Everything We Know (So Far) About Pixar's Soul

Four out of Pixar’s last five movies have been sequels, so it’s refreshing to know that the animation studio famous for making adults cry will be bringing us not one, but two original stories next year. The first one, Onward, will star Chris Pratt and Tom Holland as elf brothers living in a suburban world occupied by mythical fantasy creatures who set out to find their long-lost father.

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The second one, Soul, sounds like a companion piece to Inside Out. Rather than personifying our emotions like Inside Out did, Soul will personify, well, our souls. Here is Everything We Know (So Far) About Pixar’s Soul.

10 Inside Out’s Pete Docter Is Directing From His Own Story

Pete Docter and Pixar

Pete Docter, who was recently promoted to chief creative officer at Pixar following John Lasseter’s departure amid a flurry of #MeToo allegations, is directing Soul from his own original story. Docter has served his time at Pixar, proving his abilities as a visual storyteller time and time again. He made his directorial debut with Monsters, Inc., which was a sympathetic, outside-the-box look at the monsters hiding under our beds; then he turned a silly premise (a guy makes his house fly with a bunch of balloons) into a tearjerking masterpiece with Up; and then he brought our emotions to life with Inside Out. So, suffice to say, Soul is in good hands.

9 It’s About The Soul Of A Jazz Musician

The main protagonist of Soul is Joe Gardner, a middle school music teacher who dreams of taking his jazz music to the stage. After wowing the powers that be at an open mic at the Half Note Club (a legendary jazz club in New York), his soul suddenly becomes detached from his body and sent to “the You Seminar,” where all souls learn to be souls before they’re assigned to a human being. There, his soul is trapped with a bunch of inexperienced souls who don’t know what they’re doing, as he struggles to return to his body on Earth.

8 Jamie Foxx And Tina Fey Are Starring

The lead roles in Soul will be played by Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey. Foxx will play the protagonist, Joe Gardner, while Fey will fill the role of the comic-relief sidekick (every Pixar movie has one: Buzz Lightyear, Mater, Mike Wazowski, Dory etc.) who joins him on his journey. Fey’s character 22 is a soul who has been stuck at “the You Seminar” for years, unable to find a body to match her.

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Neither actor is a stranger to animation, since Foxx appeared in both Rio movies and Fey played the love interest in the villain-focused comic book satire Megamind.

7 Questlove, Phylicia Rashad, And Daveed Diggs Will Play Supporting Roles

Daveed Diggs as Mr Browne in Wonder

Questlove, Phylicia Rashad, and Daveed Diggs have all been cast to play supporting roles in Soul. Questlove, famed for leading The Tonight Show’s in-house band, the Roots, will play Curly, a drummer who plays in the lead protagonist Joe Gardner’s jazz band. Rashad, the female lead from The Cosby Show (who is in more of a position to land roles than her despicable co-star), will play Joe’s mother. Diggs, who has won both a Tony and Grammy (halfway to an EGOT) for his star-making turn in Hamilton on Broadway, will play Paul, Joe’s arch nemesis who lives down the street.

6 Jon Batiste Is Writing The Jazz Music

As with any movie about a fictional musician, a real musician is required to actually write their music. With this in mind, Pixar has recruited Jon Batiste to write Joe Gardner’s jazz songs for Soul. Batiste has worked with such legendary artists as Lenny Kravitz, Willie Nelson, Prince, and Stevie Wonder; he’s the leader of The Late Show’s resident band, Stay Human, with whom he frequently tours; and he’s the Creative Director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. So, it’s fair to say that he’s a trustworthy authority on the subject and the movie’s music is in safe hands.

5 Trent Reznor And Atticus Ross Are Writing The Score

While Jon Batiste will be writing the jazz songs that Soul’s lead character Joe Gardner will be playing, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have been brought on to write the actual score for the movie. Reznor, of course, is the front man, lead singer, and primary songwriter for the iconic rock band Nine Inch Nails, while Ross has worked with the band since 2005 and became an official member in 2016. Reznor and Ross have collaborated on a number of film soundtracks before – namely for director David Fincher. These include their Oscar-winning score for The Social Network and their Grammy-winning score for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

4 Soul Will Be Released On June 19, 2020

Pixar Soul Logo Cropped

While Pixar’s other 2020 movie, Onward, will be arriving in theaters in March, Soul will reach audiences a little later, on June 19, 2020. This is the same release date as an as-yet-untitled semiautobiographical comedy that Pete Davidson has co-written with Judd Apatow and will star in, with Apatow directing.

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From the previous week, Soul will face competition from Jordan Peele’s Candyman reboot, and from the week before that, there’s a chance that Wonder Woman 1984 will still be going strong. The following week, Soul will face off against belated sequel Top Gun: Maverick and the Broadway adaptation In the Heights.

3 Kemp Powers And Mike Jones Have Co-Written The Script With Pete Docter

Joining Pete Docter, who is directing Soul based on his own original story treatment, are two co-writers with whom he’ll share screenplay credit. These writers are: Kemp Powers, who has worked as a staff writer on Star Trek: Discovery and is even credited as Docter’s co-director on Soul according to IMDb, and Mike Jones, who worked with Pixar’s senior creative team on 2017’s Coco and this year’s Toy Story 4, and with the studio’s senior leadership team in 2018’s Incredibles 2. Pixar’s extensive story team also tends to play a hand in constructing the intricate, richly detailed screenplays for its movies.

2 Dana Murray Is Producing

Ratatouille Patton Oswalt Pixar

Soul will be produced by Dana Murray, who became a fully-fledged producer in 2017 when she produced Lou, the short film that came attached to the theatrical release of Cars 3. Murray has been working with Pixar since 2003, when she acted as a unit coordinator for the final polish on the animation of Finding Nemo. She then worked as a production coordinator for the Pixar shorts Jack-Jack Attack, One Man Band, and Lifted; a lighting manager for Ratatouille; a layout manager for Up; an art manager for Brave; and a production manager for Inside Out. So, she’s paid her dues and climbed the Pixar ladder.

1 Soul Will Be The First Pixar Movie With A Black Lead

Just as 2012’s Brave was Pixar’s first movie with a female lead, Soul will be the studio’s first movie with a black lead. It only took them 23 movies to get there. Better late than never. The studio has actually been more progressive than this late-in-the-game African-American representation would suggest. They didn’t stop with one token female lead; after Brave, Inside Out had a female protagonist, while Finding Dory and Incredibles 2 both put the spotlight on their franchise’s female characters. And Coco became the first movie with a nine-digit budget in history to feature an all-Latino cast. Soul is just the studio’s next progressive step.

NEXT: Everything We Know (So Far) About Pixar's Onward

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