Kyle MacLachlan Talks About How Being A Father Helped Him Perfect His Role in Pixar’s Inside Out
Which emotion controls Kyle MacLachlan? The 5 emotions in the new blockbuster Inside Out – in theaters now -(where Kyle plays Riley’s father) are Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear.
“Joy I think for me. And I would put underneath that silliness just because that’s just kind of my nature. And you know, the rest of them would be secondary…”
You can tell that Joy hold the reigns in Kyle’s mind. As a father to 6 year old Callum he found that being joyful (and silly) came naturally to him which helped him voice his character.
“I was able to bring a little bit of my relationship with my son in and it was encouraged actually by Pete (Docter, writer/director) and Jonas (Rivera, producer) and Ronnie (del Carmen, storyboard), they wanted my personality so I was happy to try different things. Some worked, most didn’t but it’s always good to throw them out there.”
Kyle continued as he related Riley’s emotions with those of his son’s – “I totally see it in him. He’s coming up on 7 so they’re still trying to figure out how they all work together. Joy is the dominant one for him as well but he – he can bring in some disgust with attitude, which I’m sure he’s picked up at school. Some of the others as well. But he definitely has this silly gene from me. You begin to see and recognize, not only in him but in other people as well.”
“I love watching him come to me with an idea like Dad, can you just hold this. He’s got something in his hand, and there’s some fantastical idea and in his brain it makes complete sense, this sequence of things and I’m like, ‘well if you know, if you do that, you’re gonna end up falling in the toilet, you understand that’, and he’s like, No, No, No, No, because he sees it a completely different way. And that to me is the fun of having a little kid, just to listen to them, listen to their logic because it’s so completely not logical. I love that.”
In the film Inside Out Riley’s family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco and Riley feels like a fish out of water in her new home. Her dad does his best to help her acclimate to her new surroundings, something that Kyle thinks is important in being a father –
“He is soft spoken kind of dad,” he says about his character, “a gentle dad. And really attempting to connect with her, to understand what is going on in her brain, which was from Pete Docter – that inspiration was his daughter and trying to understand this vivacious outgoing joyful little creature, then she turned 11. I think just giving — giving your kids a little bit of space to figure it out would be good. You realize with kids, a lot of it is about timing so if you come to them and you’re prepared to have a nice deep conversation, they’re not ready. So you have to take them when they’re ready. You have to engage them when they’re ready. That could be at the most inopportune times. Like 4th quarter, you know, in a great football game, you just have to walk away from the game and engage, because that’s when they’re ready.”
As we went on, he talked a bit about the process of voicing an animated character – it took nearly a year to get the sound bytes finished (2 hours at a time), the fact that he was acting to himself – when he hears Mom (played by Diane Lane), he is reacting to her voice as if they were in the same room together, and acting it all out in his head, a process that he thinks many would be “bored to tears” listening to but he finds fascinating.
The now-famous scene in the trailer was a particularly favorite moment of Kyle’s:
“That moment is so perfect in so many ways because it’s recognizable from everybody. It’s universal whether it happens to be the dad or the mom but it’s funny that it’s the Dad. You realize he is probably had like a crazy busy day where his brain is totally fried and he just wants to come home and sit down and sort of not think for a little bit and he chooses the wrong time to go into his fog.
But it’s challenging especially when you have little ones. You really need to be present with them. I try to be present with my son as much as possible. Um, without being too intrusive, and asking all sorts of questions and you kind of want to draw them out and be up for wherever that little brain decides to go and whatever they seen in class. Often times it’ll be time like bedtime, I’ll be sitting down and we’ll be just sort of reading a book, tucking him in. He’s getting all his Animals around him. And he’ll just pop out with something. You want them to feel A: that they can talk to you about stuff, and B: that if they have any kind of weird stuff that they’re holding onto that you make it that little bit better. ”
It was very evident to see that Kyle values his relationship with his son easily as much as his character does with Riley. For this reason alone it’s easy to see how perfect her was for the role.
Inside Out is in theaters NOW!