You know it’s going to be a good interview with Phyllis Smith and Richard Kind come in smiling and taking a picture of everyone in the room. So somewhere on Phyllis’ phone is my face!
Disclosure: Disney, Pixar, and Disney Junior have sponsored my travel, accommodations, most meals, and activities during this event. All opinions (and fun) in this article here are mine unless noted otherwise.
I’ll tell you one thing, it was incredibly surreal to talk to Phyllis and Richard because all you had to do was close your eyes and you could instantly see Sadness and Bing Bong in the room. Neither actor changed their voice for the roles so that was pretty cool to hear.
So with a character like Sadness, I’m sure you’d assume it’s hard to stay in character without becoming depressed yourself. As Richard Kind put it, “It’s such a touchy character because no one wants to be sad and yet we identify with you [Sadness],” he adds, “although it’s down in the dumps, it’s not depressive. It’s simply sad.”
Phyllis said, “I can honestly say I didn’t sit in my car and think of horrible things before I went in. I just tried to truthful to the scene that we were doing. And also Pete Docter is such a wonderful director.”
In the film, Sadness eventually brings Bing Bong back to his cheery disposition by letting him cry and exhaust his sadness in an almost therapeutic way. A good cry is good for the soul, I think. If you try to escape a sad situation or mindset by forcing yourself to be happy. It may seem to bring joy, but this does not actually make you happy. Maybe that’s why we love Sadness so much. We need her in our lives.
INSIDE OUT is actually a first for Phyllis. She’s never had a role in an animated movie. In fact, Phyllis’ acting career isn’t as long as let’s say, Richard’s. She’s well known for her role on The Office but prior to that, Phyllis had a long career in a Casting office. When she first began working on INSIDE OUT (year 3 of 5) she was really insecure with her performance. Sadness was never meant to be annoyingly sad and crying all the time but with Phyllis being insecure she believes that helped her with the character.
If you were like me, you saw INSIDE OUT and fell in love with Bing Bong. How did I fall in love with a character I didn’t even know existed moments before. I thought it was so crazy that Pixar didn’t let anyone know this special character was in the film, but one should never question Pixar because they know what they are doing.
Funny story- it wasn’t until about 2 months before the film was released, Peter Docter (Director, INSIDE OUT) pulled Richard aside and told him, “We’re going to release the film, but you aren’t going to be part of any of the marketing campaigns.” Richard was okay with it. He knew the film would go down in history and he was proud to be part of that.
Then Peter came to him again and said, “Look, we’re going to Cannes Film Festival. We’re taking the five emotions but you know you’re not going, right?” Poor Richard was like, ‘yeah that’s fine…’. He was totally lying, though. France on Pixar’s dime? Who wouldn’t want to go? haha.
But then the film came out and everyone fell in love with Bing Bong with this huge explosion. The heart that Richard brought to Bing Bong was enough. We didn’t need to see him in marketing to connect with him.
Much to my surprise, neither knew the film would really be as big as it has become. Phyllis particularly. She really is just so sweet and humble. She says, “I had about 12 reading sessions and we would do pieces of the script. I had no concept of what was going to be used. How much would be changed? I really had no concept of it. When I saw it for the first time, I was completely blown away.”
Richard sorta knew, but he has his reservations. “I kept knowing how good this was,” he said, “I was worried about trying to explain the world that these guys created. This was five emotions that have characters and a life, but there are islands, different islands… I compare it to when I was trying to learn the game of Monopoly when I was kid. I didn’t understand all the rules, it took me forever.” he added, “And [the creators] explained it so easily within a matter of minutes – the beginning explains an entire world, a universe – I thought that was amazing. So I always doubted that then I knew it would be brilliant.” said Kind.
Once again, no one should ever doubt Pixar because they know what they are doing. I personally was able to grasp the concept instantly as were my young kids. You can catch Sadness and Bing Bong with the rest of the emotions by watching INSIDE OUT. It’s available now on Disney Movies Anywhere and on Blu-Ray+DVD+Digital HD on Tuesday.