Inside Out – Emotions In Action

Inside Out (2015) was inspired by Oscar-winning director Pete Docter’s own life as he witnessed his own daughter Elie growing up.

“My daughter did the voice of young Ellie in ‘Up’—that spirited, spunky kid with hair out to there—and she was a lot like the character at the time,” says Docter. “But by the time we started ‘Inside Out,’ Elie was older—about 11—and she’d become quiet and withdrawn. It made me think, ‘What’s going on in her head and why is she changing?’”

But then Docter recalled that era in his own life. “It’s a big deal,” he says. “The innocent bubble of childhood bursts and you feel like you’re thrust into an adult world where you’re judged and expected to behave in a certain way. You want to be cool, but you’re not really sure what that means.”

Inside Out 2 returns to the mind of newly minted teenager Riley just as Headquarters is undergoing a sudden demolion to make room for something entirely unexpected: new Emotions! Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust, who’ve long been running a successful operation, aren’t sure how to feel when Anxiety shows up. And she’s not alone.

Contributing to the chaos and joining Anxiety in Headquarters are new Emotions including the always-admiring Envy, the oft-mortified Embarrassment, and Ennui, who’s a lot like “boredom, disdain or this feeling of blasé,” says Mann. “If you’ve ever asked a teenager how their day was and heard ‘fi ne,’ that’s Ennui

Inside OUt

Inside Out © Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Producer Mark Nielsen, who served as associate producer for 2015’s Oscar-winning Inside Out, says he thinks that fi lm resonated with audiences because it was so relatable. “Personifying how we feel was such a rich thing to explore—not only for the entertainment potential in it, but because it’s something every human can connect with,” he says.

Associate producer Kim Collins agrees. “I think everyone just loves that these characters transcend how families can talk about how they’re feeling and that all feelings are legitimate. They’re all OK to express and they all have value, and you shouldn’t bury some and only have the happy ones.”

Writer and Director Peter Docter poses for a portrait in promotion of the new animated feature with Disney, "Inside Out"  in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Sunday, June 7, 2015. (Photo by Rebecca Cabage/Invision/AP)
Writer and Director Peter Docter

Adds Pixar chief creative offi cer Pete Docter, who directed Inside Out, “I think the concept spoke to people because we are all at least subconsciously aware of having an inner emotional life,” he says. “We all know what it feels like to be paralyzed by fear, overcome with anger, or consumed by sorrow. So, we had a basic concept that was relatable and interesting to people.”

The timing of the first film was perfect—Docter’s own daughter was about Riley’s age and growing up, which inspired a story that proved
universal to parents and kids around the world. “

‘Inside Out’ was born of the fortuitous union of my search for something that would really take advantage of what animaton does well—emotions as characters—and the fact that at that time my daughter was going through a bunch of changes. I remembered changing a lot in middle school myself, getting quieter, more self-aware, less exuberant. It begged the question, ‘What happens to that childhood joy?’ And then five years after the film came out, Kelsey Mann told me the film had really resonated for him because his kids went through all of that, too.”

Mann’s kids, of course, went on to hit adolescence, inspiring a whole new story that may prove just as universal—it didn’t take long for fi lmmakers across Pixar to weigh in on their experiences as teenagers
or as parents of teens. Says Docter, “We felt there was more to do with these characters that could speak to the further challenges and adventures of growing up.”

Inside Out 2 releases only in cinemas. © 2024 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The stage had actually been set years prior. Inside Out concludes with a provocative line from Joy as a new button marked “puberty” appears on the console: “After all, Riley’s 12 now. What could happen?”

Says Nielsen, “We realized that the first film really sets up the next era of Riley’s life.”

Like the fi rst fi lm, Inside Out 2 isn’t afraid to tackle tough feelings. Says Collins, “What I find beautiful about this film is how it acknowledges that as kids grow into teens, more complex emotions enter the picture. And there is real science behind these changes, so we knew we had a story that’s relatable to kids and parents and everyone.”

Adds Mann, “We’ve invited a group of complex Emotios into Riley’s mind, tackling feelings like envy,
embarrassment and anxiety. Anxiety is so widespread these days—it’s debilitating for many—and yet the story treats this transition with kindness and empathy, and ultimately joy.”

© 2024 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The idea of Riley entering adolescence provided filmmakers with the perfect canvas. “We met with experts,” says Nielsen. “We read a lot of books and spoke with psychologists about what happens to the
teenage brain—the expansion of their minds at that time. It became clear pretty quickly that there would be a lot of potential for entertainment with a new group of Emotions coming in and disrupting the core five that have just hit their stride in fi guring out how to work together.”

Adds Docter, “The funny thing is, when we did research for the original fi lm, it was pretty clear there are more than just fi ve emotions. But the whole world and story was complex enough that we really needed to simplify.

Inside Out 2 afforded the opportunity to bring in some of the emotions we hadn’t been able to use. Obviously, younger kids do feel things like embarrassment and envy, but I think our cheat that they only show up in later life works okay, given how loud they feel in our teenage years. It’s been a blast developing more funny, caricatured and relatable characters. That was the whole reason to make the film in the first lace!”

“There are defi nitely more complex Emotions that come with being a teenager,” Nielsen continues. “Anxiety has been a part of our story from the beginning, but the impact the last few years have had on all of us—especially teens— it seems like it’s the right time in history to be talking about it.”

Inside Out was directed by Pete Docter from a screenplay he co-wrote with Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley.  Inside Out 2 is directed by Kelsey Mann from a screenplay by Meg LeFauve and Dave Holstein and story by Mann and LeFauve.

Joshua Cooley is a storyboard artist, and voice actor. He is best known for directing the animated films Toy Story 4 (2019) and the upcoming Transformers One (2024), the former of which won for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. He also co-wrote the screenplay for the film Inside Out (2015)

Meg LeFauve is a screenwriter and film producer. She is best known for writing the screenplays for the Pixar animated films Inside Out (2015) and its upcoming sequel Inside Out 2 (2024), and The Good Dinosaur (2015)

Dave Holstein was the writer/creator of Showtime’s dramedy series “Kidding”. He was also a writer/executive ve producer on the Showtime drama “I’m Dying Up Here” and HBO’s comedy series “The Brink.” Holstein was a writer/producer on the final season FOX’s “Raising Hope” and before that spent six years as a writer/producer on Showtime’s “Weeds.” As a playwright, Holstein’s work has been performed in Edinburgh, Sydney, New York, Chicago and elsewhere.