Mindy Kaling says she wept when she visited Pixar to discuss 'Inside Out'

Posted by · 8:00 am · May 18th, 2015

CANNES – “Inside Out” made a splash at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival on Monday morning earning thunderous applause after its first press screening and rave reviews including one from this particular pundit.

Pixar's first original movie since 2012, “Inside Out” introduces us to five key emotions living in the mind of Riley, an 11-year-old girl who has just moved to San Francisco with her parents. When two of the emotions, Joy and Sadness, are lost in the long term memory portion of her brain, Riley is thrown for a dramatic loop. The two lost emotions find themselves racing against the clock to get back to headquarters before it's too late.

Director Pete Docter, Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, producer John Rivera and vocal talent Amy Poehler (who plays Joy), Mindy Kaling (who plays Disgust) and Phyllis Smith (who plays Sadness) were just some of the participants during the film's official festival press conference. The session began with Poehler taking a question about the similarities between Joy and Leslie Knope who she played for seven seasons on “Parks and Recreation.”  

“Well, Joy in the film is kind of the motor and she kind of keeps things moving and that certainly is a similar to the character I played on ['Parks'],” Poehler said. “What was so nice about playing this character was that she, like all of the emotions, feels like she should really be the only one there. So it was fun to play with the dynamic of sadness, especially with the journey of Joy and everyone else realizing you are stronger as a team and need to work together. But yeah, I just basically do one character.”

Kaling, whose television show was just saved from cancellation by Hulu, was frank about how much the opportunity to participate in this particular movie meant to her.

“I'm not asked to do that many things,” she said. “I think I am very specific in how I look and talk and what I'm interested in. So I've resigned myself, slash known, that I'm going to be writing my own work, which is fine for me. I'm not an actress that goes on auditions that often.”

It was when she traveled to Pixar's headquarters in Emeryville, California to meet with Docter and his animators that the quality and opportunity the project offered really hit home.

“When I was asked to do this, the script was amazing,” she recalled. “I went up to Pixar and I cried. I was just in a meeting with these guys and they showed me the story and I started weeping. They weren't too scared off by that and let me continue to work with them, but this is amazing. I am so critical of things and to read something and have it be so fresh and not feel that there was this need to give it notes was just wonderful.”

Poehler appreciated that the Pixar team was so collaborative, noting, “Sometimes when you do voice over stuff you are in a booth. [For this project] we were all in the same room and I remember a day when Pete said, 'I think you're just gonna cry today, all day,' and I was like 'Yes!' And then I gave you guys $350.”

One member of the media asked Lasseter and Docter why “Inside Out” isn't in the festival's official competition. Both men refused to tip their hand as to whether it was a decision made by the studio or the festival only wanted the film for an out-of-competition slot. That didn't stop Poehler, who likely forgot a jury actually decides the awards, from campaigning for the Palme d'Or.

“I want to remind you you can vote for whoever you want,” she joked. “It's your vote!”

Not really, but in a perfect world, “Inside Out” and another out-of-competition film, “Mad Max: Fury Road,” would be up for a slew of jury awards. Thankfully, there's always Oscar.

“Inside Out” opens nationwide on June 19.

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