Incredibles 2 Director Brad Bird On the Pressure to Deliver that Pixar Magic, And Being Edna Mode – Again

(Photo by © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

On Helen and Bob’s Role Reversal: “I thought it would be fun to make both of the characters uncomfortable.”

Much has been made of the gender-switch at the center of Incredibles 2 – this time it’s Elastigirl who leaves Mr. Incredible at home to take care of the family while she goes off to fight crime. But Bird is quick to point out that just because Helen gets to kick more butt than Bob in Incredibles 2, we shouldn’t forget that she was a fierce female superhero in the original film, too. “Helen was a strong woman in the first movie, a very powerful female superhero,” he told Rotten Tomatoes. The notion of switching up the family and superhero duties came to Bird “when I was pushing the first film. I wasn’t trying to say anything political. It was more like, this will really screw Bob up. I thought it would be fun to make both of the characters uncomfortable. Helen had adapted to being a parent really, really well, and I thought it would be interesting if she were sort of forced out into being a superhero again and then found that she really missed it. So it was more about what to do for comedy and character development than anything else.”

(Photo by © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

On Jack-Jack’s Powers and Being a Dad: “You’re Living In a State of Anxious Alert.”

The decision to leave Bob at home with the kids – and one multi-powered baby in particular – was comedy gold, says Bird. And mostly because it was a predicament most dads, including Bird, can relate to. “There is a moment as a man when you have kids where you go, How hard can it be?” says Bird. “But then they start becoming mobile. And then it becomes this series of events where you’re afraid they’re going to fall down stairs or put their finger in a socket or they’re not stable. You’re constantly living in a state of anxious alert. This situation is that, times 11.”

On the Jack-Jack Powers We’ll Never Get to See: “I ended up killing entire communities of darlings.”

(Photo by © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

On Choreographing Helen’s Epic Screenslaver Fight Scene: “I saw From Russia With Love at the theater as a kid…and it made a real impression on me.”

On Stepping Back Into Edna’s Stylish Shoes: “I think everyone wants to be so sure of themselves.”

(Photo by © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

In 2004, Bird stole the show in his own film voicing the character of superhero costume designer, Edna Mode. The character returns in Incredibles 2, and she’s not happy that Elastigirl’s been dressed by a rival. “She’s really fun to write,” says Bird. “She’s so certain about her point of view; I think everyone wants to be so sure of themselves.” Getting into character takes some adjusting, he says. “I just have to remind myself of the accent, it’s this weird sort of accent. And when I write her, I try to write everybody differently and have them use different words, and maybe the rhythm of their sentences are different, that’s something I try to do. So I had to remind myself of her cadences a little bit. But you adjust to that pretty quickly, she’s kind of always there, you know?”

On the ‘Pixar Pressure’: “You really didn’t want to be the first film to screw up.”

Bird says he felt pressure while making the film to deliver on time, and to deliver that Brad Bird Pixar magic – few studios or filmmakers out there inspire such high expectations. It was a feeling he remembers clearly from working at Pixar on the first Incredibles movie. “It became a joke and a kind of ritual that a film would go out into the world and on that weekend we’d have a little celebration to celebrate the fact that the film was doing well out in the world, and have a little toast. When Nemo came out, right after the toast, Andrew Stanton kinda looked towards us and said, ‘No pressure guys.’ And it became a joke because you really didn’t want to be the first film to screw up at Pixar. So yeah, there’s pressure. But there’s pressure on any film. A lot of creative people throw their heart and soul into it.”

Incredibles 2 is in theaters June 15

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