×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Playback: Brad Bird on ‘Incredibles 2’ and the Iron Giant’s Big-Screen Return

PLAYBACK is a Variety / iHeartRadio podcast bringing you conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films. New episodes air every Thursday.

After the underperforming live-action effort “Tomorrowland,” writer-director Brad Bird is back in the animation realm this year with “Incredibles 2.” He was eager to dive back into the world of his original 2004 creation once again because the work that went into conjuring that Pixar animated hit was some of the most fun he’s had in his career. Fifteen years later, though, animation has obviously progressed quite a bit. So some of the old headaches weren’t there to cause trouble this time around.

Listen to this week’s episode of “Playback” below. New episodes air every Thursday.

Click here for more episodes of “Playback.”

“We were on the edge of failure the entire time we were making the first movie,” Bird confides. “We barely got the hair in time for Violet. We had some promising tests early on, but they were like strips of rubber. Finally they came to me and said, ‘It’s not getting better and we don’t know how to do it. Nobody else knows how to do it, either.’ All the other CG films had hair helmets, you know? And then some genius insight was had over a weekend and someone was like, ‘If I put a decimal point here, look what happens.’ And we had hair. But we had it at the last possible second. That’s what making the first movie was like. Now all the rigs are much better. They’re more responsive. The lighting tools are better. The fabric, we can do well. It’s more like, ‘Do you know what you want?’ That was a much nicer place to be.”

In hammering out an aesthetic for these films, one that is quite different from the usual Pixar fare, Bird was inspired then, as now, by the spy yarns of his youth. He wasn’t drawing on superheroes and comics books as much, and he even admits to being quite a novice in that realm.

“People think that I’m knowledgable about comic books and I’m really not. That’s the sad truth,” Bird says. “The only one that I know well, where I can hang in there with you, is ‘The Spirit.’ I consider it kind of genius. Will Eisner’s ‘The Spirit’ is sort of the ‘Citizen Kane’ of comic books to me. But I got my superheroes sort of second-hand through movies and TV.”

Bird and his team were in the thick of finishing the film when news broke last fall that Pixar chief John Lasseter would be taking a leave of absence following sexual harassment allegations. Since Bird spoke to “Playback,” it has been announced that Lasseter will be exiting Disney at the end of the year, but prior to that, Bird offered some thoughts about morale at Pixar in the midst of those developments last year.

“It was an odd time,” Bird says. “People assume that we knew or know something beyond what the public knows, but we were all just working. I knew a half an hour before the press knew. I haven’t seen him since. I’ve sent him an email and he hasn’t responded, but he didn’t respond before this happened. He just doesn’t respond to emails! But if you run into him, he’ll have a conversation at any time. I love John. He’s an old friend and I hope it works out in a way that everyone is happy with.”

For more, including Bird’s thoughts on seeing the Iron Giant in Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” earlier this year and his feelings on sequels “taking up too much bandwidth” (funnily enough), listen to the latest episode of “Playback” via the streaming link above.

iHeartRadio
Hear more episodes of “Playback” at iHeartRadio.
Subscribe via iTunes.

More Film

  • Voltage Pictures to Produce Airborne Thriller

    Voltage Pictures to Produce Airborne Thriller 'Blackwing' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Voltage Pictures will produce and fully finance screenwriter David Loughery’s latest thriller “Blackwing,” Variety has learned exclusively. The company will introduce “Blackwing” to buyers at the upcoming European Film Market at the Berlin Film Festival, which opens Feb. 7. Nicolas Chartier and Dominic Rustam are producing, and Jonathan Deckter is executive producing for Voltage Pictures. [...]

  • ‘Metro Exodus’ Opens Up Post-Apocalyptic Russia

    ‘Metro Exodus’ Author On Film, Possible TV Series, Expansive New Game

    Since the launch of the post-apocalyptic survival first-person shooter “Metro 2033” in 2010, the series has kept its action confined to the tunnels running underneath Russia. “Metro Exodus,” due out next month, takes the gameplay to the surface for the first time, going above ground with sprawling levels against a changing backdrop of weather conditions [...]

  • Berlin Film 'The Ground Beneath My

    Berlin Competition Film 'The Ground Beneath My Feet' Sold to Germany's Salzgeber (EXCLUSIVE)

    Salzgeber has acquired the German rights for Berlin Film Festival competition title “The Ground Beneath My Feet” from sales agent Picture Tree International. Variety has been given exclusive access to the film’s trailer. Salzgeber will release the film, directed by Marie Kreutzer, mid-May. Picture Tree describes the movie as a “contemporary female-led drama touching on [...]

  • Donald Glover'Atlanta' TV show premiere, Arrivals,

    Childish Gambino Surprises Beverly Hills Crowd With Reimagined 'Redbone'

    Donald Glover made an unexpected appearance at Film Independent’s “An Evening With…” series tonight (Jan. 15), held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts in Beverly Hills and presented by the HFPA. Joining “Black Panther” composer and Childish Gambino collaborator Ludwig Göransson, who was the subject of a Q&A conducted by “The Treatment” host Elvis [...]

  • 76th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS --

    Film News Roundup: Glenn Close Selected for Oscar Wilde Award

    In today’s film news roundup, Glenn Close gets an honor, AFI names its Directing Workshop for Women participants and Teri Polo gets cast in a Christmas drama. CLOSE HONOR Glenn Close will be honored on Feb. 21 by the US-Ireland Alliance at the 14th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards, held at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot in [...]

  • Jason Reitman Ghostbusters

    Jason Reitman to Direct Secret 'Ghostbusters' Movie

    Sony Pictures is getting the wheels in motion for the next installment in the “Ghostbusters” franchise, and it knows who it’s going to call to direct: Jason Reitman. Sources tell Variety that Reitman, whose father, Ivan, directed the first two “Ghostbusters” movies, will direct the latest pic in the famous franchise. Reitman has also co-written a [...]

  • L.A. Teachers' Strike: Hollywood Studios, Unions

    Hollywood Studios, Unions Support Parents and Educators as L.A. Teachers' Strike Rages

    Hollywood unions and entertainment companies have stepped up to support the 31,000 Los Angeles teachers in the second day of a massive strike that’s affected nearly half a million students. More than 50 SAG-AFTRA members picketed at a Tuesday afternoon rally in the driving rain next to the Hollywood & Highland Center with secretary-treasurer Jane [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content