D23, the official (and very awesome) Disney fan club has recently launched an initiative called When Did It Start For You? As the official site explains, it aims to “celebrate the fan in all of us by capturing those very special, deeply personal moments when Disney changed our lives forever.” They interview celebrities and post the videos (both at the official site), which gives you a unique perspective on the impact that Disney has had on people’s lives. Like we said: it’s very awesome.
In fact, to celebrate the newest video, featuring the cast of Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out, we reached out to Phyllis Smith, who voices Sadness in the amazing animated feature (out today), to ask when it started for her, what it feels like to be a part of an all new set of Disney memories, and how Inside Out has changed her life.
When did it start for you?
Well I used to watch, on television on Sunday nights, they had the Disney hour then and the castle coming up and “When you wish upon a star …” That was my very first Disney memory. I’m talking way back when television was first created, after the covered wagons rolled through. And Cinderella was one of my favorites and Lady and the Tramp. I’m talking about when Disney was Disney before all of its expansion.
And now you’re going to be part of other people’s Disney memories.
For the rest of my life!
What does that feel like?
It feels pretty incredible. John Lasseter saw me at Cannes and gave me a big hug and thanked me for being Sadness and told me that I will now, forever be known as Sadness for Disney•Pixar and forever in the Pixar family, which was very terrific to hear. I took the opportunity to also thank him because this movie is changing my life.
Well, to be in a Pixar movie is just great to begin with and it has afforded me the opportunity to do a different medium, because I have never done voice-over before. And I love it. And I’ve been able to visit the Pixar campus, I’ve worked on the Disney lot, I went to Cannes. Prior to that I’d been to Tijuana one day in 1986 and I don’t think that qualifies as real travel and I worked one day in Vancouver on a Chipmunks movie. So this was a pretty terrific adventure for me. It was pretty great.
What was the response like at Cannes?
They started applauding during the credits and then they quieted down and when the credits completely ended they gave us a 10-minute standing ovation. By the time the people in the press department had tried to record it, it was about 10 minutes. But afterwards I asked someone if it was a typical reaction and they said, “Absolutely not.” I could see the relief on the faces of the powers that be and the press people that it was so well received.
What was it like watching your voice come out of this amazing character?
As an actor, of course, your ego takes over and my first watching of the film was, “I should have done that differently, I didn’t do that right.” And then when you see it a second time, this is a film that you can watch multiple times and receive different messages from it and see different things. I saw different reactions in the faces of the characters that I missed in the first go-around because I was self-absorbed. Hopefully when I see it in LA I will see new things that I missed in Cannes and at the wrap party. I think it’s going to be a classic film that will live on long after we’re gone. It’s got such a great message for all ages.
And what does it feel like to be a talking doll?
Nobody’s ever called me a doll so it’s nice to be called, “Hey, doll.” That’s pretty great too.
There’s a great one that talks and kind of slumps over.
I haven’t seen that one! I was given a soft cuddly one in Cannes and you press the hand and it talks. I’m glad to be a doll. There are so many things in this world that are negative that it’s good to be a doll.
How does it feel to be somebody else’s first Disney memory?
That’s a nice question. I never thought of that. I hope it’s a memory that makes them happy and that they find something positive out of being sad. That would be pretty terrific to be in a classic movie that will forever mean something—to make people feel better about themselves or their lives. To make a positive change would be pretty great.