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On the red carpet at the "Cars" premiere

On the red carpet at the "Cars" premiere

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John Lasseter
Director of "Cars"

Q: I know you're a huge fan of Hayao Miyazaki. Is the Fiat 500 named Luigi a reference to Miyazaki-san's film ("The Castle of Cagliostro")?

A: No, it's not a reference to it, though I love "Lupin the 3rd: Castle of Cagliostro." I love that film. But his movies mean so much to me, he's a filmmaker and he's great.

Photo by Marie Yuen

Q: It has to be incredible knowing that all these Pixar films are going to be seen and loved by your grandchildren's grandchildren. Do you think about that?

A: Nancy Lasseter -- my wife who is standing right next to me -- said to me a long time ago, when I was making "Toy Story" : "Make sure you make this movie, not for the first time someone sees it, but for the 100th time someone has to suffer through it on video." And it is so true. We really work to make these movies last a long time. It's not about the technology we use. It's about the story and the characters we use. And I'm very excited about it. I love to entertain my audiences. So that's what it's all about.

Q: When you first get your ideas, which may seem crazy at first to other people, is Nancy your filter? In terms of "This will work, this won't work"?

A: She is. I talk to her a lot about all my projects. I remember pitching her the idea in the bathroom getting ready one morning. And I pitched her the idea for "Toy Story 2," and she went: "Oh yeah. That's a good idea!" With "Cars," honestly, she's not a car-person. And she goes: "Well, you make sure you make this movie for me, your nieces, and all the people out there that are not into racing, not into cars." And I said: "there's people like that?" Because I'm really into cars. And all through the making of this movie we have the "Nancy Factor." Which really said: "get away from just the detail of the cars." And it's about the story and the characters. And that's what it's about.

Nancy Lasseter
Photo by Marie Yuen

Q: Has she shot down any ideas that were just too crazy to make?

A: No, because she questions them, and I have to kind of work to support them, and then I finally win her over. But she helps make them better.

Larry the Cable Guy
Voice of Mater

Photo by Marie Yuen

Q: Mater seems like a fun guy. I love the big buck-teeth he has, and it gives him his personality.

A: Oh yeah. And the thing is they're wider than my teeth. That's the thing that irritated me.

Q: I've heard a rumor that Mater possibly goes cow-tipping in the movie. Have you ever gone cow-tipping?

A: You know what? I've never done cow-tipping, and we used to have cows. I think that's somethin' that city kids ... We had a cousin that lived in the city. You made him go out and cow-tip. And we got away from the cows.

Owen Wilson
Voice of Lightning McQueen

Photo by Marie Yuen

Q: Knowing that this is a movie that will be seen by your grandkid's grandkids, does this make it more special for you?

A: Yeah, it does. Because the way you phrased (your question) really made me think about it. That'd be a very cool thing. And it does seem like these Pixar movies really enter the culture in a way that movies when we were growing up like, you know, those classic Disney films. It's like Pixar's become that, so that's cool.

Bonnie Hunt
Voice of Sally

Photo by Marie Yuen

Q: Sally seems to love going for drives around Radiator Springs. Is there any place you've enjoyed going to, such as a place to relax?

A: For me, it's being in the garden. But I think that Sally going on that ride through Radiator Springs is kind of symbolic. It's "Take time to slow down and stop and just smell the roses." Whether it's going fishing, or working in the garden. Whatever your Radiator Springs is in your mind, take the time to take a nice slow drive.

Cheech Marin
Voice of Ramone

Photo by Marie Yuen

Q: Now you play Ramone, who runs his own Custom Shop in Radiator Springs. So what was it like when they told you you're going to be playing an Impala who changes his style around?

A: I thought just: "Hey, right up my alley." Must be typecasting. And he's cool. And he goes up and down.

Q: If you could customize yourself, what kind of custom would you be?

A: I would probably be a Bentley, you know. I like to go low, and slow, and cushy. I like a cushy ride.

Tony Shaloub
Voice of Luigi

Photo by Marie Yuen

Q: In the film, Luigi has an Italian accent. Do you happen to know which region of Italy Luigi is from?

A: Yeah, he's from the region of Italy called Green Bay, where I grew up. I don't pretend that it's an authentic Italian accent, but somehow the Pixar people think it's good enough.

Q: Luigi seems like a little car with a big heart. It must have been fun to play a cute little Fiat in the film.

A: Yeah, it was thrilling. They give you so much. You're able to see all these sketches, the world that these characters occupy. They make your job really easy.

Paul Dooley
Voice of Sarge

Q: We hear you play Sarge in "Cars." It must be fun to play an old '41 Willys Jeep.

A: Well I'm an "old Jeep" myself. I mean, I'm the same age as Sarge. He's World War II, and I'm about his age. So it wasn't a stretch for me to play an old person, even an old car. So I enjoyed it and I added a little gravel to my voice. I figured if he's been barking orders at soldiers part of his life, you know. So I gave him a kind of a gravelly quality like that, you know. And it was great fun.

Photo by Marie Yuen

Q: Did you need to do a lot of research into military-type stuff, or did you have that experience before?

A: We've all seen so many military movies, that you know what "Ten-hut!," and "As you were," and "Drop and give me twenty," all that language we've seen. Hundreds of movies about us. So it's in the general public information about how a sergeant would work. He's like a drill instructor, you know.

Paul Dooley & playwright Winnie Holzman
Photo by Marie Yuen

Q: Though it seems that the one guy he can't quite get ahold of is Fillmore, the VW Bus.

A: That's George Carlin, yeah. George and I are at odds with each other. I'm a "spit-and-polish" guy and he's a laid-back hippie that hasn't changed since the 60's.

John Ratzenberger
Voice of Mack

Photo by Marie Yuen

Q: Now I understand that in "Cars," you play the part of Mack?

A: The Mack Truck. Yeah, the Mack Truck that pulls Lightning McQueen around to the races. During one journey, he goes missing. And that's where the story begins.

Q: I heard that your Dad actually drove Mack trucks as well.

A: My Dad drove a red Mack Truck.

Q: Did you imbue some of your Dad into the role of Mack for the film? Any little nuances you remember?

A: No, but John knew that my father drove a Red Mack Truck and that's why he had me voice the red Mack truck.

Q: You seem to be the lucky guy when it comes to Pixar. You're their good luck charm. What's it like being able to be involved with all of these films that have done so well?

A: The amazing thing is that you never hear the phrase "Aw, that's good enough" at Pixar. They always try to out-distance themselves in their work, and they do that consciously. Every film they do, they work as hard as they did on the very first film and it comes out. Wait'll you see this movie. You thought "Finding Nemo" was good? Please.

Dave Foley
Voice of Flik in "A Bug's Life"
Cameo appearance in "Cars" credits sequence

Photo by Marie Yuen

Q: So Dave, we know you've done "A Bug's Life," and we hear that you're involved in "Cars" in some way. Can you tell us what's going on with that?

A: I'm part of a little surprise treat in the credits of the film. You know, Pixar always likes to put something special into their credit sequences. And so I was involved with that for this picture.

Q: Who came up with the idea for it?

A: I'm guessing it was probably John Lasseter. I know that we did it. I guess the first time they did it was on "A Bug's Life" where they did outtakes at the end. Which was something they wanted to do on "Toy Story," but they weren't allowed to do it on 'Toy Story.' But by 'A Bug's Life,' they were allowed to do whatever they wanted, y'know. Naked, if they wanted. So, yes. They always do a little special thing in the credits. And that's part of that.

Q: So was it good to come back and work at Pixar again? It must have been quite a change since you did "A Bug's Life."

A: I always stay in touch with them. We've stayed friends over the years. It was just sort of seeing old friends again, so it was nice.

Michael Wallis
Voice of the Sheriff
Author of "The Art of Cars"

Photo by Marie Yuen

Q: We've just got a little question, because we took a little road trip from Chicago this morning, and were wondering if you've ever heard of "The Chicken Basket?" (EDITOR'S NOTE: "The Chicken Basket" is one of the restaurants near the start of Route 66. Which starts in Chicago, IL)

A: Oh yes. Up in Willowbrook. I know it very well. I've devoured lots of chicken there. The Road is so great in the state of Illinois today. Out of all the states, I always point out that Illinois is leading the 8 Route 66 states in terms of restoration and preservation. Great signage, wonderful ride, yeah.

Q: You play the Sheriff in Radiator Springs. Was that John's (Lasseter's) idea, or did you kind of come up with the idea?

A: I was his consultant. And then I wrote the book about the making of the movie, "The Art of Cars," with my wife. But he said: "you've got to be a character voice in this film. We've got to capture you on film. And don't you think you'd make a great Sheriff?" And I said: "Sure, why not? What's the car?" "1949 Mercury." "Um, it's a done deal." Because it's one of my favorite cars. It's the same kind of car that James Dean had in "Rebel Without a Cause," you know? It's just a Classic. And people tell me that grille on that car looks a little bit like my moustache. Which just a few years ago was pitch black and suddenly it's turned chrome-colored. So I don't know.

Q: You have a very distinctive voice.

A: Yes, and wait til' you see my interaction with Mater. I think you'll get a kick out of that. Mater is one of my favorite characters, and he drives my "Cars" character crazy.

Q: I didn't know that.

A: Oh yes. He's sort of my little nemesis. I'm always after him. But these people that are represented in these cars are actual people from Route 66. And a lot of them are here tonight: Cooks, waitresses, people that I exposed Pixar to. And they took the personailty of these people and it comes out in these cars. That's why this film is so good. That's why it's accurate and true.

Dick Cook
Chairman of Walt Disney Studios

Photo by Marie Yuen

Q: One thing I find wonderful about Pixar is that the technology has not gotten in the way of storytelling like so many special effects movies do.

A: No, the technology never gets in the way of the storytelling. Storytelling comes first. The technology just helps you to tell the story in a more interesting and fun way, and having characters that are able to show this kind of emotion is just sensational.

Q: And obviously, you have very high hopes for the partnership going forward into the future?

A: You know, I think it's been the most successful partnership I think in motion picture history. And now that Pixar is a part of Disney, it just makes it that much better.

Q: It's interesting the way Lasseter's come on board to Disney. Is there any word on 2-D animation coming back to the studios?

A: Well, I think everyone that's there is a real fan of 2-D animation. I think that we're not ready to make any announcements. But I think -- at some point --you could certainly look forward to something in 2-D coming back. You know, it's still great storytelling and characters that matter the most, and I think you might see it.

Q: Since we're also talking about cars, is there a favorite car that you wanted as a kid, or had as a teenager?

A: It was probably my very first car, which was a 1964 Chevy II Nova. It was red, had 3-speed on the column. Maybe it's because it was my first car. It was a used car, several people had owned it. But I just loved that car.

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  • You got to go to the Cars Premiere?  Lucky!
  • Hey, those were some great questions for John.  And wow, what a great-looking shoulder in the foreground of the Nancy picture. ;)
  • I was lucky enough to go to this as well.  We drove up from Florida and stayed with friends.  Two things that stunk was that they weren't allowing cameras or alcohol inside.  I had to dump my beer and couldn't get any good photos.  The one thing I was suprised about was that the movie didn't start until 10:30.  Many of the young kids that were there were sleeping when the movie started.
  • It wasn't like the lateness of the showing was Pixar or Disney's fault.

    While I wasn't lucky enough to be there, numerous accounts I've read about indicate rain added about an hour's delay to the events at the Cars premier.

    These kind of things often happen whenever events are held in the great outdoors.  Mother Nature is funny that way.
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