Mindy Kaling agreed to voice a character in Pixar’s latest film based on nothing more than an illustration. But she didn’t even need that.
“They literally could have shown me nothing,” said Kaling, who plays a green, fluttery-lashed girl named Disgust in the new film Inside Out, which opens Friday. She heard the word “Pixar,” and she was in.
The much-anticipated film explores the action inside 11-year-old Riley’s head, where Kaling’s character and other emotions — Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Sadness (Phyllis Smith) and Joy (Amy Poehler) — control operations. Joy generally reigns, keeping Riley happy, but things go amiss when her family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. Riley’s team of emotions are thrown out of balance, and they have to work together to set things right.
Riley’s personality is represented by “islands” comprising the things most important to her, such as family, friendship and sports. Kaling said the film inspired her to reflect on her childhood experiences and consider what might be included among her own Islands of Personality.
“I was thinking role model island, you know, what I want to project as a role model,” the 35-year-old entertainer said. “Definitely fashion island. Friendship island, of course, because I’m very interested in my female friends; 4 p.m. snack island; mid-30s panic island. So I have a lot of islands. Some of them are helpful, some of them are not.”
Kaling has also been thinking about the sitcom she created and stars in, The Mindy Project, which was dropped by Fox last month and quickly picked up by Hulu. With twice the episodes of a typical network season, Kaling said her team plans to experiment with “new, creative storytelling techniques.”
“It gives you a little more room,” she said, especially since the episodes will be released weekly, rather than all at once as some streaming services do.
When it comes to content, though, Kaling is keeping her audience in mind: The Mindy Project won’t be racier just because it’s moving online.
“Our show was pretty damn risque when we were on broadcast TV,” she said. “If anything, it’s like I know that 14-year-old girls are watching the show, and I don’t want to show them anything that they’re not ready to sort of see.”