'Inside Out 2' Canadian artists on hockey scenes, teenage anxiety and getting emotional crafting the film

"That transition from 12 to 13 is just so powerful, and it seems to really stick in people's minds so much," Rebecca McVeigh said

When the first Inside Out movie was released in 2015, the Pixar film was deeply emotional for many people in the audience. Now Amy Poehler and Lewis Black are back to voice their animated characters Joy and Anger in Inside Out 2, along with Maya Hawke as Anxiety and Ayo Edebiri as Envy, exploring new emotions with 13-year-old Riley (voice by Kensington Tallman).

Canada should be particularly proud of Inside Out 2 with a number of Canadian artists responsible for creating this animated movie. For story supervisor John Hoffman, from Calgary, Alta., there was a specific Canadian touch in Inside Out 2 that meant a lot to him.

"Being a Canadian and getting to draw characters playing hockey, I never thought I'd get to do that in an animated film," Hoffman told Yahoo Canada. "The fact that I got to do that was pretty cool. ... I'm pretty lucky."

INSIDE OUT 2 - FEELING ENVY – In Disney and Pixar’s “Inside Out 2,” Envy may be small, but she sure knows what she wants. She’s perpetually jealous of everything everyone else has, and she’s not afraid to pine over it. Envy’s wishful thinking and fascination with the newest, coolest thing pulls her attention in all directions and longs for what Riley doesn’t have. Featuring Ayo Edebiri as the voice of Envy, “Inside Out 2” releases only in theatres June 14, 2024. (Pixar)

In Inside Out 2, hockey-loving Riley has transitioned into the beginning of teenage-hood and puberty, which means new emotions have arrived at headquarters: Anxiety (Hawke), Envy (Edebiri), Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), and Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser).

Hoffman revealed that there were a few other emotions that could have been included in Inside Out 2, but were ultimate put aside.

"I think four other emotions were part of the movie in an early, much earlier, version that we ended up cutting," Hoffman said. "A couple of them were like, 'Oh this is a really funny joke, but we literally have nothing else that we can do with this character,' ... maybe in service of the story we need to get rid of them."

"So it was just kind of finding those right emotions for teenage Riley, right at this moment in time, that would be the most useful for telling the story that we wanted to tell."

Inside Out 2 is also the first Pixar project with a majority women story team, which story artist Rebecca McVeigh (from Toronto) described as a "blessing" to be a part of for this movie.

"One of my favourite memories from working on the film was [when] myself and a bunch of other women, not just in story, but across departments, all sat down in a room and just sort of talked about what we remembered of being 13, and it was pretty wild," Mcveigh said. "There were so many commonalities."

"There were a few notes that we kept revisiting and I think in doing that we sort of realized, oh those are the things that we'd be able to talk about and have everyone understand. It was pretty incredible that not only ... the women in the room felt a deep connection to this film, but I was ... happy that all of the men kind of got it too. ... I think teenagers just go through something, that transition from 12 to 13 is just so powerful, and it seems to really stick in people's minds so much. People have a really strong reaction to any kind of storytelling around that time."

Anxiety was an emotion that Mcveigh found particularly "liberating" to explore in this film.

"I think it was actually kind of surprisingly fun to try to revisit 13-year-old emotions, and anxiety was definitely a big part of my 13-year-old self," Mcveigh said.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 10: Maya Hawke attends the World Premiere of Disney and Pixar's
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 10: Maya Hawke attends the World Premiere of Disney and Pixar's "Inside Out 2" at El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California on June 10, 2024. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney/Pixar)

The original Inside Out has the reputation of being a particularly impactful tearjerker, providing a window into emotions that each viewers is feeling, and Inside Out 2 had a similar impact for the team working on this new film.

"We've heard a lot of stories about how the first one ended up helping people communicate with their kids, and kids [being able] to talk about the emotions they were feeling because of what the first movie did," Hoffman highlighted.

"Something I noticed on this movie that I haven't necessarily on others is I did find myself getting choked up when I was drawing certain things and certain moments. And I sort of was going, 'OK that's interesting. That hasn't happened before. I think we might be tapping into something.' And then it's finding that little spark of emotion that you're feeling when you're drawing it, and then trying to navigate it through the filmmaking process so that you can land it and get it in the movie."

Inside Out quickly became part of the movement to make animated films that can impact both children and adults with particularly resonant and robust storytelling, which is something that continued into the creation of the second film.

"Honestly, the fact that we make movies for children doesn't come up very much, we are just interested in entertaining ourselves," Mcveigh said. "I think if you know that you can make a movie that resonates with you, you can sort of expect it to resonate with other people."

"So we make films for general audiences in the realest sense. I want anybody to be able to watch this movie and understand the emotional through line, whether that's a 90-year-old or a 10-year-old."