A basketball player’s body – 1.95 meters; cowboy’s head Toy Story of which he participated in the writing of the screenplay, barely out of school; and a disarming wave of the hand: the multi-Oscar-winning director (up there, Vice versa) Pete Docter is here to Elementary, by Peter Sohn, in theaters on Wednesday June 21 and presented at the close of the Cannes Film Festival. It is the latest from the American animation studio Pixar, of which he became artistic director five years ago.
You were very close to John Lasseter who was the thinking head of Pixar – he was even your wedding witness. How did you react when he admitted, in 2017, in the wake of the Weinstein affair, to having had inappropriate behavior, which led to his resignation after a public apology?
It was very hard, very complicated. I had a few conversations with him. The man brought so much to animated film, to Pixar in particular… But we were like a rock band, from the first Toy Story, in 1995, Andrew Stanton, Joe Ranft, Lee Unkrich, and myself, we were there, we knew what kind of music we were going to play. It was organic, we barely needed to talk to each other. If I was directing a film, John and Andrew would support me and if Andrew was directing, for The world of Nemo for example, we helped him. In general, one of us worked out a project, then the others looked at it and multiplied the criticisms: that’s missing here, we don’t understand that there. With this affair, the group exploded.
You wondered at the time if you would be able to take his place. Do you have the answer today?
No, I’m still wondering. For me, the biggest challenge is knowing how to do the best with the artists, because it is their voice that needs to be hatched, it is what speaks in the films. To be honest, we still work the same way, but it’s a new band, a new version of Pixar.
Do you miss not making movies anymore?
Of course I miss it. Anyway, I hope it’s not a one-way street, I’m hopeful that one day I’ll be able to do it again… Now, five years later, I can say that I’ve discovered unexpected joys there. To be able to support the directors, to see that my advice can put them on the right path, help solve a problem… Some ask to be supervised, others require a free hand… But the truth is that each of us needs the help of others.
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