‘Soul’ Duo Says Pixar Movie Is “Investigation Into What’s Really Going On In Life” – Contenders Film

Oscar-winning director Pete Docter shared that the idea behind Soul, his latest Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar animated film, came from his own self-reflection.

“I was at a point in my life where I started to question, OK I’ve always been taught — everybody I think has — to follow your passion, do what you love and that will lead to ultimate joy and satisfaction,” he says during the film’s presentation at Deadline’s virtual Contenders Film awards-season event. “There is nothing wrong with following your passion — I think it does lead to great joy. But for me, it wasn’t leading to this sense of everything is figured out in my life.”

“The film is an investigation into what’s really going on in life and how are we meant to live,” Docter adds.

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In Soul, Jamie Foxx voices the lead character Joe Gardner, an aspiring jazz musician who gets the break of a lifetime, but through a twist of cosmic forces finds himself transported out of his body and to the place where souls are created. With the help of a new soul there, he must find his way back to his body on Earth, and both learn a lot more about what living on Earth is all about.

The choice to made Joe a jazz musician served a greater purpose within the film’s existential themes, co-director and co-writer Kemp Powers explains. “For Joe’s dream to ultimately be just playing with this band in a club that obviously holds about 150 people, that’s a root-able goal that doesn’t feel selfish,” he says.

He continues: “In a greater sense, it felt like the perfect metaphor for the central theme of the film. It’s this idea that life is about improvising and having to take all the unexpected things that are thrown at you and turn them into something of value, turn them into some beautiful… there’s no genre of music that’s a more perfect metaphor for the themes of the film that we were trying to tell than jazz.”

Check back for the panel video.


Deadline is an online news site founded by Nikki Finke in 2006. The site is updated several times a day, with entertainment industry news as its focus. It has been a brand of Penske Media Corporation since 2009.

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