Do you spend a lot of time pondering the logistics of the Cars universe? While the filmmakers at Pixar have never addressed most of the burning questions surrounding these films, the writing team for the latest installment, Cars 3, did! The full interview can be found on Slash Film, along with plenty more excellent content on the film and its development.
These interviews are always great fun to read, allowing glimpses into Pixar’s story process and giving fans the opportunity to gain insight into each stage of production. They always prove to be illuminating, and we’re grateful whenever the directors, animators, and writers share behind the scenes facts. And hearing from our favorite Pixarians just sweetens the deal!
The Cars 3 writing team includes everyone’s favorite versatile Pixar voice, Bob Peterson, story supervisor Scott Morse, Mike Rich (credits include Finding Forrester, The Rookie, and Secretariat), and Keil Murray.
Below are excerpts from the interview.
Slash Film: So was it always a Lightning McQueen comeback story where he has to find himself as the world changes around him?
Kiel: I think comeback came with [Mike].
Mike: Yeah, it did come with me. It was always McQueen searching for himself, because he’s confronted with that first moment where he’s going “Oh my gosh, I can’t do this forever. I don’t want to retire. I do want to come back. I want to stay competitive.” But he just didn’t know how to get to the answer of that question. Worse yet, he was making the mistake of just trying to do it just like the [younger racers]. “I’ll get fast again. I’ll do what they’re doing. And I’ll be fine.”
Scott: He’s looking outward and not inward for the answers.
Bob: Mike, you had a one sentence sort of summation which is interesting, in reference to comeuppance, which was “life worth living.”
Mike: Oh, yeah. It’s just kind of a theme of a life worth living is a life that’s constantly evolving. And if you stop or just try and look back, or worse yet, try to go back, then it’s not a recipe for happiness.
Bob: We’ve seen a lot of comeback stories, so we strive to make an emotional and unique one that you may not expect.
On whether the new generation of hot shot racers who threaten Lightning McQueen was at all mirrored at Pixar:
Bob: No, we’re very nurturing and accepting of these young people coming in. Like I always say, there’s no way as a story editor I’d get hired now. You hope that they’re much better. We embrace the technology and all that. The trick for us is to not feel threatened and to welcome in this young crop of kids who have such a developed sense of art and cinema. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s not quite so much what we used to guide us in this film. It mainly grows out of McQueen unable to accept the truth that he’s a little older and obsolete and the rest of the world reminding him of that and forcing him to deal with it. So you want a nice crop of very young cars who are fast and very contrasted to him. Even Cruz, who’s with him, is very technological and is fast, and is just different. He’s from an older generation, and it’s all gotta point him into learning what he needs to learn. So that’s why they’re there, to really throw him off balance.
Finally, how are cars born in the films?! Is there religion in the Cars universe? Bob Peterson offers a very simple and succinct answer.
Bob: Luckily we get to spend our time thinking about these stories which are very much universal human stories, and if we find ourselves pondering this kind of stuff, then we’re probably not doing our job very well.
North America, get ready to gear up! Cars 3 opens nationwide on June 16th.