Self-Proclaimed Disney Parks Nerd Tina Fey Used ‘Jedi Mind Tricks’ To Land A Pixar Role

Tina Fey and Jamie Foxx in Soul

I love finding out that a celebrity I admire also happens to be a Disney nerd. It’s like peeling back the curtain on the people who create stuff that we love, only to find some of the things that THEY love. Tina Fey obviously has been responsible for so many entertainment escapes that pop culture has adored, from Mean Girls and 30 Rock to her time on Saturday Night Live. But her recent collaboration as a voice in Pixar’s Soul opened the door to the truth that she’s a die-hard Disney geek, as she tells me in the exclusive interview clip above.

For many A-listers, a voicing gig is just that… a gig. But I often like to ask talent who get to work with Pixar Animation Studios how long they have been waiting to get their shot to possibly be in a Pixar movie. Pixar has created brilliant roles out of extremely recognizable Hollywood voices, whether it’s Tom Hanks (Woody) and Owen Wilson (Lightning McQueen) or Ellen Degeneres (Dory) and John Goodman (Sully). Do actors and comedians actively pursue a role in a new Pixar movie, knowing all of the perks that come with it?

Tina Fey told me that she used all of her “Jedi mind tricks” to land the role of 22 in Pete Docter’s brilliant and emotional Soul. Her character is a literal soul stuck in The Great Before, the realm where a soul seeks its “personality” so that it can travel to Earth and land in a human. Only, 22 resists figuring out the final element that makes her, well, her -- despite the assistance of many, many famous mentors.

When Tina Fey and I discussed her desire to be in a Pixar film, and if it was something she was actively seeking out, she said:

I mean, in my mind! Yeah, I was pursuing it with, like, Jedi mind tricks. Years ago, I was asked to re-voice the American version of Ponyo, which is… I was thrilled to be a part of that. It’s another incredibly beautifully visual film. I’m just a general Disney Parks nerd, so other than me just kind of telling anyone who I met in the parks that I would be open to working on any Disney project…

Voice work isn’t for everyone. If you hear certain actors recollecting their time in the booth, recording lines of dialogue over and over, it can be tedious, exhausting and creatively taxing work.

But when the effort comes together for something as rewarding and life-affirming as Soul, it hopefully makes it worth the hours of hard vocal projection. Pete Docter previously helmed the Pixar movies Inside Out and Up, to give you an idea of the emotional roller coaster that you are in store for with Soul. The animated masterpiece will begin streaming on Disney+ on Christmas Day. Don’t miss it.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.