Pixar’s JohnLasseter has long admired the beautiful hand-drawn animation ofJapanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. The two met back in 1987 but firstcollaborated this past year on Miyazaki’s new film Ponyo, which hits theaters Aug. 14. Lasseter co-directed the English-language version, which involvedwriting a new script and working with the all-star cast of voiceactors: Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Liam Neeson and Tina Fey. We wereable to spend a few minutes with the two legends outside Hall H at theclose of Friday’s panel. Check out our conversation below–along with the trailer for Disney’s other big upcoming animated release, The Princess and the Frog:
EW: John, you spoke earlier about how Miyazaki’smovies have inspired you. Can you speak specifically about moments in his workthat have helped you in yours?
Lasseter: In A Bug’s Life there’s a rescue where all the bugs rescuePrincess Dot from this huge bird that’s attacking her. And one of my favoritesequences in Miyazaki’s films is in Castle in the Sky where there’s thisunbelievable rescue that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Themain character rescues this girl from a fort that’s being destroyed andit’s breathtaking. One of the other amazing sequences to me is inMy Neighbor Totoro when the cat bus first arrives. In Hollywood movies tend to get faster and faster, more action and action. What I love about Miyazaki is he takes a breath and he lets something just be there. And that makes whatcomes after it all the more amazing. I think UP is a great example of PIxar havingmore quiet moments so the action moments are more balanced, and that isattributed to Miyazaki.
EW: I’m curious what you think of thePixar movies?
Miyazaki: When I look at Mr. Lasseter’s movies I realize what effort he’s put into it andwhat kind of trouble he’s had making the movies. So I probably see his moviesfrom a completely different perspective other people see them. It’s kind ofabout sharing the pain with a fellow director.
EW: Would you ever try computer animation or do you plan tostick with hand-drawing?
Miyazaki: I tried a little bit of it but then when I drew mycharacters, I realized that the [computer-animated] method was coming into my hand drawings, so Idecided to stop so I wouldn’t be influenced by it.
EW: What was the Ponyo collaboration like? Was it just about dubbing in English?
Lasseter: I always want to protect Miyazaki’s vision, sowe worked first on the script, capturing the story so Americanaudiences can be at the samelevel of understanding as Japanese audiences at any moment inthe film and to make the language natural to our ears. Then casting the rightvoices andgetting the performances to fit the animation, so it doesn’t feel dubbed.
EW: Why is now the time for a Miyazaki release toget thetheatrical support it deserves?
Lasseter: I believe so strongly that when you see a film byMiyazaki, you become a fan. I keep talking to Disney to get it out there. I say, Trust me, the audience will be there for it. They are unlike anything you’ve everseen and that’s why I’m so excited about this big of a release.
EW: Could we see a time where you two collaborate on story,character and animation from the beginning of a project?
Miyazaki: I think it’s better if we keep it separate and doour own work.
Lasseter: Yeah, I don’t want to corrupt his creative vision.It’s too brilliant.