Our Chat With “Cars 2″ Director John Lasseter

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Photography by Deborah Coleman ©Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved

We’re about as big of Cars fans as they come, so you can imagine our giddiness when we were asked to preview the Cars 2 spy sequel at none other than Pixar Studios in their private screening room. In between our tour of the facilities and schmoozing with Pixar animators, we had a chance to chat with John Lasseter, Cars 2 director and the creative genius behind some of your favourite Pixar films, including Toy Story 1, 2 and 3, A Bug’s Life and the original Cars. Here’s some of what he had to say:

Canadian Family: A big part of the Pixar movies is the fact that it appeals to both parents and kids. How do you strike that balance?

John Lasseter: We make movies that we like to watch.  So often a family film is made for kids and it doesn’t hold the parent. Other times what you think is a family film is inappropriate. The family audience is so important to me, and it’s everybody. So we set out to make films that work for women and men, boys and girls, teenagers, young adults who don’t have kids, parents, grandparents and kids. And mostly it is about really smart story telling, with really great characters and very, very, inventive worlds. Every Pixar film is original and I can guarantee you that you will come into a Pixar film and you will see things that you’ve never seen before in your life, every single one, and Cars 2 especially.

CF: As in all Pixar films, there are great actors in Cars 2. Do people ever come up to you asking to be in the films?

JL: It’s interesting, early in Pixar’s history it was hard to get some actors to be a part of an animated film. But I think because of Pixar’s track record of great filmmaking, and especially if an actor or an actress has a family, they want to be in a Pixar film. So we now do get calls often. But we don’t cast our actors for how big of a star they are. We match the personality of the actor with the personality of the part and then we look for how they can make the part their own. We don’t want people to be like hey isn’t that so-and-so’s voice in the movie? I want people to get sucked into the story and just be caught up with great characters.

CF: Obviously you’ve had a lot of success, but do you have your own personal measure of success?

JL: There was one moment in particular that I think about all the time. It was just after the first Toy Story and I had taken my family down to Disney World because I heard there was going to be a Toy Story parade. We were flying home (and it was back in the day when people could come meet people at the gate) and when I got off the plane I saw a little boy, about four years old, standing with his mom. He was holding a Woody the Cowboy doll and he couldn’t wait to show it to his dad, who was getting off the plane. It was my first experience seeing a character that I created outside of our studio and Disney. The look on his face and excitement that he showed was like, wow. I thought to myself, this character does not belong to me anymore it belongs to him. And so honestly, I think about that little boy nearly every day as I make these films because it is so representative of that fact that we succeed at what we do.

Cars 2 rolls into theatres June 24th.

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