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Fred Topel Interviews and Movie Reviews

Incredibles II Interview

With Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, Samuel L. Jackson and Director Brad Bird


The Incredibles are back, or rather the Parr family is back and they are inevitably called upon again to take up their superhero alter egos. After battling The Underminer, Helen Parr (Holly Hunter) gets a new mission requiring her Elastigirl powers, while Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) stays home with the kids. He gets help from Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) too.

dreameGGs attended the Los Angeles press conference for Incredibles II with Hunter, Nelson, Jackson and writer/director Brad Bird. 14 years after the original film premiered, the long-awaited Incredibles II is finally out this weekend.

Q: How did you work with production designer Ralph Eggleston on the look of the film?

BB: He came onto the first film when we were just having trouble with the size of it. He came in and helped Lou Romano out just getting it done because it was sort of beyond us at that point. We were a smaller studio and the film was larger than we were. Ralph loves movies like most people at Pixar. He really loves films and he’s always reading a new book and he has a thing to show you. He’s kind of always disgorging art and books and things that he found and sketches he’s made. He’s just kind of spewing them out in every direction all the time. The film really benefited from this fuel. He thinks about color psychologically. He thinks about it in terms of what’s going to surprise people. And he’s not afraid to make bold choices.

The house that they wound up in, we were working on it and suddenly he came in one day and we’d already put a lot of effort in another house. We were under a lot of pressure because they took a year off of our schedule. He said, “Okay, so I have this idea for the house. It’s really going to screw things up for everyone including me but I just have to say it. Here’s the idea. The house should not work for them. It should be initially impressive but then you get in there and everything’s wrong for a family. These things that are beautiful originally, they’re water things, they become this problem and then it’s the wrong house for them. There’s no real place for the baby’s room and there’s a fireplace in the baby’s room for no reason.” Everything he’s saying, I’m going, “Oh, that’s going to ruin this and that’s going to ruin that but he’s totally right. Damn, why is he right?”

So I agreed to it and it totally screwed up everything I had in the script in terms of we need to see this in the foreground so we can see that in the background. Suddenly everything was a giant problem, and yet it was right because the house needed to be impressive but wrong for the family because they’re not in a comfortable place yet. They have to find their way there. That was a way of making the surroundings storytelling, which is really what good production design it.

Q: Sam, is there any parallel between the family in The Incredibles and the surrogate family in The Avengers?

SLJ: As I remember it, that family kind of fell out in Infinity War. It happened and nobody called me to make them be good. I noticed that also. Why am I no there quelling this thing? I did bring all these people into S.H.I.E.L.D. and now all of a sudden I’m not there. So I don’t know what you’re talking about. I can’t relate. The genre has grown and it’s grown inside this one place. Sure, there’s an other company that makes movies that are like this. Couple of them are good. There’s a real interesting kind of playbook sometimes that I look at when I watch all the movies. They have this secret sauce that sometimes I wonder because I’m there and I’m looking at the directors. I go, “So these guys did a TV show. Why are they doing this?” Or “This person does these serious dramas. Why is he doing this?” But there’s something that they know or they find that made it work. The relationships among people on the inside of those films always become very intimate and sometimes people that are really related like Loki and Thor, they don’t like each other. There’s family discord. People that don’t know each other that are looking for that connection become tied together in a very interesting sort of way. You’ve got your bratty brother in Iron Man. You’ve got your kind of special needs kid in Hulk. You’ve got your sister who turns out to be Black Widow who’s a real killer but heart of gold. All these things come together and these people find a common goal or they’re all working toward a common good which brings them together in a very unique and interesting way.

BB: How did this turn into an Avengers press conference?

SLJ: I’m just saying. They didn’t let me work in all those movies for a reason. Because I really don’t know what’s going on but I can pretend I do. Kinda like this one. I really don’t know what’s going on but I know they need me and I make the icy stuff and I make things happen. Thank you for allowing me to do that

BB: Sure, of course.

Q: Do you find that The Incredibles is as beloved by adults as it is by kids?

BB: Yeah, kids are strangely treated like beards. “I’m a single guy but I want to see this. I found a kid. Can I come in now? Here’s this kid. He was roaming the streets. I told him I’d pay for his ticket. Will you let me in?” It’s like no, man. It’s an art form. It’s for anyone that likes movies. You don’t need to have a kid. People are constantly coming up to me, “My kids really enjoyed it.” And I go, “Did you like it?” “Oh yeah, sure, but Billy really liked it.” I made it for you and Billy can come. I’m not a kid and I made something that I would want to see. We’re not kids and we worked on this.

HH: I think we probably all felt that way about the first one as well. It was a movie that stood on its own. It’s not a kids movie. In a way, this one is particularly more not a kids movie, although kids totally dig it. There were a lot of kids in the audience on premiere night who loved it. Even small kids love Jack-Jack and love Dash. I think it works, in a way, the movie has complexity that is really astonishing. It’s got like 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 that is very sophisticated.

Q: In the 14 years since The Incredibles there’ve been so many superhero movies. How much did that affect developing the sequel?

HH: Was there anything that you went, “Let’s not do that?”

BB: Oh yeah, I immediately banned three point landings. I said, “No, we’re not doing that on this film. Helen did it once in the first film. It’s not cool anymore.” But really, the thing was there was a dark moment when all the machinery was kicked into gear, you’ve got a release date. I realized two years from now, the film’s going to come out, there’s too many superhero movies now. Are people going to be just sick of this in two years? Just what I want to happen, I arrive on the scene, “Anybody ready for some fresh superheroes?” Everybody’s like blegh. I had a dark moment and then I realized that what excited me about the idea in the first place was not the superheroes. It was that it was about the family dynamic and people’s roles in different parts of their life. How the superhero genre is like a twist of lemon that you squeeze on top of this. It’s not what the movie’s about. Then I got excited again because to me families are kind of a continent of fresh opportunities because it’s so universal. So I got excited again when I thought about it that way and that was really what excited me about the first movie.

CTN: Also, I rehearsed the three point landing. After a while, it doesn’t work.

Q: Do you have kids come up to you who recognize your voice?

SLJ: Kids don’t do that. Their parents do. And then they try to make the kid know who you are. “That’s Frozone, honey.” He looks at you like, “You don’t have a blue suit on. You’re not making ice stuff, so nah.” “Where’s my supersuit, honey?” “Oh, what’d I do with this?” I may have to give him a catch phrase but they don’t know who you are from Adam. As they get older, like kids that were four when they saw the movie and are now 18, so they’ve been waiting. They’re knocking little kids over here in line. My daughter’s 35, she’s knocking big kids over. They understand that part but no, we don’t get a new audience because we did a movie that kids really like.

CTN: It’s embarrassing really. Moms and dads are saying, “Look, Bill, there’s Mr. Incredible. That’s Mr. Incredible.” Kids are staring at you. “Well, say something like Mr. Incredible. Go ahead.” Well, it’s been 14 years. I don’t remember what I said in the first movie. How about this? It’s showtime. The kid is like… It’s just embarrassing.

Photos by Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

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