John Lasseter has always been the face of Pixar for me.
I love that he's been so front-and-center since the early days of the company, and as we discuss in this interview, it's led to some interesting responses from children who now recognize Lasseter completely and immediately.
He's a busy man by any standards, and it felt to me like it was important to him to actually be hands-on and directing again, even if it's just one movie every decade or so. The world of "Cars" is probably the most personal of all the Pixar worlds, and so I set aside my skeptical adult screenwriter hat for a while and, instead of trying to put Lasseter on the defensive about the internal logic of the world, I decided just to try to understand his enthusiasm for the world and the characters.
And enthusiasm is one of the words that immediately springs to mind when talking to the man who now runs Pixar, Walt Disney Feature Animation, Disney Imagineering, and I'm pretty sure hand-makes every pretzel sold in every Disney park every day. How he keeps his focus during each of those tasks and manages to make a feature film in the meantime is sort of mind-boggling, but while I was watching him during the press day, I never saw him impatiently checking his phone or multi-tasking between interviews. He projects this air of being very relaxed and comfortable, and he seemed really excited to have people checking the movie out finally.
It's tough when you're a dad and you end up working on Father's Day, but at least I got to share part of it with the guy who fathered Pixar and who has always built his own philosophies, formed by raising five sons of his own, into the way he runs his business and the way he makes his films, and it was worth it for the conversation and to see up close just how much these movies mean to him.
"Cars 2" opens in theaters and IMAX everywhere June 24, 2011.