When it comes to Lewis Black, asking why he fit the bill perfectly when it came to being the embodiment of anger is something of a rhetorical question. "I don't want to say you were typecast," I started as we sit down in a huge meeting room. Black jumped in with a quick finish to my sentence: "but I was, you know."
This response is less of his signature on-stage irritability and more of a wry joke, but the actor and comedian, known for his hilarious anger and explosive improv, wasn't some kind of soft-spoken sissy just because he's off-stage. When I asked him what makes him angry, he liaid it out pretty plainly:
Stupidity, incompetence where it's not necessary, and ... the fact that we don't, as a people, respond quickly enough -- this really irritates me -- we're always a day late and a dollar short. You know, there's this simple example: a bridge went down in Minneapolis about five years ago, and the next day, every state in the union inspected all of their bridges, as if they'd all forgotten that their bridges existed. We're always a penny smart and a pound foolish.
One of the stand-out qualities of Inside Out's cast, to me, is that they're fans of the artists they collaborated with. Much like other Disney-affiliated production houses, like Lucasfilm, Pixar is known for employing fans in an effort to make quality material thanks to people who genuinely love the studio's work. Like most of the cast, the Pixar legacy attracted Black to the film, which is much more kid-friendly than most of his resumé.
It's kind of an amazing experience. But I had no idea how amazing... you know, it's like a dream, really; I mean, for example ... Robin Williams asked me to do 'Man of the Year' with him, so it feels kind of like that, where I'm working with people that I respect, who have done work that I admire a lot.
The production crew of Inside Out collaborated heavily to bring about a true and honest character in Riley (both inside, and out), but admittedly, none of them were 11-year-old girls. The same can be said for Black, who admitted that Anger was entirely him, and not him attempting to portray a young girl's thought process. "I said, if you're perverted enough to make a 66-year-old man the voice of anger in a young girl - you know, that's on you!"
If you're curious, it worked out great. Anger plays a major part in Riley's headstrong personality, and his part in the process brings about the authentic frustration of a young girl in her situation. His scenes in the control room are some of the best, and his aggressive nature even helps Riley out when it comes to playing Hockey.
When Anger is directed out of Riley, then it's me when I'm on stage. But when Anger is within the group, that's me on my own time... I'm a person in a room with other people. Not psychotic, that's for stage - so he's just like, "people! Let's get this thing going," and that's where the nuance came from.
There's been a good deal of talk around how this movie might affect children, and if it might actually help them out emotionally. The actor opened up a little about his own childhood in response. "I've said this in a lot of interviews, but I wish I'd seen this movie as a kid," I think seeing emotions in this way - you know, as beings - I think it's important and that kids might... you know, understand what's going on a little easier."
Speaking of childhood, Black kindly shared his first curse word as we wrapped: "You know... it was probably 'shit'."
That, my friends, is an exclusive.