AVC: About that original pitch—Pixar has made the point of how many firsts Brave represents: first female protagonist, first fairy tale, etc. Did any of that come into consideration at the studio, in the process of picking a new project?
MA: No, no.
KS: I think it [would] screw up our story process. If we think in firsts, it starts to put a boundary around what the movie is going to be, or we start becoming a slave to, “What was a princess before?” and, “What a girl should do,” or you start getting into artificial constraints.
MA: You’re serving the wrong master. You’re serving this idea of a genre, or what something should be, instead of going, “I need to make a character that is going to be appealing, that’s going to be inspirational, that’s going to be strong, that’s going to have a great arc so I’m going to care about this person, and be invested in this person.” Who is that? Regardless of whether they’re a woman, a man, a fish, a rat, a car, a bug, a toy. That’s where we always start. We start with the core. It is always the character, and the story is driven by the character. We just keep focus on that. We’re just, “Stop! Stop! I don’t care that it’s a girl, or our first princess, or that Disney has done these kinds of things before! We’re doing it our way! Just shut up, sit back!” We just focus on that; to make that character compelling, we have to do that.
AVC: You mentioned making Merida inspirational. That isn’t necessarily on most people’s lists for a children’s-movie character. How important is that factor?
MA: The one thing I love about telling stories is, we spend our whole lives going in and out of being better or worse, in our own character. But in a movie, the character transforms into the best they’re going to be. So you take a whole life, what we live, that we have to constantly work at, and we shove it down into 80 minutes so we can see what this person goes through. We can see the human condition at high speed. That creates more intensity and more stakes in the story, but what we get out of that is like [claps], “That person overcame everything, and boy, that’s inspirational. That’s what I’m going to do.” It empowers us.
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