TV & Film

EXCLUSIVE: Amy Poehler called on her own awkward teenage experiences for Inside Out 2

The comedian is back in the recording booth to lend her voice to the effervescent Joy in Disney's Inside Out 2.

After nine long years, Joy, Anger, Sadness, Disgust, Fear and a few other friends will be back on our screens on June 13 for Disney Pixar’s Inside Out 2.

Returning to voice the effervescent Joy is comedian, writer and actress Amy Poehler who sat down with The Weekly to chat about returning to the role. 

In Inside Out 2, Riley is now 13 years old and standing on the precipice of adolescence. The original five feelings of childhood soon learn they’re about to have company in the form of Anxiety, Envy, Ennui and Embarrassment.

“We’ve all been there, right?” Amy tells The Weekly, recalling her own universal teenage experiences. “We’re talking to the cool girl and we don’t know what voice to use and we say something weird and you can hear the sound of your own voice in your head and then you’re stuck there forever.”

Amy Poehler says she leaned on some universal experiences of teenage awkwardness to prepare for Inside Out 2. © 2024 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

“There’s a lot of really funny moments where Riley is kind of ‘out of her body’ – that does not go away. It’s really funny how they play it, she just can’t figure out how to actually be in the world.”

“I relate, I still relate. There’s really no worse thing than having a personality hangover and you don’t have to be a teenager to have one!”

And whilst there are some light-hearted moments of the movie, just like the first instalment, Inside Out 2 tackles some majorly complex emotional topics as Riley makes the universal transition from childhood to adolescence. 

In the nine years between the film’s initial release and the sequel, conversations around mental health have continued to evolve, particularly surrounding teenagers’ mental wellbeing. This was aptly tackled with the introduction of Anxiety, a character that gives much-needed visibility to such a ubiquitous emotion.

“Disney and Pixar take teenage feelings very seriously; they do a lot of research,” Amy tells The Weekly. 

Between the two films, Amy’s two children, who she shares with ex Will Arnett, have themselves made this leap into adolescence – something she said that she bonded over with Inside Out director Kelsey Mann.

“Kelsey Mann the director is raising young kids as we speak and we talked a lot about that feeling that never goes away when you start asking ‘Am I a good friend?’ ‘What do I care about?’ ‘Am I a person that steals or lies?’.”

The original emotions will be joined by new teenage emotions such as Embarrassment, Anxiety, Envy and Ennui. © 2024 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

“There’s a lot of stuff to figure out then and you start imprinting these big beliefs. In Inside Out 2, Pixar created this belief system. Riley has a belief system and they’re almost like harp strings and they’re played to tell us who she is and then Anxiety arrives and kind of screws up the system.”

But it wasn’t just her own experience raising two teenagers that helped Amy prepare to play Joy again. She also told The Weekly that she often calls on her own joy-filled moments in order to channel the vivacious character of Joy in the film.

“I have so many [moments] that I can think of, they feel kind of small. I think some kind of peaceful setting, I love the beach, with my family and maybe the sound of laughing or I’m taking a nap, something that’s quiet”

“I’ve had a lot of big, celebratory, public things but for me I would say my ‘Joy’ moments are a bit quiet and a bit more personal…” “Oh, and kissing George Clooney!” she adds, laughing.

As with most Pixar films, Inside Out has garnered a dedicated online fanbase who have been eagerly awaiting the second instalment of the film. In particular, die-hard fans are keen to see whether Riley’s beloved invisible friend ‘Bing Bong’ is set to make a cameo. 

Whilst we’ll have to wait until the film is out in cinemas to know for sure, in the meantime, we asked Amy if she ever had her own imaginary friend growing up.

“I did not have an imaginary friend,” she says. “I definitely loved to play but I was a little kid who pretended to be the secretary and the teacher, I liked acting like an adult. I didn’t have an imaginary friend but I did have a little brother who I put through the ringer and I would make him do things and make him play a bunch of characters. But it’s never too late!”

Inside Out 2 is out in cinemas on June 13th.

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