With a string of recent comedy hits to his name and a Peanuts obsession that dates back to his childhood, Paul Feig was a natural choice to shepherd Blue Sky Studios’ new film based on Charles Schulz’s legendary comic strip. But there was another factor that made Feig right for his role as producer.
Feig recalls that Bryan Schulz, the grandson of the Peanuts creator and the film’s co-writer, was a big fan of his cult TV show, Freaks and Geeks.
“They were big Freaks and Geeks fans, and they thought I had a good voice for that time of life, even though Peanuts is younger than that,” Feig says. “It’s still portraying childhood in a way that’s funny and quirky, but emotionally honest.”
And the connection between Sam Weir and Charlie Brown goes the other way too. Feig admits that he always saw his show as a direct product of his Peanuts fandom. “[The comic strip] really influenced me more than I think anything, really,” he says. “Freaks and Geeks is really my own version of Peanuts.”
Feig came aboard the project partway into production, when a handful of animation tests were already complete. When he first saw what Blue Sky and director Steve Martino were working on, he found out that he wasn’t the only one on the film aiming to protect the Peanuts characters’ legacy.
“You’re afraid that Charlie Brown is going to have a baseball cap on and be rapping. You’re begging that they don’t Space Jam it up,” he says. “But the first time they showed me [the artwork and drawings], I got so emotional because you’re realizing that everything is in great hands and we can just move forward and make it as fun and relatable as possible.”