Inside Out 2 Filmmakers Reveal Secrets of Visually Designing an Anxiety Attack

Inside Out 2's filmmakers talk about Maya Hawke's big anxiety attack.

Inside Out 2's focus on Anxiety as a character is undeniable. The filmmakers behind the mammoth Pixar film talked to ComicBook about crafting an anxiety attack on-screen. Director Kelsey Mann shared their creative process between layouts and lighting. (Comic book fans will notice some similarities to another well-known property when the plot hits that point.) The kinetic nature of Anxiety keeps building as Inside Out 2 goes. Maya Hawke's character always feels about two steps ahead of her fellow emotions. But, as the film continues along, her control of the console and movement on-screen becomes even more noticeable. The team over at Pixar deserve some applause for rendering a very human emotion in a completely legible way for the audience.

"That took a lot of work to get the right feel. There's lot of departments that pull that off. That's between the layout department, which is our cinematographers and then there's the lighting department. The animation of it, everybody has to work together. There's some shots in this movie that I can't believe we're able to pull off and make. I'm like you guys, this is amazing work. In some of my favorite shots we've ever done at Pixar."


Anxiety keeps a tight grip on that console.

- Pixar)

"The research also really informed that moment," he continued. "Also, 'How do you process going through a panic attack?' And, how do you bring yourself out of that. Touching something, and the feeling. Listening and connecting with your senses. A lot of what was in there was inspired by the research."

Inside Out 2's Sneaky Film Inspirations Draw On Anxiety


New emotions take center stage in Inside Out 2.

- Pixar)

With such a vivid vision of an anxiety attack in the film, the inspiration for the scene had to come from multiple sources. While the research and science-based approaches spoke to the filmmakers, there were also cinematic nods as well. In a recent interview with Animation Magazine, director of layout photography Adam Habib revealed that Uncut Gems was a sneaky source of inspiration for Inside Out 2's more harrowing moments. 

The Adam Sandler film also has a frenetic tone that puts the viewer into the mind of someone who has to think quickly on their feet to avoid catastrophe. It's a little wild to hear two drastically different films paired in this way. But, once you see Inside Out 2, you really can't argue with the comparison.

"Anxiety is going to try to take control of the console every time, and Maya Hawke knew how to get that sound in her voice when she took on this character. And the other emotions like Joy might try to take control from her, but it's almost impossible," Mann shared. "There were lots of opportunities for us to have fun with that. Anxiety is always two steps ahead; she's always thinking of the next move. Joy plays checkers but Anxiety plays chess. She can outmaneuver all of them."

Will you be heading out to see Inside Out 2 this week? Catch all of our pop culture discussion at @ComicBook on social media!