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– by Gig Patta

Mr. Incredible has become Mr. Mom.

In its own way, any stay at home parent is a superhero. And taking care of children is its own superpower.

In the long-awaited sequel Incredibles 2, the animated film immediately follows the original movie with the superhero family being banned from performing superhero duties. A mysterious benefactor looks to change everything with a publicity campaign with Elastigirl as the new face of superheros. In the meantime, Mr. Incredible is regulated to childcare duties with the family.

The returning voice cast included Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell and Samuel L. Jackson. They are joined by new voice members, including Huck Milner, Catherine Keener and Bob Odenkirk. Brad Bird returns to helm the project.

LRM sat down with Craig T. Nelson for an exclusive one-on-one interview about his work on this project. We talked about returning to the franchise, Brad Bird’s directing style and his challenges towards voicework.

Incredibles 2 is in theaters nationwide today!

Read our interview transcript below.

LRM: How proud of you to return to the franchise of Incredibles 2?

Craig T. Nelson: Totally honored to be part of it. It’s like you don’t get that chance often and there you go. It’s that chance to do two of them. The first one didn’t know what it was going to be. The second one has to live up to what the first one had been. Then you come into this thing where it’s like all of a sudden you’ve got a world of superheroes that have been promoted, are out there , done well and blah blah blah. What are you going to do that’s going to compete with them? That was a chore for them, Pixar. They did it. Brad is amazing in that regard.

LRM: Now it’s been like 14, 15 years. Where did you even expect a sequel like this would even ever happened?

Craig T. Nelson: No, it was gone. In terms of like after about four years. Didn’t know the first one was going to do that well and then it does. Then you expect while maybe three years. Maybe? But, after about four years, nothing happened.

LRM: What was your reaction when you got the phone call for just for the sequel?

Craig T. Nelson: You kind of heard rumors. I’ve been hearing a little bit before that. There’s a possibility. You’re pretty much a skeptic in this business. Well, when it happens, it’ll happen. Finally, there it was! We’re going to do it.

LRM: So who told you the news?

Craig T. Nelson: Brad [Bird].

LRM: Brad?

Craig T. Nelson: Yeah. I’ve seen him at award [function] he got for Tomorrowland. Afterwards he said, “Oh, by the way! I’m writing.”

LRM: Really?

Craig T. Nelson: Yup! That was the first for me. I believe that first indication. I kind of got something from an agent that I knew, he had a tie in with Pixar. He said, “No, they’re working.” Wow! Okay. There you go.

LRM: How did you like the new direction that your character took into sequel? It’s almost like a Mr. Mom type of scenario. [Chuckles]
Craig T. Nelson: Initially, I didn’t like it. Personally, I just like, “Well, wait a minute! I’m being relegated to what?” I didn’t really what they had in mind. Once you get into it and you realized the story and what it’s doing and how its coalescence. It was like, “Uh, okay. Yeah, I can do this. This will be fun.” As the characters developed along the way and you started doing scenes with each character in the family and then it was even more fun. More interesting, because it developed a side of the guy that wasn’t developed in the first one. It also the fact that he was really giving his wife permission in his own way to go ahead and do the best she can. Go for it. I thought that was pretty neat. It was like part of his character that I really enjoyed. Not only performing, but just being a part of it.

LRM: Which end did you enjoy from this film more–of him doing domesticated stuff or the superhero stuff?

Craig T. Nelson: The domesticated stuff. Especially, the stuff with Jack Jack, which was so much fun.

LRM: Was it was that anything you expected?

Craig T. Nelson: The first indication, of course, is when you’re doing it and you’re recording the sessions. It was like, “Really? Let’s go!” We’re getting into it. It was wonderful. It was so much fun. That discovery. How the kids discover it? What did they do about it? Then you’ve got all these other issues within the family that you’re dealing with. It was a lot of fun.

LRM: Tell me about working with Brad Bird again. What makes him such a special wanted director in your opinion?

Craig T. Nelson: Well, I think he is so available. He’s such a kid really. He understands the art form. He understands the difficulties that actors sometimes have in doing just voice work. He hears a quality in the recording that I didn’t. He really wants this to sound like this. Once you get beyond the barrier of that’s what I’m doing, know what you’re doing is bah, bah, bah, bah, bah. What I want is bah, bah, bah. [Making tonal sounds] Crap, really? You do that. There’s a trust that starts to develop.

It’s very, very difficult. It’s really hard for me. It’s hard to do. I’m not as amendable to that, because I’m used to doing it the other way. I haven’t done that much voice work. With Brad, you really relied on what he’s hearing, what he wants and what you can do?

LRM: It didn’t sound like there’s a lot of room for improv.

Craig T. Nelson: Not really.

LRM: You’re not an improv person yourself, right?

Craig T. Nelson: Yeah. Yeah, I do. On Parenthood, we did a lot. That’s different, because in the environment of working with other actors [there is] a lot more freedom in to a certain degree. You’re responding off by this. You’re listening more in this. You’re reacting more in this. You’re initiating. Oftentimes you feel like you’re coming out of nowhere.

You’re not really working off of anybody else physically. It’s a completely different way of working. But, at the same time, it’s essential. It made me do was to realize the importance of the level that you’re at and also how it sounding.

There’s two ways you can look at it. Oftentimes, you will watch a movie without sound and I’ll see just moments that just don’t work. The person’s not in there, it’s not working. Then other times you can listen to it with the sound, turn away and you’ll hear it’s not right. It doesn’t sound right. Then you turn back and it’s like a different deal.

It just made me aware of how important it is and to some degree how neglectful it is. It’s a challenge.

LRM: Are you hopeful for possible third movie?

Craig T. Nelson: I had the luxury of doing the two of them. The second one was a complete gift out of nowhere. I haven’t even thought about it. It’s all dependent on how well this does and the demand.

LRM: I’m sure it will do very well. [Laughs]

Craig T. Nelson: I think so.

LRM: Hey, thank you very much.

Craig T. Nelson: Thank you.

Source: LRM Online Exclusive

Gig Patta is a journalist and interviewer for LRM and Latino-Review since 2009. He was a writer for other entertainment sites in the past with Collider and IESB.net. He originally came from the world of print journalism with several years as a reporter with the San Diego Business Journal and California Review. He earned his MBA from the Keller Graduate School of Management and BA in Economics from UC San Diego. Follow him on Instagram @gigpatta or Facebook @officialgigpatta.