Interview: Lori Allen, from Disney’s ‘Inside Out,’ ‘Spongebob’ and Toy Story’

Pixar’s newest feature hits theaters June 19th with Inside Out, a film that finally focuses on the voices inside your head. I had the pleasure of getting to chat with the “Voice of Sadness” herself, Lori Alan! Lori is known to most fans as the voice of Bonnie’s Mom in Toy Story, Diane Simmons in Family Guy and Pearl the Whale of SpongeBob Squarepants fame.
Inside Out is the story about Riley, the once happy-go-lucky pre-teen is uprooted from her pleasant life in Minnesota and thrust into a new, unwelcome existence in San Francisco. That’s when the emotions take over. The emotions, Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith), collaborate and miscommunicate with one another in an attempt to keep Riley functioning. Parents also have emotions too. Riley’s Mom, played by Diane Lane has similar voices to help her function. Lori Allen plays “Voice of Sadness.”
FGN: How did you get into Voice Acting?
Lori Allen: Well, my parents are Voice Over actors, can you believe it? Yup, I am from the DC area, they BOTH went to Uni w/ a Theatre major & Radio minor and that’s all I ever knew because I literally grew up in it, IN FACT if I ever came home and said “I wanna be a Doctor!” they’d think I was crazy!
FGN: What does someone do for a voice acting audition that you wouldn’t do normally in an audition?
Lori Allen: For me a lot of the same techniques apply because first and foremost you’re always a storyteller, I pretend the mic isn’t there! However, for VO, I dress quieter 🙂 and stay “on mic” aka near the mic, I also move differently – often more exaggerated to embody the character while staying in place (in myhome studio, ONE sq. foot) !! Whereas “on camera” my movements are SEEN so I can be more subtle in my expressions.
FGN:  What are other differences between voice acting and film acting? Do you prefer one to the other?
Lori Allen: Most are the same as above, it’s all what I learned at NYU, where did I just come from? Who am I talking too? what do I want? who am I talking to? Part 2: No 🙂 But my first true love is live theatre!
FGN: What did you do to prepare for the character of “Sadness?”
Lori Allen: I prepared on my feet while improvising on the Disney/Pixar sound stage! We get to see clips of the movie and so see the characters, how they move, how they react, and Shazam! Mother Sadness was born!
FGN: If another emotion could have appeared in Inside Out what would you have wanted to see?

Lori Allen: GREAT question! Anxiety,ecstasy and puppy breath! OH! and LOVE because it’s all you need.
FGN:  How did it make YOU feel when Pixar asked you to play “Sadness?”
Lori Allen: Ecstatic, grateful and as always fortunate because it’s such a great honor to be a part of the Pixar family.
FGN:  What emotion do you think controls you the most?
Lori Allen: Unfortunately, worry from time to time but on a daily basis it is GRATITUDE!
You can hear Lori Allen’s vocal talents in the Disney/Pixar Film Inside Out, in theaters Friday.

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