Meet The Characters of Pixar’s Soul
With only a few days to go until December 25th, we thought you’d want to meet some of the awesome folks you’ll be hanging out with this holiday season – from Pixar’s Soul of course!
Pixar’s 23rd animated feature will make its debut on Disney+ on Christmas Day. Like all of pictures incredible films, its all about the characters. The story hails from the minds of director and screenwriter Pete Doctor, co-director and screenwriter kemp powers and screenwriter Mike Jones. An all-star cast has been assembled for this incredible production. So let’s take a moment to meet the cast and characters!
Joe Gardner (voice of Jamie Foxx)
Let’s start with the protagonist. Since childhood, Joe has dreamed of being a professional jazz musician. However at the moment he’s a middle-aged, middle-school band teacher. But that hasn’t stopped him from dreaming. It looks like is dreams are about to come true when he gets the opportunity to play in jazz legend Dorothea Williams’ quartet. However, one fateful misstep sends Joe to The Great Before – a place where souls get their interests, personalities and quirks before going to Earth. Can Joe return to Earth to fulfill his dreams?
22 (Voice of Tina Fey)
Tina Fey voices the precocious soul 22. She’s spent hundreds of years at the You Seminar where new souls must meet several requirements before getting the go-ahead to go to Earth. But 22 has never been interested in life on Earth anyway. Fey says of the character, “When 22 is sarcastic or skeptical of something, it’s really because she’s so afraid of it.” She continues, “She needs to open her mind up to possibilities and push past her fear. I think that’s something I can relate to and I think hopefully a lot of viewers of the movie will relate to.”
Libba Gardner (voice of Phylicia Rashad)
Joe’s number one fan is his mom Libba Gardner. She’s also not afraid to tell him the truth. Libba owned a successful tailor shop in Queens for decades and was the primary breadwinner for her family (her husband was also a struggling musician.) She knows first hand that life in the arts can be unstable and encourages Joe to always have a back-up plan. But she ultimately hopes that he finds his spark. “Just because you push somebody to follow their dream, that doesn’t mean you’re not giving them a gut check,” says Rashad. “Sometimes that’s a real gut check, to tell somebody to follow that dream—to tell them to dare to be bold enough to believe in it.”
Dorothea Williams (voice of Angela Bassett)
Angela Bassett plays a world-renowned jazz legend. A master saxophone player she exudes confidence both on and off the stage. She gives Joe the opportunity he’s be dreaming of by inviting him to join her quartet for a performance at The Half Note Jazz Club in New York City. “She’s the gatekeeper of her own excellence,” says Bassett. “She’s the gatekeeper of all that she’s built. And she takes it very, very seriously. So, of course, she’s gonna approach the music with that same degree of excellence and passion.”
Moonwind (voice of Graham Norton)
Here’s a character I can’t wait to meet! All Moonwind needs is a street corner sign to twirl and then he’s able to head off to a mystical magical place call The Astral Plane. According to Murray, He was once a lost soul himself when he spent too much time playing video games. But he left that life behind to seek true meaning as part of a group called Mystics Without Borders. They find souls lost in dream fields and help them reconnect with their bodies.” Television host Norton “delivers a great level of intensity,” adds animation supervisor Jude Brownbill, “and you want to put that in both his Earth form and when we see him in The Astral Plane.”
The Counselors (voices of Richard Ayoade, Alice Braga, Fortune Feimster, Zenobia Shroff, and Wes Studi)
The Counselors all have the same name. Wait for it… JERRY! Joe runs into them at the You Seminar where they shepherd in the new souls before they are sent to earth. We figured if the souls just ran around amok, no one would ever leave,” says Docter. “It was just be bedlam up there. They need a little bit of steering, so the universe kind of dumbs itself down in some form that we wanted to look not like another soul and not like a person from Earth.” So how can you tell all these Jerrys apart? Each one apparently is a unique expression of the universe both positive and negative!
Terry (voice of Rachel House)
That brings us to Terry. This Jerry with a “T” has the very specific job of keeping track of entrants to The Great Beyond. She can be a tad bit obsessive about her job especially when it comes to “The Count.” When Joe takes a detour to The Great Before, Terry struggles to figure out why the tally is off making her what Dana Murray calls “The Perfect Antagonist.”
Curley (voice of Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson)
Curley, who happens to be one of Joe’s former students now serves as drummer for Dorothea Williams’ jazz quartet. Its Curley that suggests Joe would be the perfect candidate to fill a last-minute vacancy for a piano player. Not only did Questlove serves voice Curley but he also served as a cultural and musical consultant on the film. “One of my proudest moments with being involved in this entire production was that they came to me asking for music advice. My answer, as I do with anyone, is I make playlists,” he says. “I made them a bunch of playlists of songs I felt would be played in the background.”
Dez (voice of Donnell Rawlings)
Dez the barber is a great listener. Dez lets his clients (including Joe) talk about whatever they want. For Joe its jazz. “He’s a comedian,” Murray says of Rawlings. “We loved his voice—the grittiness. It fit really well with the character design.”
Paul (Voice of Daveed Diggs)
And last but not least is Paul voiced by Daveed Diggs (Hamilton). He has the distinction of being the neighborhood cynic saying something negative or sarcastic whenever he enters the office. Though most just tune him out, Joe always remains one of Paul’s top targets. Not only did Diggs bring Paul to life but he also served as a cultural consultant for the film. “I was one of many people who came to see the early versions of the film and give my thoughts,” recalls Diggs. “They had long discussions, and every word would get written down; follow-up questions would be asked. It was really impressive to see the care with which they tried to craft this piece and to make sure that they heard from a wide variety of people.”
Don’t miss your chance to see Pixar’s Soul when it comes out on Disney+ Christmas Day (December 25th.)
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