Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke and ‘Inside Out 2’ Costars Reveal What Gives Them Joy — and Anxiety — as Actors | Video

Paul Walter Hauser, Lewis Black, Liza Lapira and Tony Hale open up to TheWrap about the emotions behind their Pixar sequel

While discussing what brings him the most joy and the most anxiety as an actor, Paul Walter Hauser reflected on the moment he struggled to stay in character because he was fanboying over his “Virginia” costars Ed Harris and Jennifer Connelly.

“I’ve seen them my whole life. I can’t stay in the scene, I’m looking at Ed Harris,” Hauser, who plays new emotion Embarrassment in “Inside Out 2,” recently told TheWrap. The sequel’s overarching message tackles how main character Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) handles anxiety as she enters puberty. “I had my first movie with Ed Harris and Jennifer Connelly, and it was like, the whole time I had to keep peeling myself out of fanboy and be present at the scene,” he added.

TheWrap asked the entire cast that question in a nod at the film’s emotion-based characters Joy (Amy Poehler) and Anxiety (Maya Hawke). For Hauser, he said he’s excited about every level of the creative process, though some aspects do make him anxious.

“I think anxiety is more about getting the job. And I think the in between time is what gives me anxiety,” Hauser said. “The joy of it is the creative process and getting to meet people. I literally memorized parts of [Black’s] comedy act in the early 2000s, so sitting next to him is super nice. And we’re talking about this movie that’s probably getting nominated for Best Animated Feature, like, that’s crazy. This is all joy.”

As for Lewis Black, who reprises his role as Anger in the Pixar film, he never quite had the language to define his anxiety growing up — but he mentioned that his craft does help alleviate those feelings.

“I mean, the nice thing about acting is, I never expected to be. I was a writer for a long time, a playwright, and I didn’t expect to be an actor, so it gives me a great deal of joy and it removes … by playing someone else, it frees me from anxiety,” Black shared. “I don’t feel it unless I’m in it. Like, when I first appeared, I had a scene with another actor and I was like, I can’t believe I’m working with this person. I’m just freaking out. You know, that one where you’re like, ‘God, this can’t be?’”

For Hauser’s fellow “Inside Out 2” newbie Hawke (“Stranger Things”), who comes in as the emotion Anxiety, the actress said her anxiety as an actor stems from pushing her art into the world. However, she explained that promoting “Inside Out 2” has been a more relaxing experience.

“I would say this part makes me the most anxious — not really on this job, actually,” she said. “This movie is so wonderful to talk about that there’s a real calmness to this part because we haven’t all worked together before and now we’re getting to meet. There’s also this kind of social beauty and communal celebration of getting to be a part of something like this, but most of the time, the part that makes me nervous is the putting stuff out, promoting stuff part. Like, the getting dressed up trying to look good, ‘I hope people like me, I hope people like it.’ And the most joyful part is the making of it. The getting up, the going to work the, ‘How can I make this thing a little bit more wonderful than it was yesterday today?’ You know, what can I do? So that’s my kind of barometer.”

Chiming in, Poehler cosigned Hawke’s response.

“Well said. I feel like the people in the process are in the thing and then sending it out into the world is kind of the stressful part, because you’re kind of passing around something you worked hard on and you don’t have that much control once it goes into the world,” Poehler said. “But this one feels good. This one feels real good. I think it’s going to be well-received.”

Liza Lapira (“The Equalizer”), who plays Disgust, reiterated that job uncertainty as an actor can be nerve-wracking, but she uses her anxiety to help her plan for an often unforeseeable future in show business.

“I think what gives me the most joy is this, getting to connect with people getting to meet actors that I’ve admired. I think getting to do the job of acting is just play, especially in a Pixar film, especially on ‘Inside Out 2’. I just show up and I play, that gives me joy,” Lapira said. “In terms of anxiety, I picked a profession where you don’t know what happens next. And I also picked a profession where I have to use my imagination. So the temptation is to imagine what happens next. So it’s just part of my daily life. And the key part of this movie is anxiety does serve a purpose. It’s to help you plan. So I use my anxiety, but I just don’t let it go crazy.”

Tony Hale also reflected on conversations he’s had with former “Veep” costar Julia Louis-Dreyfus about how anxiety-inducing it can be to not always have a carved out path as comics in the industry.

“I think like Joy, to piggyback on that. I mean, there are moments I remember on ‘Veep’ when Julia and I would talk about riding the comic wave together. When you’re in the pocket, and you’re just like, ‘Oh, this is, we’re surfing, like this feels really good.’ Anxiety,” Hale recalled. “For many years, I kind of listened to that lie that, ‘Oh, this business kind of tells you you have value if you did this. If you did this, you have value this,’ and it’s like, no. The more I’m realizing my value is the same before and after success. That is where truth is, but many times even as an older, middle-aged man, I can veer into giving too much power to people. And that’s where anxiety can kick in.”

For “Inside Out 2” producer Mark Nielsen and director Kelsey Mann, the two shared how overjoyed they are to finally finish a project they’re passionate about.

“For the joy of it all, man, the collaboration of working with a team of artists and technicians and production geniuses at Pixar for four years to craft this thing has been awesome,” Neilsen said. “We’re so proud of this team, and how hard they worked and how they just brought their passion and every day to help us make this movie the greatest thing it can be. That’s the joy. The anxiety is gone because we finished and we love it. It existed the whole time. But right now, backseat Joy’s on the console.”

Mann further noted that what brings him the most anxiety is when all the goodies have been grabbed up at the Pixar café.

“Yeah, I’d have to say for me the joy are all of the wonderful desserts we get to have at Pixar,” he admitted. “We have a wonderful cafe that makes great desserts. Anxiety is when they’re out. When I go down, I’m like, ‘Hey, where are they … they’re sold out.’ You can smell it, honestly, you can smell when they’re like, ‘Oh, are they making a donuts down there. You could smell it. And when I go down I’m like, ‘Oh, I’d like a do–, oh, where are they?’ They’re gone.”

“Inside Out 2” is set to bring joy to theaters on June 14.

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