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Fear of Talking to Girls Behind Pixar's Up

Director Pete Doctor reveals the inspiration behind Carl Fredricksen's quest for solitude in UP.
Pixar, the CGI animation production company born out of Lucasfilm's Computer Division and acquired by Disney in 2007, has produced several of the most enduring animated characters of the past two decades, from Buzz Lightyear to Nemo to WALL-E. In Up, Pixar's latest release, you won't find any animated toys or talking cars, only a curmudgeonly old man and his chubby 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer sidekick (and a few talking dogs, naturally).

With many of Pixar's other films--aToy Story, Finding Nemo, A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc.--the title gives you a clue about what the film is about; not so with Up. When asked to describe the film, even director Pete Doctor had a hard time summing it up:

"It's a hard movie to talk about in a way because it's got a lot of elements to it. . . . That's what we're trying to do all the time, is surprise people."

Up tells the tale of Carl Fredricksen (voiced by Ed Asner), a grumpy man who ties balloons to his house and sails off for South America with Russell (Jordan Nagai), an 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer scout, in tow. The concept of flying away when life gets too irritating grew out of some of Doctor's own fears about social interactions, which he discussed in a recent interview:

"I’m just not an extroverted person. I think a lot of us became animators because talking to people is kind of scary….especially girls. So it’s easier to draw. It’s easier to just communicate through drawing. It’s a way to communicate with people.

It was really hard becoming a director on Monsters, Inc. because up until then I had a chance to withdraw to my office and animate. As a director, you’re thrust out and you’re talking to people all day. And at the end of the day, I just want go hide under the bed or something and talk to nobody. This film was kind of born out of that."

Up is the first Pixar film to be released in Disney Digital 3-D and is the first animated film to open the Cannes Film Festival.

Up opens Friday, May 29th!

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Brent Sprecher

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