Inside Out 2 Premieres: Riley’s Teenage Emotions Unleashed

The Sequel Introduces New Feelings as Riley Navigates Adolescence

Nine years after the emotional journey of 11-year-old Riley, “Inside Out 2” premiered in Los Angeles on Monday, exploring a new spectrum of emotions as Riley enters her teenage years.

The beloved characters Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust return, now joined by Anxiety, Envy, Ennui, and Embarrassment. With some changes in the voice cast—Liza Lapira takes over from Mindy Kaling as Disgust, and Tony Hale replaces Bill Hader as Fear—Amy Poehler remains the voice of Joy, the central emotion for a now 13-year-old Riley.

Reflecting on her return to the “Inside Out” universe, Poehler told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet, “It’s actually given me an incredible gift. Being in a film like this means a lot. It’s rare to be in something that is truly good, meaningful, and widely seen. You don’t always get those three things. It’s changed me a lot, and I’m very, very grateful to be back.”

Phyllis Smith reprises her role as Sadness, and Lewis Black returns as Anger. Maya Hawke joins the cast as Anxiety, a new dominant emotion. Hawke shared her emotional connection to the role, saying she cried during her audition and when she saw her character’s mockup, she exclaimed, “Oh my god, that’s me, I have to play this part.”

“It’s such a rare opportunity to be part of something this good and this popular, and it’s actually a positive contribution to the world,” Hawke continued. “It’s like a double rainbow—just immense gratitude and excitement, with a bit of intimidation because of the icons like Amy and Lewis that are here.”

Newcomer Ayo Edebiri voices Envy, noting that the root of this emotion is “actually like adoration. So trying to come from a place of positivity to spin the character on its head is where I started.”

Pixar’s chief creative officer, Pete Docter, who directed the first film and is an executive producer on the sequel, mentioned that the idea for a follow-up emerged a couple of years after the original’s release. “People kept talking about it, kept referencing it as a film that changed how they thought about themselves and dealing with their kids.” In 2020, Docter and Pixar president Jim Morris discussed potential storylines with director Kelsey Mann, who proposed a concept featuring anxiety. “Everyone was immediately on board,” Docter recalled.

The franchise seems poised to grow as Riley matures. Morris joked, “We’ve scripted it out until she gets on social security.” Poehler speculated about future films, “I feel like there’s a world where graduating and entering the real world is a big deal, many young people feel that way. There’s romantic love, which we haven’t really explored yet—what does it feel like to fall in love for the first time? But honestly, with Pixar, we could even go backwards—they could turn into babies. Whatever they do, I hope to be part of it.”

“Inside Out 2” hits theaters on Friday.

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