Exclusive: Brad Bird Takes RT Through Ratatouille

We find out how to reshape a Pixar project.

by | October 26, 2007 | Comments

Brad BirdRatatouille is one of the freshest wide releases of the year. Critics love it, audiences love it, everyone in the RT office loves it too. This is a familiar feeling for Brad Bird, whose previous success, The Incredibles wowed audiences worldwide, and for Pixar who’ve been Certified Fresh on every film since their feature film debut with Toy Story in 1995. With the recent UK cinema release and the upcoming US DVD release of Ratatouille, we caught up with Bird to find out where the story began for him.

Take us back to the beginning, how did you come on board Ratatouille? It wasn’t your project initially, was it?

Brad Bird: No it was an idea that was conceived by Jan Pinkava and he was working on it when I first came up to Pixar in 2000 to do The Incredibles. So I was aware of the film and always loved the idea but it was a very difficult story to kind-of describe in a sentence or two. It’s not like “Pixar Goes Underwater” or “Pixar Does Superheroes,” it’s a much weirder idea.

So it was challenging to pull it together and a little over a year and a half ago the founders of Pixar, John Lasseter, Steve Jobs and Ed Catmull, asked me to come onboard and help solidify the story because the story was elusive. I wrote a new script and took it through production. So my time on the film was relatively short and, in animation terms, quick.

What was there initially that you wanted to keep and what did you feel needed to change?

BB: I thought the initial concept of a rat who wants to cook was always an idea that was full of possibilities. I think the Cyrano de Bergerac relationship between Remy and Linguini was always appealing to me; it was funny and the possibility for physical comedy was great. I think that the challenge was to get all the storylines supporting the key relationship in the film which was between the rat and the garbage boy. So I had to lose some of the other characters – I killed Gusteau off and made him part of Remy’s imagination. Colette was a minor character; I made her a major character. I made the rats rattier, I minimised the family storyline, separated Remy from the family for a chunk of the film which made the relationship with Linguini able to grow. I had Remy actually join Linguini and have him share the apartment with him, almost like The Odd Couple. The legal relationship between Linguini and Gusteau wasn’t in there.

So it was a lot of things and I just had to find the right mix.


If you’re going to come onboard a project late, is Pixar the place to do it?

BB: It’s a great team and if you’re clear about what you want they can get it for you just like that. But you have to be very clear, and very specific. I had to make a lot of decisions very quickly and then stick with them because the time for going “maybe this, maybe that” had all been used up by the time I got involved.

It’s known as being a very high-tech company but I think that in many respects it’s Pixar’s embrace of old-fashioned notions of not focus-grouping ideas but just going with your gut, people following their instincts, simply saying, What kind of movie would we like to see, and making that, which make it such a great place to work. Also their message that it’s not about the technology, those kinds of ideas and the focus on characters, is what makes the place so special. And the fact that filmmakers are in charge of the projects.

What’s next for you?

BB: I was starting to work on a live action film a couple of years before I came on board Ratatouille so I’m going to return to that and I’m quite excited by that idea. I don’t want to tell you too much about just yet, I’m not really ready for that, but it’s a historical-based thing and I think it’s going to be pretty wild.

Tag Cloud

Extras political drama 2019 Polls and Games Mary Tyler Moore Holidays Quiz Comic Book Pop facebook Biopics CBS Sony Pictures Premiere Dates Warner Bros. The Arrangement Awards Tour See It Skip It crossover Valentine's Day Trophy Talk Photos Nickelodeon cops Mary Poppins Returns miniseries Sci-Fi green book Paramount Network OWN Martial Arts FXX Calendar Acorn TV thriller Star Trek what to watch aliens Fox News dceu Interview Tumblr Epix Writers Guild of America Amazon harry potter E3 cults Kids & Family Hulu Dark Horse Comics Captain marvel Pixar 24 frames Food Network diversity Lionsgate ITV Sneak Peek E! LGBTQ FX Shudder USA Network streaming Action Netflix technology Fall TV Amazon Prime Crackle Superheroes travel comic A&E Election TLC mutant Video Games Comics on TV Rocky historical drama anime Oscars Lucasfilm Horror TNT TV Land 20th Century Fox crime vampires Rom-Com CBS All Access Watching Series mockumentary hist Walt Disney Pictures Syfy Schedule Song of Ice and Fire DC Universe Red Carpet YouTube Premium Reality 45 Shondaland justice league Sundance Ghostbusters GIFs Esquire The CW GoT SundanceTV discovery Nat Geo TV cats IFC Films romance MTV Columbia Pictures Music Emmys APB Teen 2017 VH1 Musical Trivia Rock Musicals TruTV jamie lee curtis 21st Century Fox Cosplay biography festivals ABC Family Nominations Spectrum Originals BET police drama crime drama serial killer New York Comic Con docudrama zombies NYCC Winners National Geographic Trailer History Summer crime thriller Masterpiece Disney Certified Fresh zombie AMC boxoffice TBS YA spider-man Opinion binge Spike Anna Paquin 2018 finale Bravo Winter TV Fantasy 007 Drama TCM Grammys TCA Countdown PaleyFest Tomatazos doctor who SXSW psycho Cartoon Network Awards GLAAD dramedy ABC CMT television politics Mary poppins transformers American Society of Cinematographers spy thriller cooking NBC HBO Pirates Black Mirror robots USA Starz award winner sitcom golden globes MCU adventure Mystery DGA Mindy Kaling VICE Comedy composers Country Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Ellie Kemper Creative Arts Emmys Adult Swim Podcast talk show Chilling Adventures of Sabrina YouTube Red Best and Worst Box Office MSNBC DC Comics unscripted Ovation Spring TV true crime Set visit Toys TIFF sequel cinemax Western FOX WGN Lifetime Apple Star Wars X-Men Showtime Paramount Christmas CNN BBC America Year in Review Sundance Now war adaptation sports Universal Marvel San Diego Comic-Con social media TCA 2017 singing competition Freeform Marathons PBS Britbox period drama medical drama based on movie ratings RT History Comedy Central Animation anthology DC streaming service Disney Channel ESPN Logo BBC Superheroe President First Look CW Seed El Rey Thanksgiving blaxploitation Character Guide IFC supernatural dc Reality Competition Super Bowl 2015 DirecTV Infographic SDCC casting comiccon science fiction 2016 Brie Larson