Q & A with Directing Animator of Wall-E, Angus MacLane
Q: The making of Wall-e was a long time coming because the idea was first mentioned in 1992?
ANGUS MACLANE: They had this idea and it sat on the shelf till Andrew said he wanted to have a go at it. So from the first idea to the film it has been a long process. But I don’t think we would have been
ready to have made this film earlier, just from a production standpoint.
Q: How did you make us care about a lump of metal?
ANGUS MACLANE: It’s about making the movie about something….this movie is about love, it’s about Wall-E’s quest for the meaning of his life, which it turns out is to save the planet. He does his job, goes
home and watches TV – like a regular guy – but there is something missing. We looked at a lot of classic science fiction and what makes it work and in every case there was the fantastic of the future with
the relatable story of something from our world. In this movie we tried not to make people in robot suits. It’s like how for Finding Nemo we studied fish movement and applied that and kept reminding the
audience that we were underwater by flicking a tail fin or whatever. For this movie we studied mechanisms and hydraulics and what makes robots move. A lot of it was taking one idea at a time, like how Wall-
e moves his head and then making the ideas more complex. But we always reminded the audience that he was a machine.
Q: Was there a bit of the look of Silent Running in the film?
ANGUS MACLANE: That level of stylisation was certainly an influence. But not more than the idea. We love films at Pixar and we looked at what stories and ideas worked and from that we try to make a movie
that we like and with storytelling ideas that work. We were always refining the story and Andrew [Stanton] was very specific that everything was there for a reason. Everything means something.
Q: People are saying that watching Wall-e they forget they are watching a cartoon.
ANGUS MACLANE: I’ve heard that too! It’s a weird thing to hear because it implies that if it is a cartoon then it is not legitimate. But I know what they mean.
Q: Isn’t it amazing that Wall-e achieves changes in tone without interrupting the flow of the film?
ANGUS MACLANE: That was a challenge! The secret was that it is the story of Wall-e and EVE and the introduction of the Captain is taken from Wall-e’s point of view when he falls into the Captain’s cabin.
Very seldom do we separate from them. They always have to be in the room, it’s that kind of feeling. You cut away from them because there are other story elements that have to be told, but ultimately it is
the story of their relationship.
Q: Throughout the film tears are not far away?
ANGUS MACLANE: There are two or three solid moments…especially the ending.
Q: Who in the team is the big fan of Hello Dolly?
ANGUS MACLANE: I think that Andrew was in Hello Dolly at high school. But it wasn’t that he was a big fan of it, it was that he thought that it would be an amazing contrast to show space and then hear this
very stylised show tune. I think he would say that Wall-e has terrible taste in movies – so his fascination was with Hello Dolly. When we were making the movie we wondered whether we show go and see Hello Dolly. I was in Hello Dolly as well at high school – I played the Walter Matthau character – so I got it right away. I was pleased that they didn’t pick some of the more sexist songs. But it was so wild to hear that [songs featured in Wall-e] and I am still very good friends with the guy who played the Michael Crawford character at high school. I can’t wait till he sees the film.
Q: Is this the first Pixar movie to feature live action?
ANGUS MACLANE: It is. We had NASA researchers tell us what would happen if you went into space for a long time. So we felt that because things were changing so much that he past would be represented by live action with the scenes from Hello Dolly and with Fred Willard as the President. That was the intent.
Q: The film makes statements about many issues like the dangers of consumerism and destroying the planet.
ANGUS MACLANE: It is a post-apocalyptic story and usually in those stories, like The Omega Man, it is a virus or a nuclear blast that has struck. It is almost like a genre convention of a sci fi movie. So it was not as if we wanted to make this big message. This was just what had happened and you could draw your own conclusions.
Q: How was the design of EVE decided upon?
ANGUS MACLANE: EVE was meant to be the antithesis of Wall-e. Wall-e came first and he was very much a boxy character while EVE was the opposite in every way…she is slick, rounded with nice curves and she
has a motion that might be described like being that of a space manatee. When she is flying her flight is very similar to the flying in Peter Pan which is some of the best flying ever represented. We tried to put that into EVE. But she has an interior that is very technical, we see that there are lights inside and bolts and nuts.
Whereas Wall-e is sort of inside out, we see his wheels and bolts. So EVE came out of design…Wall-e is like a bulldozer, EVE is more like an Ipod.
Q: At times Wall-e reminds you of a much-loved pet dog.
ANGUS MACLANE: We tried to achieve that he was emoting. It is like when you see Luxo Jr you read a face on to that lamp. In Wall-e you see him as charming. It taps into the idea of character. It all benefits from simplicity and the context of the story.
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, a recognized leader in the home entertainment industry, is the marketing, sales and distribution company for Walt Disney, Touchstone, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax and Buena Vista product, which includes DVD, Blu-ray Disc® and electronic distribution. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is a division of The Walt Disney Studios.
Pixar Animation Studios, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is an Academy Award®-winning film studio with world-renowned technical, creative and production capabilities in the art of computer animation. Creator of some of the most successful and beloved animated films of all time, including Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, and most recently, WALL•E. The Northern California studio has won 21 Academy Awards® and its nine films have grossed more than $4.5 billion at the worldwide box office to date. The next film release from Disney•Pixar is UP (May 29, 2009).