How Pixar’s Inside Out reunited two Muppets legends

Director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera explain how they reunited two Muppets legends after 16 years...

Take a look through the end credits for Pixar’s stunning new film, Inside Out, and a pair of familiar names appear. For voicing the roles of Subconscious Guard Dave and Subconscious Guard Frank are Frank Oz and Dave Goelz.

Oz lent his voice to a character in co-director Pete Docter’s first Pixar feature, Monsters Inc. He’s also, of course, famous for lending his vocal tones to Yoda in Star Wars, and for directing a host of hit movies.

But for us, Oz was one of the creative forces behind The Muppets, along with Jim Henson and Dave Goelz. Furthermore, Oz was the human behind Fozzie, Miss Piggy, Animal and more. As for Goelz? He gave life to Gonzo, Waldorf and Dr Bunsen Honeydew, amongst many others.

And to see (or at least hear) Oz and Goelz back together on a project? We just had to ask Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera how it came to be.

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At a special Q&A we hosted last weekend for Inside Out, they told us the story.

“I’ve got to know those guys over the years, because I’m a huge Muppet fan”, explained Docter. “I think all of our work, from Toy Story on, is heavily influenced by The Muppets, design-wise and dialogue-wise The sense of character I think. John [Lasseter] and Andrew [Stanton] are big Muppets fans a well”.

He continued: “Frank Oz was in Monsters Inc in a role, and we thought we’d get him in. And we had another character there, that we were going to have some random actor do. But then we thought wow, what if we could get Dave Goelz?”

“It was the first time they’d worked together for 16 years I think they said?”

“Yeah,” confirmed Rivera. “It was pretty cool. We had our own little show in the booth. These guys were so good, they clicked right into it. It was amazing. They’d ask questions such as, ‘so these guys are guards, they’ve been doing it for 12 years, and they have hats’, and you’d throw them a topic and they’d just go!”

Docter picked the story back up. “Frank would usually say ‘just say something to lead into it’, and Dave would say ‘my hat feels loose’ or ‘do I look fat to you?’. And then they would just riff. That was so funny, that we threw out the script, and just used what they made up.”

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“One of the hardest decisions was to pick what to use” Rivera added. “It was like a ten minute comedy sessions for us – the most inefficient recording sessions we’ve done!”

Inside Out is in theaters now. Hopefully, some of Goelz’s and Oz’s outtakes will make it to the disc release of the film…