By Marc Snetiker
August 24, 2019 at 02:36 PM EDT

Soul

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The cast of Pixar’s next next film is overflowing with its very title.

Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey will lead the voice cast for Pixar’s upcoming animated feature Soul, an original film helmed by Pixar staple (and newly minted chief creative officer) Pete Docter, who previously directed Monsters, Inc., Up, and Inside Out for the studio.

Walter McBride/WireImage, Karwai Tang/WireImage; Vera Anderson/WireImage

Daveed Diggs, Phylicia Rashad, and Questlove will also lend their voices to Soul, in an announcement made by Docter, producer Dana Murray, co-director and writer Ken Powers, and writer Mike Jones at Disney’s biennial fan expo D23 Expo on Saturday.

Soul aims to crack open the origins of our passions, dreams, and interests that make us all human, according to Docter. “I’m directing a film that asks the ultimate question that we’ve all thought about at one time or another: Why am I here? Where did I come from? And what am I here for?” Docter revealed. “But who would make a cartoon about that? Metaphysics? We’re calling it Soul.”

Soul tells the story of an unsatisfied middle school band teacher named Joe Gardner (Foxx) who believes his purpose in life is to play jazz — but life keeps getting in the way of him fulfilling that purpose. Finally, he gets the job of a lifetime, only to accidentally die (or, just, die) and find himself at the You Seminar, a celestial workshop for souls to be created and given personality traits before they move on to real humans. While Joe is at the You Seminar, he meets a new soul nicknamed 22 (Fey) who has such a loathing for humans, she’s avoided Earth altogether. However, Joe and 22 eventually work together to find a way to get Joe back to Earth, traveling along the cosmic realms along the way. “Joe’s adventure will make him think again about what it truly means to have soul,” said Docter.

Questlove will play a character named Curly, the drummer in Joe’s band; Rashad will play Joe’s mother; and Diggs will play Paul, Joe’s neighborhood nemesis.

Like Coco, Soul is a musical movie, if not exactly a movie musical. Jon Batiste, Trent Reznor, and Atticus Ross are all working on the music, with Batiste penning original jazz for the film and Reznor and Ross composing an original score that traverses the realms.

“I’m so excited to be onstage with all these people and to be a part of this movie,” Fey said from the dais after receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. “Wait ’til you hear Jamie Foxx in this movie, guys. It’s really good. I think you’re going to like it. I think it’s real emotional. But also like, there’s nothing better than a Pixar movie, right?”

Soul was first announced earlier this summer accompanied by this cryptic tease of its scope: “…a journey from the streets of New York City to the cosmic realms to discover the answers to life’s most important questions.”

Soul will mark the fourth feature Docter has directed for Pixar, and the first he’s directed since taking on his new role at the animation studio. Soul will arrive in theaters on June 19, 2020, just a few months after Pixar’s March 2020 release, Onward, another original tearjerker (from Monsters University director Dan Scanlon) which was first announced at D23 Expo two years ago.

-Additional reporting from Sydney Bucksbaum

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