Interview: Richard Kind on INSIDE OUT
With year-end best of lists about to be unveiled, expect Pixar’s animated modern classic Inside Out to top many critics’ compilations. The highly original story that takes the viewer inside the mind and emotional landscape of pre-pubescent Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) captured hearts when it was released theatrically in June of this year. It was the character of Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong, however, that had audiences in fits of laughter and tears. Voiced by comedic treasure Richard Kind (better known from his stints on television’s Spin City and Mad About You), the part elephant, part dolphin yet created from cotton candy lovable creature was our favourite part of the film and we were extremely excited to speak to the actor by telephone prior to the film’s blu-ray release. The following are some of the highlights from our charming conversation.
Scene Creek: Can you talk a little about the recording process. What sort of direction did you get from (co-writers and co-directors) Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen?
Richard Kind: First of all, they’re the most collaborative directors you’ll ever get. In a funny way Pete, who is a very nice man, and dare I say non-confrontational, will laugh and laugh and laugh and say, “That’s great, but let’s try it like this” and he’ll make it like a game. Now I’m an actor who loves direction. Give me any direction and I look at it like a challenge. Ooh, let’s see if I can do what he wants. So a lot of times it was very collaborative and I would do a take and I’d get my energy and go, “Waaaait, stop, stop, stop. I want to do another! And another!” And then I’d do another take and there was an energy to it. I’m relentless because I like to act and I want to make sure it’s done correctly. So even though they would say, “I think we’ve got it”, a lot of times I would say, “No, no, no, I have another idea.” And so we would go back and forth quite a lot.
SC: You’ve been a part of several Pixar films over the years (Inside Out, Cars 2, Toy Story 3, Cars, A Bug’s Life). What do you attribute their success to?
RK: Oh God. Here’s what I think. I think they set out to do the best job that they possibly can. They go in with an idea and they think their idea is great, and there may be kernels of greatness but they build on that. And maybe the one kernel doesn’t work so they push that aside and put something else in. Then they work and they work and they work until they are happy that they have done the best job that they absolutely could do. Not it’s okay, or it’s good enough, they go for the absolute best. And usually they’re right because they’re smart people and they’re humane people with a sense of ethics and morality and entertainment, bar none. They are superior people. We say in Yiddish they are mensches. They are great citizens of the world who are blessed with the gift of storytelling, and that’s why they’re great.
SC: What core memory has shaped who you are today or, alternatively, which one stays with you the most?
RK: Well I just had a fantastic lunch so I am overjoyed now, to talk a little about emotions. I had a great chicken parmesan and it was somebody’s birthday and I was amongst friends and people I love. Although, to be honest, and I don’t know if I should be saying this because I’m talking about a delightful movie, but I unfortunately went to a funeral this morning of a very dear friend who died at a very early age. She was much like (Inside Out character) Joy. She was a really great and giving person and it’s a true example of when bad things happen to good people. So that’s what life is. You have a horrific, horrible morning, mourning the loss of a fantastic person, and then you go to lunch and you celebrate someone you love.
SC: Bing Bong has been called one of the most memorable animated characters of all time. Who is your favorite Disney/animated character?
RK: Well when I was a little boy I loved Beany and Cecil. Cecil was my favorite. From the sound of it you’re too young to remember Beany and Cecil. Bob Clampett was the animator and there was a little boy and his sea serpent pet, and I had a Cecil doll. He was long and green. And I also, and it really speaks to little boys, loved The Sword in the Stone. So I wanted to be Wart from The Sword in the Stone but I ended up being Merlin.
SC: You are currently appearing on the Amazon Studios series Red Oaks. Can you tell our readers a little about the show?
RK: Red Oaks is a marvelous 10 episode series with each episode being half an hour. It is a combination of Caddyshack, The Flamingo Kid, and The Graduate. It’s about a young kid who works at a Country Club and it is quite, quite smart and touching and funny and it’s really good. I encourage everyone to watch it and it has your hometown boy on it-Ennis Esmer-and he’s so talented. A really wonderful Canadian actor.
SC: Will you be appearing in any upcoming episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt? Canadians were so thrilled with your character’s repeated mentions of the Montreal Expos.
RK: Oh that’s so sweet! There’s no bigger fan of Tina Fey than myself. We worked together back at Second City. I think the show is hilarious and if you have anything to do with it, please call her and tell her that I’d love to be on the show again.
SC: In honor of Halloween coming up and (Inside Out character) Riley’s subconscious fear of broccoli and clowns, what are some of your fears?
RK: That’s so easy. I hate snakes, I hate spiders, I hate rats, I hate bats. I hate them. And for some reason I don’t like heights, like climbing a ladder or the ledge of a building, but I love airplanes. And I don’t think I would be afraid of falling out of an airplane. I don’t know why. But put me on a three tiered stepladder and my knees get quaky. There’s nothing to explain it.
Inside Out (Blu-ray/DVD Combo pack + Digital Copy) is available in stores on November 3rd.