If there's any actor that seems to consistently hold a presence in the nerd spectrum with a respected amount of charm and grace, it has to be Kyle Maclachlan. From cult classics like Dune and Twin Peaks (the latter of which is receiving a much-anticipated continuation this year) to more recent smash-hits like [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](tag:722469) and Portlandia the actor has proven himself diverse enough to fit nearly every role he physically can. In Inside Out, Maclachlan sheds the crazy of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Calvin Zabo and takes on the role of the stressed, but dedicated father of the film's main character.
As Dad, Maclachlan takes something of a back seat to the film's main cast, but serves as an integral part of the story - he is, after all, Riley's Dad. While Dad has his own struggles, Maclachlan seemed thrilled about what Inside Out might mean to children who see it:
I think kids will have a certain experience, and adults will also have a certain experience. In the best of Pixar’s traditions, they’ve built something for everyone. Children will be able to identify their feelings a bit, maybe they’ll be able to personify their emotions because of these characters and understand them a little bit, and be -- perhaps -- more comfortable with them.
There's a certain nostalgia that Inside Out evokes; you're reminded of how you felt about an event more than the event itself. For that reason, the actor's personal connection to the film might seem familiar to many adults who might watch it.
One of the things about the film that stood out is how it kind of took me back to being young and the overpowering, overwhelming sensations that these emotions can bring to a little body. That’s one of the things I think parents will have a new understanding when these emotions explode - so maybe a better understanding of what’s going on in the minds of the little ones.
The greatest thing about interviewing the actors and crew behind this film, in my opinion, was the sheer amount of excitement you could hear in them. The press conference itself electrified with the cast's chemistry, and that echoed during our interview (which Maclachlan started off really well, playing off my enthusiasm with a quick joke: "Well, it seems like Joy is in control today!").
There's passion that permeates through the cast and crew, as Maclachlan admitted, "I think Joy still rides in the lead on my console. Joy, with the hashtag 'silliness'! They’re both still the way I see the world.”
Being something of a geek icon and 90's pop culture staple -- my particular favorite 90's turn of his was as the villainous Cliff Vandercave in The Flintstones -- the actor continued his legacy with his role as Cal in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., whose story arc spelled a huge turn for one of the main characters. The actor spoke of his experience on set during the emotional final take of the season. Spoilers ahead!
... it was really difficult to get to that final scene with Chloe when we say goodbye to each other. It was funny, because -- depending on the scene, or the day, or the time, I would work on staying in the moment and letting the emotions simmer along until it was needed, but in this case, the struggle became getting through the scene. It became difficult so speak, so much, at the time that it was almost too much. It was very emotional, I think, on both sides - I don’t think either of us expected the depth to which that relationship went, and it sort of took us by surprise… it certainly took me by surprise, after I signed on, that it’s such a rich and complicated story.
As for whether or not we'll see Cal again, the actor gave the usual, graceful response that continues to leave us guessing. "I was excited that they left the doors slightly open, so it really will depend on the writers and creative minds," said Maclachlan. "If they feel that there is a reason to have Cal return -- we’ve been in no discussions -- so I just don’t know."
While he's arguably had several career-defining roles, the one role that no one can stop talking about is Agent Dale Cooper of Twin Peaks, set to return next year with the series' continuation. "I think it’s kind of an amazing time," he said, keeping mum about what he'll be up to when the series returns, noting that social media seems to have brought die-hard fans and production teams closer together. "It seems like the walls are coming down between the fans and the work."
The highlight of my chat with Maclachlan came during a rather silly question in reference to the film. One of my favorite moments in the movie is the reveal of different "islands" produced by core memories that reflect on things that are important to Riley, like friendship, family, and hockey. When I asked Maclachlan about it, he practically gave me a tour of his dream vacation, and it was as endearing as you might imagine.
There would be golf island - where I spent time with my dad when I was young, I worked on a golf course over the summer…
... there would probably be theater-slash-music island, where the creative stuff happens, and that’s where I first started developing my interest in acting and being on stage...
Later in life I developed wine island… that didn’t start until late teens, so that one became very important for a creative outlet and making wine.
[laughs] There’s have to be amusement park island, because I grew up going to Disneyland and riding go-karts, so that’s a core memory for me…
and then probably Ocean Island. When I was little I’d visit the ocean a lot. My grandparents lived by the ocean, so that’s a big memory for me.
While Riley and her colorful emotions are the setting and leads of Inside Out, the effects that Riley's parents have on her (and in one hilarious scene, the effects she has on their emotions) ripple throughout the film. Inside Out is as much about strengthening family as it is about growing up. Maclachlan, a father himself, was deeply invested in that aspect of the story:
I just think a lot of patience is a good thing. And earlier today, I was speaking about the need to be present around your children, and the necessity really, to let them kind of dictate when they’re ready to open up about something as opposed to having the expectation that it’s gonna happen at the dinner table or the couch - it happens when they’re ready, at the most unusual times, it’s just gonna pop out of their brains and I think being aware of that, being receptive to that, and being available to drop everything you’re doing to focus on them is kind of what guides me.
Much like the film and the rest of the cast, Kyle Maclachlan was enthusiastic and truly in love with Pixar's latest hit, and for extremely good reason. The film is out now in theaters, and you can check out my review for it here. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to figure out where "Wine Island" is in relation to where I am right now.