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People get their inspiration for their characters in the oddest places. The inspiration for most of Pixar’s characters in Inside Out is fairly obvious. They are emotions after all. But it was another character, the imaginary friend Bing Bong that stole many hearts when we watched the film earlier this year. It turns out this was fitting since the character was inspired by a beloved comedian in one of his most iconic roles. John Candy’s part in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.
Candy often played hapless and clueless characters which, combined with his imposing size, made for a natural comedic dichotomy. It was this look and feel that director Pete Doctor wanted to create for Riley imaginary friend in the film. In an interview with Pixar Lead Animator Chris Sasaki Yahoo Movies reveals the connection.
I remember [writer-director] Pete Docter telling me to think about John Candy from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. With every drawing, I tried to keep John Candy’s voice and performance in the back of my mind.
It’s one of those moments that becomes patently obvious once you have it explained. Candy’s character of Del Griffith from the classic 1987 comedy is big, friendly, and utterly clueless when it comes to really noticing the world around him. He’s so happy to have made a friend, Steve Martin’s Neal Page, that he doesn’t really notice that Page is significantly less enthused about having met him. Bing Bong is much the same. When he meets Joy and Sadness he’s so happy that they remember him that he becomes their best friend, even though they’re really just looking for a way out of their predicament. Here’s a great example of the character.
If you’re a fan of both films you can probably already hear Bing Bong’s lines in John Candy’s voice. It makes one wonder what the movie would have been like if they’d actually been able to cast the man as the voice of Bing Bong. Something you’d have to assume they would have attempted if he were still with us. Still, nothing should be taken away from Richard Kind, who did such a great job in the role that he had more than a few people blubbering in the theater. Kind has many of the same comedic sensibilities as Candy making him perfect for the role.