if he’d be interested. And he was really excited from the get go about the idea. So it just felt like the perfect match.

Pete Docter: We met him at some hotel somewhere and we just read through the whole script. Our hope was, and this happened, that when you work with somebody, you learn from what their strengths are, how they speak, their cadence, the rhythm. And we walked away going, ‘okay, this is going to work.’

Kemp Powers: It was funny. I did a little interview with Jamie for Spotify a few days ago, and he was actually nervous the first few days in the booth with us. He was like, ‘no man, you guys know exactly what you want.’ We would be like, ‘actually, could you just do this?’ This kind of made him worried the first few sessions. He was like, ‘am I missing up?’ No, it’s good to hear your natural voice.

Dana Murray: You would never get that from him.

Pete Docter: No, he’s so confident. That’s wild.

Heroic Hollywood: Soul kind of tackles the same themes as Inside Out. Was there at any point in development that it could have been a sequel to Inside Out?

Pete Docter: No. No. Once a movie is done I’m like, all right, put that away. Let’s do something new. And that was actually a concern at the beginning, is this too similar? There’s a lot of same themes of, ‘what makes us who we are,’ this sort of personality thing. But, obviously it’s quite different as it turned out.

Heroic Hollywood: Would you ever consider doing a direct sequel to Inside Out? Or do you think that story’s finished?

Pete Docter: Well, you never know. There’s a lot of stuff that we left unexplored. That’s a really rich world. It depends on whether we find something that feels compelling and engaging.

Kemp Powers: But don’t expect Pete to be the one to do it.

Pete Docter: Well, probably be true.

Kemp Powers: No, Pete doesn’t go back to his wells, not directly. Pete didn’t do Monsters University.

Pete Docter: As long as they let me get away with that, I’m happy. You know, people ask you, what’s your favorite film? And I’m always like, the next one. The one I’m working on. Because that’s the exciting part, is all the pain and suffering.

Dana Murray: So which one is that Pete?

Pete Docter: Well…

Heroic Hollywood: Okay. So by the end of the movie, and this is kind of a spoiler… Joe gets a new lease on life and 22 gets her ticket to Earth. Do you think that Joe and 22 will ever meet again or is that the end of their story?

Pete Docter: You know, it’s funny, we boarded a bunch of stuff because a lot of folks on the crew and in Pixar asked the same question, but every time we tried to answer it, it ended up feeling really unsatisfying. And I think it’s a perfect case of, what you create in your mind is going to be more intriguing and interesting than anything we try to give you.

Kemp Powers: Yeah it’s like when the magician shows you how to do a magic trick and it’s inevitably disappointing.

Pete Docter: You just hide it in your hand, what?

Kemp Powers: … It’s like, no, let’s let people fill in that part of the journey.

Dana Murray: And they do, and they argue about it. Half of our audience preview people were like, ‘well, this is what happened, right?’ Someone else would be like, ‘no, no, no, this is what happened.’ Everyone does come up with their ending.

Pete Docter: Yeah. Pretty cool.

Heroic Hollywood: When Joe went into the cat, did the cat have a soul?

Pete Docter: Yeah, we were thinking the cat has nine souls. So the one gets punted out, and then when Joe leaves, there’s another one to fill in.

Dana Murray:  It just made us laugh.

Kemp Powers: Another thing we did board but we didn’t end up using was showing how the cat got back into its body and what it was doing the whole time.

Heroic Hollywood: Now that Joe has this new lease on life and everything, do you think that he’s going to choose the teaching job or will he go back to continue working with Dorothea Williams?

Pete Docter: I don’t know. What do you think? He’s going to live every minute of it though. Yeah, that was part of the fun, as Dana said, we had an audience preview and half the audience is like, ‘so now that he’s a teacher and the other guy’s on the other side… ‘We were like, ‘no, no, he’s a performer.’ So it was fun to just see how people project their own thoughts on it.

Dana Murray: I think you can do both.

Pete Docter: It’s true. We’ve met a lot of folks who do.

What do you think of Pete Docter’s comments? Could we see a sequel to Inside Out? Are you excited to see Soul? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Here is the synopsis for Disney and Pixar’s Soul:

What is it that makes you…YOU? This November, Pixar Animation Studios’ all-new feature film “Soul” introduces Joe Gardner (voice of Jamie Foxx) – a middle-school band teacher who gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks and interests before they go to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22 (voice of Tina Fey), who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As Joe desperately tries to show 22 what’s great about living, he may just discover the answers to some of life’s most important questions.

Directed by Peter Docter and Kemp Powers, Soul stars Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Questlove, Phylicia Rashad, Daveed Diggs, and Angela Bassett.

Soul will be released December 25 on Disney Plus. Stay tuned to Heroic Hollywood for all the latest news surrounding Disney’s upcoming slate and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube for exclusive video content.

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