'Inside Out' star Amy Poehler: 'Pixar does a great job in not condescending to their audience'

Amy Poehler stars in 'Inside Out' as the voice of 'Joy,' an emotion living inside an 11-year-old girl named Riley. The film also stars Phyllis Smith, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling, and Lewis Black.

'Inside Out' stars Amy Poehler.

Actress Amy Poehler often plays upbeat characters, but the comedian brims with pep in Pixar's animated film "Inside Out" as Joy, an emotion living inside an 11-year-old girl named Riley.

When Riley moves to a new city, Joy teams up with Sadness to boost Riley's well-being.

Ahead of the film's Friday debut, Poehler, 43, said "Inside Out" let her cultivate her comedic talent. Below are interview excerpts.

Q: How did you develop a character out of an abstract idea?

A: "When you're doing any kind of comedic performance, you have to figure out, what are the rules of this character? Joy has very specific rules: Keep going, stay positive, stay in the moment, don't overthink it. She does that because she has fear that things are going to turn sad. It was fun to play a character that had an arc. Suddenly Joy's crying halfway through the movie.

Pixar does a great job in always not condescending to their audience. They don't make 'kids' movies.' I love their brave attempt to go in, when a lot of movies these days are about external disasters and fabricated bad guys. Pixar decided, we're going to make the setting an 11-year-old girl."

Q: What did you enjoy from the experience?

A: "Pixar is the gold standard. It's like any project, though. Does the project come from an authentic place? Is there a person with a really specific voice at the helm? Are you working with talented people who like to collaborate? All those boxes were checked."

Q: What's the connection to Smart Girls, your website and video series that emphasize women's empowerment?

A: "Smart Girls is a sneaky attempt to be an antidote to some of the other stuff kids are watching. It's just funny, original content that celebrates that great age in a young girl's life right before she's been confused by all the wonderful things puberty has to offer. It's celebrating this person who's just learning to be herself. As an adult, Smart Girls, for me, is an attempt to get back to that. 'Inside Out' is trying to do that, too."

Q: Is there anything you wish you had been asked?

A: "I don't think enough people have asked me if they think I might be up for a Grammy for the 'Bing Bong' song! I'm hoping that I'll be submitted for Best Live Vocal Performance in an Animated Film about Personified Emotions." 

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