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June 23, 2018   |   Written by Jessica Zack

Article taken from The New York Times.

It’s been 14 years since we first met the animated Parr family, suburban superheroes in hiding, trying to keep their powers under wraps in the first “Incredibles.” After picking up a 2004 Oscar and becoming one of the most beloved (and successful) movies in Pixar history, the franchise returns with “Incredibles 2,” featuring a voice cast of veterans — Holly Hunter (Helen/Elastigirl) and Craig T. Nelson (Bob/Mr. Incredible) — and newcomers to the Pixar universe, including Bob Odenkirk from “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” as Winston Deavor, a telecom millionaire who wants to reinstate supers to their lawful place in society.

Hunter and Odenkirk each spoke by phone on the eve of the new movie’s release — which earned $180 million its opening weekend, setting an animated-film record.

Q: Brad Bird has said that when he wrote the first “Incredibles,” he already had a sequel in mind that would feature Elastigirl. Did you know that for the past 14 years too?

A: It’s so funny, because I think Brad mentioned that, but people may or may not know that we don’t work from a script. We didn’t with either movie. No storyboards either. It’s just Brad standing in a room telling you what’s going to happen. He’ll say, “OK, this is a big chase scene,” or “Now you’re piloting a plane.” So he had mentioned this role reversal, but it wasn’t until we’d been recording (“Incredibles 2”) for about six months that I went, “Brad! I have such a great part!”

Q: So you’re never in the room with the other voice actors?

A: This is a weird thing to say, but Craig T. Nelson and I met each other for the first time about eight months ago. We never even met during the release of the first movie.

Q: You’ve said in interviews that one of the downsides for a woman in Hollywood with a lengthy career like yours is that eventually you’re only offered mom parts. I’m guessing you didn’t feel that way about this one.

A: Well, I’ve actually played mothers from the absolute beginning. The first major role I ever got was someone wanting to be a mother and kidnapping a baby (in “Raising Arizona”). Having said that, it’s a revelation to see Elastigirl in this with a persona that has nothing at all to do with motherhood. We get to see her revel in leaving the domestic behind and implicitly trusting Mr. Incredible can handle it.

Q: How important does the timing of this feel, releasing a movie that flips gender roles?

A: The movie dovetails into this #MeToo moment in a great way, but people just want to see complete human beings reflected in movies, because that’s what life is. Plenty of people are raised by their fathers. Plenty of people see their mothers being autonomous, professional women, and being heroes.

Q: This is your first time in the Pixar universe. What impressed you most?

A: Brad Bird was somehow able to make something that’s satisfying as a pure action movie but also as a family comedy, and to interweave those two stories in a way that neither of them is shortchanged. It’s not easy to do either of those things well, but to have them both work together is just masterful.

Q: Your character, Winston Deavor, is a quintessential salesman and a likable billionaire. Were you thinking of anyone in particular?

A: I’ve never met Ted Turner, but Brad has and said Ted is an expansive, upbeat guy who gets you on board with whatever he’s talking about. That was a great thing to picture in my mind.

I’ve played a lot of guys who are duplicitous salesmen. They’re users. (Deavor) may appear at first to be running a game on people, but the more you get to know him, the more you suspect he means everything he says. He’s got an innocence about him which I love.

Q: There’s been a lot of discussion about how perfectly suited the movie is, with its focus on Elastigirl’s heroics, to this #MeToo moment.

A: To me, the story of the (villain) Screenslaver is the most zeitgeisty. It’s a touchstone to our current culture of people gazing into their screens and maybe being misled by what they’re seeing and kind of hypnotized.

The woman empowerment thing is decades in the making, and we’re in the middle of the process of righting it. It’s great if this movie can be a part of that progress. I definitely think it passes the Bechdel test. How about that scene with Evelyn (voiced by Catherine Keener) and Elastigirl talking to each other? Leaving aside that one’s the main superhero in a cartoon, it’s two women having a deep, challenging multisided conversation. People should point to that scene as progress. I don’t know if I saw anything in “Wonder Woman” that rose to that level of maturity and complexity.

Q: I want to ask you one question about playing journalist and UC Berkeley Professor Ben Bagdikian in Spielberg’s “The Post,” and what it meant to you, especially making the movie at such a crucial time in this country for freedom of the press and the need for facts and accountability.

A: It was a great honor to play Ben Bagdikian. I never met him, but I love that guy and his story. I think journalism is a very high and worthy calling, so I like to do projects that build up the people who pursue those ideals, and Ben was certainly one of them.

David Carr (the New York Times reporter who died in 2015) was another. I’m trying to get his “Night of the Gun” story made for FX.

I don’t know if Ben and David ever met, but they certainly would have hit it off, big-time. They were both tough-minded, high-standards renegade guys.

Q: Back to “Incredibles 2,” if you could have any superpower, what would it be?

A: Catherine Keener and I were talking about this, and she came up with the best one. It’s this: Wherever you are in the world, you say “home” and you’re home.

Q: Like a home button for your life?

A: Yeah. We’re not asking for the moon here.

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