Interview with Jay Ward and Ray Evernham from Cars 3

Disney sent me to Charlotte, NC on an all-expenses paid press trip for the in home release of Cars 3, in exchange for my coverage of the events, which included an exclusive interview with Jay Ward (Creative Director) and Ray Evernham (NASCAR legend and voice of “Ray Reverham”). All opinions are my own.
Cars 3 is coming to Digital HD on October 24th and Blu-ray™ on November 7. We sat down with Jay Ward (Creative Director) and Ray Evernham (NASCAR legend and voice of “Ray Reverham”). Here’s what they had to share with us.

Catching up with Jay Ward and Ray Evernham from Cars 3

Photo by Becky Fixel

Q: So can you tell us about how Cars 3 got started?

Jay:
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 backstory. We also knew what people love about Pixar films is they love that emotional journey of a character and the transformation of a character. And 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 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 it’s hard, because Pixar Films are kinda’ held to a different standard you know. There are studios that make animated part 2,3,4,5 and people are like, “Yeah it was alright.” And we can’t get away with that you know. People hold us (for good or for bad), to a really high standard. So there’s a lot of pressure [LAUGHS] 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 a sense of wanting to connect with that character. We had people who had this love of Cars and this connection with Cars, so it did add a lot of pressure 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.
Photo by Becky Fixel

Q: Did you have input [Ray]? 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. 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 characters. They would send me something and say, “But what do you think about this?” You know especially with Jackson Storm. After being in, in NASCAR and racing so long, I saw the tendencies cars were going. They’re getting lower, they’re getting wider, they’re getting sharper. And, 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, 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 he’s totally-- this guy’s from the future.” And that’s kind of like what we’re thinking about with Jeff Gordon as a racer, who Ray was the Crew Chief for. One a day a young kid shows up that’s just better than you, you know. What is that like? And part of that was in the design. So when we show designs for Ray we said, “Ray what, will NASCAR look like 20 years from now if you can make it up?” And he’s like, “You guys are onto somethin' good.” So he did help.
Photo by Becky Fixel

Q: How hard is it to find a balance in the Pixar movies that will draw in children, but the parents want to watch it too. Instead of being like, “Oh my gosh we have to watch this movie again.”

Jay:
John’s always said that we don’t make children’s films. We make films that work for children and adults. If you start out by saying, “We’re gonna' make a great children’s film," then that’s all you’ve made. Um if you make a great film, really good film it’s gonna' work for all ages. If you think back before we had a film rating system, if you go back to the 40’s or 50’s, every film had to work for all ages. You couldn’t put stuff in ‘em that you could put in them now. And you know you can watch The Wizard of Oz as an adult or as a kid and you enjoy it. And that’s what I think we strive for with Pixar. Is to tell great stories that work for all ages and you wanna' watch it more than once because you're gonna' see something you didn't see the first time. I have young kids and my kids like watching movies over and over again. So even if I’m not watching, if I’m driving and I'm hearing ‘em. And I’m still laughing and still remembering things and that’s pretty special. There’s some kids films that we watched and even my kids will watch it once they’re good. They liked it, they walked out, “Hey that was fun.” They’re not gonna' get that on Blu-Ray or DVD. They don’t wanna' see it again, but a great story they wanna' see again and again.

Q: And what was it like seeing some of the stories and part of your history up on the screen?

Ray:  
It’s been a, fire hose of emotions in some ways because it’s you. 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. And 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. Sometimes when I watch the movies with them I learn as much myself about my career. So in some ways when I look at Lightning that’s Jeff Gordon. I’ve watched him through his career. But then through this movie 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 relationships with people, it didn't mean anything. So I actually found out more about my life and my career and, and I think that working on this movie has helped me appreciate my induction into the Hall Of Fame more.

Q: Were you considered a weird kid?

Jay:
Oh I was a weird kid.
Ray:
He’s a weird grown up.
Jay:
Yeah, you know what’s funny is most of the people that work at Pixar were not the cool kid in school, which I love. Like almost all of us were the geeks. We were the ones who were drawing and more introspective and, and create--You know we drew on the sidewalks. We made our own characters. We made spaceships out of cardboard boxes. We were the weird kids and I work with 1200 weird kids that all grew up and we love it, so yeah. Photo by Becky Fixel

About the Cars 3 At Home Release

“Cars 3” surged to the front of the pack opening weekend with audiences racing to see the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and spirited trainer Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo) team up to beat the new generation of blazing-fast racers. Now, this summer’s high-octane hit cruises home—loaded with bonus features like the all new mini-movie starring the demolition derby legend Miss Fritter— Digitally in HD and 4K Ultra HD™ on Oct. 24, and on Blu-ray 4K Ultra HD™ and Blu-ray™ on Nov. 7. Race fans of all ages are invited to ride along with the “Cars 3” crew for hilarious and heartfelt extras, including an exclusive new mini-movie, “Miss Fritter’s Racing Skoool,” taught by the queen of the Crazy 8; a feature detailing how real-world race training influenced filmmakers; the journey taken by voice actor Cristela Alonzo and team while shaping tech-savvy trainer Cruz Ramirez; behind-the-scenes access to the story team who crafted Lightning McQueen’s third chapter; deleted scenes; and much more. “Cars 3” is Disney•Pixar’s first in-home title released in stunning 4K Ultra HD format, the next-generation viewing format with four times the resolution of HD and exceptional high dynamic range (HDR), resulting in brilliant highlights, vibrant colors and greater contrast on compatible displays than ever before. With 4K Ultra HD, viewers will feel like they’re at the center of the action—holding their breath during the dramatic crash that launches Lightning’s journey, feeling the pulse-pounding action at the Florida International Super Speedway, and getting down and dirty at the Crazy 8 demolition derby. Download Cars 3 Halloween Activities

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