Holly Hunter 'Incredibles 2' interview: 'It's an act of heroism to raise children' (exclusive)

Stefan Pape
Holly Hunter is Elastigirl in Incredibles 2 (Reuters/Disney)

In Incredibles 2, like all of Pixar’s movies, there’s so much more going on than initially meets the eye.

The Disney studio has used family-friendly animation to explore a whole variety of socio-political themes, and the long-awaited sequel to 2004’s The Incredibles is no different, lingering on the notion of traditionalist gender roles, subverting them, and pushing this family firmly into the modern world.

Picking up after the events of the first film, Incredibles 2 sees Mr. Incredible becoming a stay-at-home dad, while Elastigirl – voiced again by the indelible vocal talent that is Holly Hunter – is out saving the world. Yahoo spoke to the Hollywood star about this pertinent theme that director Brad Bird is exploring, and why it’s so vital that a new generation of viewers are exposed to this progressive family set-up, and this positive portrayal of women on screen.

Hunter also discusses how this film fits into a contemporary cinematic landscape, with the superhero genre evolving so much in the last 14 years since the first movie was released, and how she feels to be spearheading the current movement of female superheroes alongside Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, while she also comments on how the film dovetails into the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.

Yahoo Movies UK: Did you have any apprehensions in making this sequel? I know a lot of actors sometimes don’t want to revisit characters, but knowing Pixar are behind it, and Brad Bird is behind it, was it a no-brainer?

Holly Hunter: I have implicit trust in Brad so I looked at his track record, and the movies that he has directed, like Iron Giant and Ratatouille, and what Pixar have chosen, very thoughtfully, to execute, I didn’t hesitate to say ‘yes’.

Since the first movie we have seen the superhero genre evolve drastically, The Incredibles predated The Dark Knight and the rise of the MCU – how does this fit into a contemporary cinematic landscape? Has it had to adapt to the times?

Actress Holly Hunter poses for photographers upon arrival at the UK premiere of Incredibles 2 in central London, Sunday, July 8, 2018. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

I think this movie works on a few different levels, I think Brad Bird had a lot that he wanted to express when he did this movie and I think it works phenomenally well, and that’s one of the reasons why people are responding to it in such a major way in the States. It works as an action movie, you can go just for the action and be really happy. It’s got a lot of sophistication and at the same time you can have a 5-year-old see the movie and just laugh their heads off at Jack-Jack and Dash.

Which is emblematic of Pixar’s model.

Yeah, and the layers are really dense and beautifully rendered. You could see this just for art direction alone, it’s beautiful to look at.

Elastigirl is now at the forefront of this movement of female superheroes, with Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, she’s in that bracket. It must be great to be a part of this new wave?

I have Brad Bird to thank for that. It’s just fantastic that this was one of his large ideas that he wanted to hang the hat on in Incredibles 2. So I’m beyond thrilled, I think it’s necessary to have more strong females where people see a woman prevail.

Another theme explored is how Mr. Incredible is the stay-at-home dad, and Elastigirl is out there saving the world and providing for the family.

Yeah, and anybody who sees the movie will see that it’s beyond cliché. The fact that Mr. Incredible is having such a difficult time with the children, well anybody who has ever taken care of even one child for a night, and he has three, will know it is heroic, it’s an act of heroism to raise children, and Mr. Incredible is re-learning that through the course of this movie, how unimaginably challenging it can be to take care of kids.

The film dovetails into the Me Too and Times Up movements as well. It feels like a very positive product of a new era of filmmaking.

I think that it’s such a necessary expression. It’s such a necessary emblem for us to see a female in this position of power, and in this position of being so autonomous and capable and calculating and almost mathematical. She’s very objective in how she solves these problems on screen. That’s a beautiful, systematic way of seeing a woman that is very important for little boys to see. Obviously for little girls too.

This image released by Disney Pixar shows the character Helen/Elastigirl, voiced by Holly Hunter, left, and Bob/Mr. Incredible, voiced by Craig T. Nelson in “Incredibles 2,” in theaters on June 15. (Disney/Pixar via AP)

If a little girl could see a female President she could easily say, ‘I want to be President of the United States’ because once you see something it becomes much easier to imagine, and I certainly think this is an important thing for men to see. It’s an acknowledgement that raising kids can be beyond your wildest dreams of difficulty.

Another theme I enjoyed was concerning the villain Screenslaver – it looks into our dependancy on technology, and how that can be destructive in our lives, it’s interesting to have the villain manipulate technology to get into the public’s heads.

Totally. I think that Screenslaver’s moral code is something that we can all kind of agree with, he has a good point. It makes him a slightly more seductive villain if we can sort of get on board with what he’s on about, that’s another sophisticated element that Brad threw in as director and writer.

Incredibles 2 hits UK cinemas 13 July.

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