Continuing with all my Cars 3 coverage from the Charlotte #Cars3Bloggers event is another fun interview. This time with All About Cars 3 with Jay Ward (Creative Director) and Ray Evernham (NASCAR legend and voice of “Ray Reverham”) who both helped bring the next installment of the beloved Cars franchise to fruition with their shared love for Cars. So let’s just jump right in:
Q: So can you tell us about how Cars 3 got started?
JAY: How the movie got started? We knew after Cars 2 we wanted to tell another story and we also knew we wanted to get back to sort of more the roots of Cars 1, a McQueen story. We also knew what people love about Pixar films is they love that emotional journey of a character and the transformation of a character. So that was the impetus. That was the beginning and then we thought, “Okay if we’re telling the story about McQueen he’s already a hero, he’s already great at what he does. What do we tell?” And we started with a comeback story. Kind of more like a Rocky 3 kind of. He gets knocked down by the young guy and does he get back up?
That would have been a great movie, easy story to tell, but what we found along the way, what was more exciting was telling a story about mentorship, and telling a story about paying it forward, and telling a story about telling somebody who had limited themselves in life. That, “No you are good enough. You can do this.” So that was how it started.
Q: It’s almost kind of you know the trilogy of Cars. Kinda’ like a Race Driver comes full circle. So how much pressure were you under
JAY: Well t is hard because Pixar Films are kinda’ held to a different standard you know. There are, there are studios that make animated part 2,3,4,5 and people are like, “Yeah it was alright.” We can’t get away with that you know. People hold– for good or for bad, they hold us to a really high standard. So there’s a lot of pressure on movies. It has to have a great story #1 you know. Any film can look beautiful, but not any film can tell a great story. You have to feel um a sense of wanting to connect with that character. Luckily we had people who had this love of Cars and this connection with Cars it did add a lot of pressure, right? Of telling a story that was special and that’s why our films take so long. I mean yes, technically they’re challenging, but it really is about getting that story right. No way around it.
Q: Did you have input? Like was there anything that you wanted to see that you kind of said, “Can you make this happen for my character, work within the movie?”
RAY: I didn’t have that kind of input. What we did was just sit and, and talk a lot. We talk a lot and um the Pixar team asked a lot of questions and, and I told a lot of actual stories of how things worked and it was amazing to see them take that and be able to adapt it into the, the characters. But I didn’t say, “Hey!” You know well they would send me something and say, “But what do you think about this?” You know especially with Jackson Storm. After being in NASCAR and racing so long I saw the tendencies of Cars were going right.
They’re getting lower, they’re getting wider, they’re getting sharper. The air dynamics are coming from the bottom and the tires are gettin’ wider, and profile’s changing. We just talked about all those things and they made notes, after notes, after notes and just kept bringing it to life.
JAY: “Oh he did.” I mean honestly you know we knew Jackson Storm was supposed to look like the future of NASCAR. The idea was to make Lightning McQueen look old, which is hard to do ‘cause he looks good. He looks cool, but he had to feel like yesterday’s news all of a sudden. Right? Like when Jackson Storm shows up it’s like, “Whoa this guy’s from the future.” Right? That’s kind of like what we’re thinking about with Jeff Gordon as a Racer who Ray was the Crew Chief for was one a day a young kid shows up that’s just better than you. What is that like? Part of that was in the design. So when we show designs for Ray we said, “Ray what, what a NASCAR look like 20 years from now if you can make it up?” And he’s like, “You guys are onto something good.” So he did help.
Q: What was it like seeing some of the stories and part of your history up on the screen?
RAY: Really it’s been a fire hose of emotions in some ways because you’ve been at the end of my career and having a young child you know I got kind of a blended family right. There’s 24 years difference between my children and my son is on the autism spectrum at 26 year old. I have a 2 year old and it just seems to be lucky enough to have been involved and this project has brought them closer together and I understand a little bit more about the fact. Sometimes when I watch the movies with them I learn as much myself about my career. In some ways when I look at Lightning that’s Jeff Gordon. I’ve watched him through his career. But then through this movie you know some of the lessons that Lightning had to learn about the emotion and the relationships and the people were more important than winning the races and the trophies.
Because when that’s gone you just had stuff and without the relationship with people it didn’t mean anything. So I actually found out more about my life and my career and I think that, that working on this movie has helped me appreciate my adaption into the Hall Of Fame more than had I not.
Disney and Pixar present CARS 3, a fast-paced new tale of Lightning McQueen, his classic CARS friends and a new spirited trainer Cruz Ramirez! Lighting finds himself pushed out of racing by a new generation of faster and younger cars and goes on a journey to discover where he belongs in this new type of high-octane competition. CARS 3- the third film in the now-iconic CARS film franchise—will cruise home Digitally in HD on Tuesday, Oct. 24!