Phyllis Smith Goes Inside Out with Sadness

Animation is smartly turning to TV stars and character actors for voice work, and Pete Docters’ instincts were spot-on in casting the dead-pan Phyllis Smith (The Office, Bad Teacher) for Inside Out. She plays Sadness, who turns out to be crucial and steals the movie from Amy Poehler’s protagonist, Joy. Not bad for Smith’s first foray in animation. Let’s hope it leads to more voice work.

Bill Desowitz: When Pete had the great revelation that Sadness should be Joy’s antagonist rather than Fear and changed course, how much voice work had you done?

Phyllis Smith: I don’t think I’d done any of it. I really didn’t know that part of the story until after the movie was completed.I had no clue that there was a Joy/Fear backstory and actually heard about it at a lunch that Pete had had at his house. He was talking to someone about it and I overheard that conversation and after that I read about it in an article somewhere. So I’m glad that it was Joy and Sadness.

BD: It’s the difference between a child’s perspective and an adult’s perspective.

PS: And it’s a beautiful moment the revelation that Joy has on her face when Sadness is talking to Bing Bong [Riley's imaginary friend] and the light bulb’s starting to come on for her. Pete and I actually talked about it early on. Sadness was going to have an important part but we didn’t want her to just be an annoyance. We wanted her to have more colors than that.

BD: It’s the hardest role because she’s more subtle than the other emotions. What was it like playing Sadness?

PS: I tried to make her likable because you could get enough of her right away. But she’s really well-rounded. When Joy gives her all the manuals, she reads them, she knows what’s going on, she helps them get through Abstract Thought. So I really enjoyed getting the script because Sadness was smart.

BD: But she has this instinct to tamper with Riley’s memories and doesn’t understand why. So she has a character arc as well.

PS: She’s not sure the why of it — she just knows it’s the right thing to do.

Read the rest at Animation Scoop/Indiewire.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Below the Line, Clips, Crafts, Movies, previs, Tech, VFX, Virtual Production

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