The animated film “Soul” debuts on Disney+ on Christmas Day. The feature marks Pixar’s first with a Black lead.
“Soul” stars Jamie Foxx as “Joe,” a middle-school band teacher whose passion in life is Jazz. An unfortunate accident right before his big break sends him to “The Great Before.”
This is the place where souls are sent before they go to earth, to receive their personality. When he’s tasked with helping “22” (voiced by Tina Fey, 30 Rock) find passion and meaning, Joe learns to discover new meaning to things in his own life too.
The film also stars Phylicia Rashad (voice of “Libba Gardner” – Joe’s mom,) Angela Bassett (voice of jazz singer “Dorothea Williams”) and Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson (voice of “Curley”)
EURweb correspondent Jill Munroe spoke with Foxx and the film’s co-directors/ story creators, Pete Doctor and Kemp Powers plus producer Dana Murray, about Foxx’s handprint on the film, and the importance of mentorship.
Foxx on what aspects of himself he brought to the character of Joe:
Just enthusiasm. I feel like living in the world of what I live in. When it comes to art, when art is your trade. That is a death-defying, unpredictable place to be in. Well, I sing, but do I sing good enough? Well I play, but do I play enough, I act but do I act good enough? You never know. But you know that is your passion. And you won’t know until something falls your way. Sometimes it takes a short period of time, or it could take a lifetime. So that’s what I brought to Joe. The fact that I have that enthusiasm and it never waivers. I’m always about the fun, the joy, the laughs, the music. I could be in a little room with four or five people, playing some bongos and piano and be happy. Or be on stage with hundreds of thousands and still give the same feeling. That’s what I gave Joe.
Here’s Kemp Powers on the importance of creating this world with a Black man as center:
I just wanted him to be a guy that I recognized. I went to public school in New York, and it was important to us that Joe actually be a good teacher. But to be a good teacher, he couldn’t be a pushover. Public school kids are witty … For me getting to show Black characters, ones that I enjoy and recognize. That I love and not have to water them down in a way that one might expect one would have to, being able to help put that on the screen was really exciting to me.