‘Incredibles 2’ Director and Cast on Bringing Back the Ultimate Superhero Family
The wait was definitely worth it. After 14 years Pixar’s classic superhero family returns in “Incredibles 2.” Director Brad Bird picks up right where the first movie left off and brings back the Parr family, who are your typical suburban unit on the surface, but when needed don their masks and go tackle villainy. But now that superheroes have been outlawed Bob, also known as Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Helen, also known as Elastigirl (Holly Hunter), and the kids, Violet (Sarah Vowell), Dash (Huck Milner), and little Jack-Jack (Eli Fucile), move out of their home with little idea of what to do next. Just then a tycoon steps in and offers Elastigirl a chance at sponsorship so she can fight crime and prove super heroes are vital, to Mr. Incredible’s jealous mumbling. As you can imagine, there are dark and dangerous plots afoot. But meanwhile Mr. Incredible finds himself taking on the role of single parent, just as Jack-Jack’s powers literally explode into view. Old buddy Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) is back however, to help with the babysitting.
The film itself is a special achievement, full of high-octane action, gorgeous imagery and a lot of heart. “Incredibles 2” is a satire on the whole super hero genre and a joyous visual feast about the bonds of family. Bird, Nelson, Hunter, Vowell, Milner and Jackson recently spoke with Entertainment Voice to share the experience of having powers and coming together for this hilarious and wildly entertaining movie.
For Bird animation provides a unique freedom to defy time when staging a sequel. “I just thought it was kind of bold and weird. Because I think people take the time that passes very literally. And they think that linearly, the characters should have aged,” he said. “I worked on the first eight seasons of ‘The Simpsons.’ And the Simpsons haven’t aged a day and they’re still on the air. So it worked for them. Why not us?”
New to the cast is Huck Milner, who voices Dash, who was originally voiced by Spencer Fox in the 2004 original. “Well, I saw the first movie when I was like five or something,” said Milner with enthusiasm. “And when I got the audition, I just was watching the movie over and over again and when my mom got sick of watching it, I used the audition as an excuse to watch it again.”
Much of the film rests on the shoulders of Elastigirl, voiced by Holly Hunter, who becomes the key character. For Hunter it was quite the experience, not least because Bird started working without a finished script. “Well, I didn’t read a screenplay because there wasn’t really one,” revealed Hunter. “It was a while before I truly realized what I was really going to get to do in the movie. And I was really thrilled. But it was like a retroactive thrill.” Hunter is aware that while this isn’t a message movie per se, putting Elastigirl front in center is an important statement in itself. “I don’t think that this is a message movie in any way. I think it’s purely like luck of the draw that this happens to be dovetailing with #MeToo. But obviously, time is up, ok. And I feel that way personally. It happens to be serendipitously reflected in this particular movie.”
Craig T. Nelson was happy to find that Mr. Incredible faces a challenge greater than any super villain, single parenting. “I found out that I’m going to be helping save the family. And Bob is going to learn how to be a dad and he’s going to learn about these kids and then the process started when we were recording. It was just so much fun.” Nelson particularly enjoyed how Mr. Incredible grows closer to the children. “The stuff I do with Violet and the two of us together and Jack-Jack and that whole discovery. And then Dash. And then having to deal with Elastigirl out there doing what I want to do and being able to give her the encouragement. Let her know that everything is okay. It was just a lot of fun. I’m so honored to be a part of it, to be doing this.”
Sarah Vowell, who voices Violet, the high schooler Incredible dealing with the hassles of being a teen, shared on the experience of being a voice to drama you can’t even see. “Not only do we not see the screenplays, sometimes, we don’t know where we are in any scene. You’re like, is this in a car? I’m like hello. You’re trying to get a sense of the architect, the literal architecture of where the character is,” said Vowell. “Everything has to be drawn from scratch. And so like a live actor, they’re actually in the car or a facsimile there of, trying to gauge like where it is.”
Samuel L. Jackson balked at the idea that kids might recognize him as Frozone by his voice, pointing out that it’s more likely that adults will make the connection. “The kids who were four and saw the [original] movie now are 18. So they’ve been waiting. They’re knocking little kids over to get in line. And my daughter is 35. She’s knocking big kids over to get in.”
Bird concurs that this is the kind of movie that transcends ages, made for both kids and adults. “It’s an art form. It’s like for anyone that likes movies. And you don’t need to have a kid. People are constantly coming up to me, ‘my kid really enjoyed it.’ I go, ‘did you like it?’ They go ‘oh yeah, sure. But Billy really liked it.’ And I’m like, ‘I made it for you.’”
For Hunter “Incredibles 2” thrives in its layers of being both endearing and fun. “The movie has complexity that is really astonishing in that it has got five different movies. And they all work in concert with each other. They all need each other, all five. But it’s an incredible fabric that’s been woven together. It’s very sophisticated.”
“Incredibles 2” at its heart is about the complexities of families, which is why Bird feels it goes beyond the super hero genre currently dominating the market. “That genre [super heroes] is like a twisted lemon that you squeeze on top of this. It’s not what the movie is about. And then I got excited again, because to me, families are kind of a continent of fresh opportunities, because it’s so universal.”
“Incredibles 2” opens June 15 in theaters nationwide.