Pixar’s ‘Inside Out 2’ Filmmakers Reveal the Movie’s Missing Emotion

Director Kelsey Mann tells TheWrap about removing Shame and finding the heart of the sequel

Inside Out 2
"Inside Out 2" (Credit: Pixar)

Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” introduces a new collection of emotions to the mind of Riley, now a  teenager experiencing a formative experience at hockey camp – there’s Anxiety (Maya Hawke), a jittery orange live-wire; Envy (Ayo Edebiri), with big, saucer eyes; Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos) who can barely be bothered to show up; and Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser), a big purple softie hiding behind his hooded sweatshirt. They join the emotions we are already familiar with – Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Tony Hale, replacing Bill Hader) and Disgust (Liza Lapira replacing Mindy Kaling).

There was one more emotion that used to be a part of “Inside Out 2” – Shame. So where did this character go?

To find out, TheWrap went to Pixar, where we talked to the filmmakers about the making of “Inside Out 2” and what became of that missing emotion.

A big story with a huge cast

It’s perhaps understandable that a character fell off the table. “It’s been it’s been a lot to get done, because there’s just so many [hurdles], like the pandemic and not having any production dialogue [due to the SAG-AFTRA strike],” director Kelsey Mann told TheWrap. “It was really hard.”

Mann, who previously served as the head of story on “Monsters University” and “Onward,” combatted the setbacks by assembling the largest team of animators ever on a Pixar movie. Producer Mark Nielsen said the movie utilized 150 animators, truly a new Pixar record.

The inflated size of the cast dictated everything from the movie’s aspect ratio, with the original film being a boxier 1.85:1 and the sequel having a much longer, widescreen 2.35:1 ratio, to how the camera moves around that space. (The new console in Riley’s mind, for instance, is also longer. Now all the characters can stand behind it.)

Even the task of resurrecting the original characters was an ordeal, as Mann said the “technology had changed so much” that the “Inside Out 2” team was told it would take over a year just to resurrect Joy. The way that the characters were created on the first film was not how they would be created here.

“They used technology that they canceled. They were not using it anymore. That meant brand new shading and lighting tools,” Nielsen said. “You want it to look like everyone remembers it looking.”

It was a lot to figure out for the sequel. Now imagine if there had been another all-new character wedged in there, too.

Origins of Shame

Earlier in the day, at Pixar, there was a presentation about the new characters cohosted by Jason Deamer, a legendary art director and character designer at the studio. (Chances are whatever your favorite Pixar character is, Deamer was responsible.) They were flashing through slides of the characters and there was one that featured a character that he said he just didn’t have time to photoshop out – it was a grey character, looking rather glum. This is Shame.

“She was always part of it,” Mann said.

“She was a tough character to redeem,” Nielsen interjected.

“It was not fun to watch,” Mann said more seriously. “It was not fun. It was too heavy. You know when you see a good movie and you’re like, ‘Man that was a great movie.’ You want to see it again? ‘No, not really.’ There are movies like that.”

Mann continued: “I don’t want to make that movie. I want to make a movie that’s really meaningful and when you’re asked, ‘Do you want to see that movie again?’ You say, ‘Yes!’ Because those are my favorite movies. And those are the kinds of movies I want to make. And I did not want to return to that movie with that character. It’s not that funny.”

Shame was also not a real emotion, according to Dr. Dacher Keltner, who helped out the “Inside Out 2” team. “It was like, What are we trying to say?” Deamer said. “Shame is a real thing in life but not everybody goes through that. But anxiety is in all of us. It’s just better. I think it’s a more important thing to talk about than some kind of message about don’t shame yourself. It was preachy. Anxiety, you need it. It’s not 100% bad.”

Originally, there were nine new emotions that would bombard Riley’s mind. “I didn’t miss Shame,” Deamer said. “But I did like the design of it.” (One he did miss was Guilt, who was always hiding behind stacks of baggage – get it?)

Not that the character (or at least what the character represented) is entirely gone from “Inside Out 2.”

“There’s elements that are still there. This movie has always been about dealing with the feeling that you’re not good enough,” Deamer said. “And we still have that element, that shame element in there.”

Villainous Tendencies

Another aspect of Shame, according to Deamer, was that she was “an arch villain.” This aspect was sort of transferred to the new emotions. In the 30 minutes of preview footage shown to TheWrap, it’s evident the new emotions aren’t very nice to the emotions that we already know and love.

“One thing that we thought was fun about these new characters is we’re bringing in the next generation of emotions. I think it was Amy Poehler that’s like, ‘These guys are kind of like the Gen Z emotions.’ Again, because they’re savvy and they’re like, Yeah, we know it’s up. We’re here for this. You guys are cool. Your time might be a little bit up,” Nielsen said. “We found it a great way to dramatize and kind of pit these two groups against each other.”

Dr. Keltner also guided this aspect of the production.

“I remember him saying something like, ‘At this age, you start to have an internal battle inside you,’” Mann said. “I really resonated with that. I just wrote down the phrase ‘internal battle’ and I circled it. And I was like, That’s pretty cool. That’s different.”

In the first movie, Joy was an accidental antagonist; her overbearing nature ended up causing a lot of problems for Riley and the rest of the emotions. Mann realized he had a chance to do something different with the sequel. “Like, what if there was actually a battle between the two groups?” Mann said. “It feels true to be in that age. Because you have that battle that’s going on inside your head, that you typically don’t talk about. And you think, I’m the only one who’s dealing with it. What better way to deal with this than put it up on the screen, so that people don’t feel alone? And they realize like, well, they made a movie about this.”

Yes, yes they did. It’s called “Inside Out 2.” And it’s out on June 14.

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