“I remember when I first started and [director Pete Docter] pitched me the idea that he wanted it to be about sadness, I remember thinking, that is such a profound idea to put out into the world,” says “Inside Out” co-writer Meg LeFauve about the theme of the Pixar animated film, for which she’s nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay along with co-writers Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen and Josh Cooley. “What we’re really talking about is self-acceptance: be where you are and accept you are angry, you are sad.”
“Inside Out” is about 11-year-old Riley and the five emotions that govern her personality: Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). When Joy and Sadness become separated from the group, the two opposing emotions must come to terms with each other for Riley’s sake.
The film’s message of coming to terms reconciling with your own emotions has helped LeFauve with her own children. “You want to be a perfect parent, but when I can finally admit, ‘Mom’s really freaking out right now’ or ‘Mom just made a mistake’ … my son who’s 12 can rise to the occasion and come to me, put his arm around me,” she explains. “So I found that that profound idea of ‘Be where you are’ really can connect and bond you so deeply together … It really was, for me, the guiding light of what we were doing.”
That idea has guided others as well. “ appreciate the response we’re getting from people, not just regular audiences but the special-needs community. My son is a special-needs child, and the film has deeply impacted them in terms of the ability to talk to them and know what’s going on … That is the real, deep satisfaction: that something has rippled out into the world that’s helping people. It’s helping people connect and reach each other.”
LeFauve adds, “People have come up to me and said, ‘I’m a better parent’ — instead of trying to change my child and just jump over what they’re feeling to try to get them to happy, I just say, ‘Who’s driving?’ and we talk about it. And I’m just so excited about that because that’s sometimes all a kid needs, to be seen.”
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