Each Hidden Reference to Future Pixar Motion pictures Defined | WIRED

published on July 2, 2020

hi everybody my name is Jonas Rivera I'm

a producer and the senior vice president

of production at Pixar Animation Studios

and I'm talking to you today from my

home office and I'm here to talk to you

today about Pixar's Easter eggs


it's an old tradition at the studio

something we're very proud of it's kind

of appropriate that I'm talking to you

from my home office because my home

office is sort of a living Easter egg I

suppose so ever since a bug's life Pixar

film makers have hidden at least one

Easter egg from an upcoming project in

our films now some of these are fairly

obvious some of them are a little more

subtle and there's lots of different

reasons why and how we've done that and

so we're gonna walk through every single

one from the beginning




so a bug's life was our second film came

out in 1998 was the follow-up to Toy

Story and I loved that film I worked on

that film I was the art department

coordinator so I was really involved in

the minutiae and I'd say this is kind of

where the Easter Egg tradition sort of

began right we were just very scrappy

and putting anything we could in that

movie and the specific want to talk

about here cuz it's sort of a so not a

Toy Story – which I hadn't come out yet

was putting woody in one of those funny

little outtakes scenes at the end as a

nod to Toy Story – oh yes

princess hangs about bug's life that's

cool is it's also the first place other

than Toy Story 1 where you see the Pizza

Planet truck and that sort of been this

long-running tradition in terms of the

Pixar Easter eggs we get a lot of credit

for being clever on it but the truth is

in that film we were just more scrappy

than we were clever we just didn't have

a lot of modeling budget to build all

these props we needed for this world and

so I just remember someone pulling the

Pizza Planet truck over from the we

called the digital back lot and using it

at a shot the kind of thinking no one

would notice people noticed and that

became part of our tradition so and I

think bug's life is sort of the point of

origin of this whole conversation

it's another one that's near and dear to

my heart I was the art department

manager on this film and working with

Pete docter kind of for the first time

and we had so much fun putting stuff in

this film and not the film that came out

after that was Finding Nemo so what we

did is we kind of snuck three little

nods to Nemo somewhere a little more

subtle more obvious on this one the

first one if you remember the

Harryhausen's restaurant which of course

Harryhausen's itself is a little Easter

Egg a nod to one of our favorite

animators of all time inside the

restaurant there's murals and we use

kind of the clownfish motif on one of

those murals which was fun there's a

scene in the movie where Randall is

banished out into the world thrown into

some little trailer and on the wall

inside that trailer is if we use the

clownfish model on the walk like it was

caught like a fisherman caught it by the

way that's double prizes because that

trailer is the trailer from a bug's life

we're parked next to the Pizza Planet

truck so that's an easter egg within an

easter egg but my favorite one was at

the end of the movie were where Sullivan

comes back into blues room and he's kind

of putting her her back saying goodbye

and he hands her a bunch of toys one of

which is Jessie but the other one was

literally Nemo

we took the Nemo model that hadn't even

been finished by remember correctly I

think the model was done but hadn't been

articulated and made ready for animation

I think that the character people had to

build one little control of squeezing

because he squeezed him to make a little

squeezy toy sound audience is none the

wiser because of course they haven't

seen Finding Nemo yet but we knew and we

thought that was pretty fun and that

really was the modern first step of the

modern tradition of putting a upcoming

films character or Easter egg in a

current one maybe only speaks whale


finding Nemo which came out in 2003 this

is a fun one because it's two-for-one

easter-egg snuck into this film the

first is in the dentist office if you

look really close there's a family way

there's a little Boyd reading a comic

book the cover is an Incredibles comic

so it's a little nod to to what would be

the Incredibles and mr Incredibles on

there so it's sort of a 2d graphic done

in the art department which we thought

was really cool mr incredible was added

in it was pretty early I think we were

still working on the Incredibles and the

design was probably still being finessed

but mr incredible and probably the

whole family wasn't quite ready for

prime time but I think the graphics and

the drawings were so that's why they're

kind of a comic book version in Finding

Nemo because I don't think we usually

especially in those days we didn't have

time to go in and tweak and make a lot

of additions for these things they're

just kind of fun ways to make a nod to

the next film

here's another bonus one I'm gonna give

you that's not a nod but while I'm here

in that dentist office I remember they

wanted you know in dentist office how

you have kind of funny fake plants they

needed to put some plant set dressing in

the dentist office and they took some of

the palm trees from monsters ink that we

used in the world like the weird monster

ease scaled them way down and put them

in little pots so the plants in the

dentist office were actually monster

trees from monsters in but I'm off to

topic let's get back to future Easter


just like old time Incredibles 2004

Pixar film if you blink you might miss

read the fire truck from the future film

cars actually shows a brief cameo in The

Incredibles read I think sort of fit

Brad's vision of the Incredibles which

is in this kind of 1950s blurry era very

romantic designed world so that's why

he's that thanks this one was a lot of

fun I was working on the film up at the

time and they needed a dog in one of the

montage scenes so the idea was they

wanted to sneak Doug from up what I love

about this one is they did it in a

really clever way because unfortunately

we weren't finished with Doug at the

time his shading and his fern groom and

so forth weren't done so they took Doug

and they just used the model and they

lit it to create the shadow of that

quickly barking as the character runs

through so it's kind of because of that

clever approach is really one of my

favorite one so look close you'll see

the shadow of Doug and ratatouille also

in the apartment if you look close we

snuck in how a little cockroach from

from wall I just kind of run him by

really quickly we figured poor

Linguini's apartment Mike might be the

right place for how to make an

appearance so it's a little nod to who

you'd meet later in wall-e wall-e is

literally a treasure trove of Easter

eggs I mean if you look at Wally's

trailer it's full of stuff it's a little

like the Toy Story for antique mall that

we did years later but one of the

favorite ones of mine in wall-e

again cuz I was working on up at the

time was they took Carl Fredrickson's

you know his cane with the tennis ball

things on the floor

they took his cane and they set dressed

it around there and you can kind of see

it in there twice once when wall-e takes

the magnifier puts it from the iPod

while he's watching the film if you look

just above that you'll see Carl's Walker

and again eye falls off the ceiling of

his truck after it's not there by

later in the film he wali actually

collides with it there so that Walker is

important to us and important to Karl

apparently it's important to Wally


UPS very near and dear to my heart I've

produced this first film I produce so

I'm very very proud of that that film

are fun Easter egg in that film my

favourite scene it's when Karl lifts up

and all the balloons fly his house he

goes away he's kind of crashing things

and going through town we cut to a

little girl in her room who's playing

with toys as the house goes by her

window and if you look closely kind of

near her bed almost under her bed you'll

see a sweet little cute pink teddy bear

turns out that's lots of huggin bear who

we'd meet later in Toy Story 3 the

audience doesn't know yet that he's

actually a pretty bad guy but in that

one shot in that sweet little girl's

room he's just a cute little little

Easter egg that we snuck in I actually

got in trouble on this one because I was

there it came up in some conversation

some interview not unlike this talking

about you know when we were getting

ready to launch up people are asking you

know what kind of things have you have

you snuck in you know even back then

they were asking and I said oh you look

close in the little girl's room you'll

see in the little teddy bear it turns

out that's the villain in Toy Story 3 on

camera like 6 months maybe even a year

before Toy Story 3 came I revealed and

spoiled that lots lots so was the

villain lianca which wasn't happy with

me but anyway we didn't hurt the movie I

guess but I felt bad normal ass


in 2010 we released Toy Story 3 and in

Andy's room he's got a lot of stuff in

there he's a teenage born now so there's

posters and tchotchkes and things like

that if you look really close you'll see

one of his poster is thin McMissile who

you'll meet later

in cars – also this is a really

interesting one this is a deep cut

because also in Andy's room there's a

little Street Sciences new crossing that

sign is a reference to a film we were

working on at the time a film we decided

to actually not put into production for

various reasons but that little sign is

a nod to a film that was never even made

so that's a real deep cut Easter egg and

you know that happens we we developed

these films and there's so many ideas

that never kind of kind of make it

through the creative process of new-new

it was one of them we all really loved

it and so we're kind of happy that it

lives on a little bit in Andy's room

there's anywhere from three to six films

and various stage of development that

Pixar at any given time and you know

half of them you know come through and

you know half of whom evolved into other

ideas part of the creative process

actually something we're really proud of

you know it's it's not a one-to-one

process we've kind of pride ourselves

and working on these stories and

concepts until we fill their movie

worthy and if for whatever reason they

don't kind of make it to that level you

know we move on and get on to the next

thing so it's just part of our creative


the insult we were missing ROTC cars too

came out in 2011 and we were working on

that film we were also working on brave

which would come out in 2012 so this was

challenged because how do you take

something from the Highlands of Scotland

and put it in the world of cars but we

did it if you look close in ye left turn

in in London during the race

there's the dunbroch family tapestry

that you'll see later in brave only it's

a clarified version you know because

everything in world of cars even the

clouds are somehow clarified so this

tapestry was no different which is kind

of cool little nod to brave

brain was tricky because obviously such

a specific era and location but yet we

worked hard so with monsters University

of mind we had this scene in the witch's

Hut with all the wood carving so if you

look closely you'll see Sullivan and

even though Sullivan from monsters

appeared in the original monsters this

was our nod to monsters University and

also special points you look close

you'll see a wood Pizza Planet truck

kind of hidden away so we had to keep

the traditional alive and brave was a

special channels 2013 monsters

University we had these scare games that

was kind of our opportunity to hide

something in there and this in fact was

the good dinosaur good dinosaur gets two

of these do you look closely we got toy

versions of some of the dinosaurs hidden

in the scare games scene which is kind

of fun they sort of seem to fit the

world and again we had to keep that

tradition alive this is an interesting

one because this is two years before

good dinosaur comes out you'll see these

little toys character show up as toys in

monsters University which is a little

bit of a reminder at how glacial are

processes in animation I mean it takes

about anywhere from four to six years to

make one of these films so we usually

have a long runway which gives us the

ability to kind of put things in

previous films as a matter of fact on

good dinosaur it covers two films

because if I jumped ahead to inside out

another film near and dear to my heart

that's the second film I produced we had

this idea of this scene and inside out

where Riley and her family were driving

from Minnesota to San Francisco and they

needed a couple of places to stop along

the way we thought about that you know

that kind of classic roadside weird

California dinosaur out in the desert

and we thought oh my gosh that's perfect

so we took we took a couple of dinosaur

characters they weren't entirely shaded

but that was fun because we reshape them

as like these kind of crummy looking

concrete things that you'd see in a

roadside and that's where mom and dad

and Riley Park and effect poured dad

lets the brake off and it goes right

through you know that the tail goes

through the window so the good dinosaur

got to be Easter eggs in two films

the good dinosaur came out in 2015 we

were working on finding dory so we had

to find a way to keep the tradition

alive with finding Dory so if you look

close the bottom of water in the good

dinosaur when Arlo is learning to swim

you'll look down there you'll see Hank

Hank the octopus from finding dory Hank

is a really complex character we love

him so much so he got to be our little

nod to finding dory the year later so

Hank is an example of kind of what all

these are it's a little bit of using an

existing model or existing character but

more than that sort of a fun look at

what might be ahead for the audience

2016 we released finding Dory follow-up

to Finding Nemo

this one's really fun because it's maybe

the one of the more saw ones the driver

of the truck that's heading for

Cleveland at dinner film driver has a

band-aid and on that band-aid and you

got to look close it's like a kid's

band-aid an image of Lightning McQueen

it's how it is in my house every time I

need a band-aid it's got some character

picks our character on it so this driver

is the same so the Lightning McQueen

bandaid on his hand is arnaud two cars

three that was coming up the following

year it's fun because I think I don't

know if it's a mix of it gets harder and

harder to sneak these in or if it was

just we try to make it harder I don't

know everyone's gonna probably give you

a different answer on that but

nonetheless it's it's a really fun one

because it's so subtle


incarcerate is to to really cool ones

one is Cruz Ramirez who I've loved you

know puts up an image on her display to

motivate kind of the homesick trainee

and that image is the Santa Cecilia you

know gravesite that you'd see later in

cocoa to remind them of home we just

love that set in cocoa and it would seem

like that'd be a place that you yearn

for so it was a kind of a two-for-one

and really work for the story but it was

also kept our tradition alive by showing

a little nod to cocoa there's also the

guitar we stuffed the guitar in which

maybe begs the questions of how cars

might even play a guitar but nonetheless

you know there in the little bar there

at the cotter pin and there's a band

plan so if you look on the wall you'll

see Miguel and the famous silver guitar

from cocoa so it's kind of two dots to

the next year's film cocoa in cars three


in 2017 we released Koko a film were

tremendously proud of this was really

fun because this one has a couple in it

there's a scene when Miguel and Hector

are on their way to the land of the dead

for the first time in this city and all

the sets in Coco are so lush they're so

detailed this is a lot of room to kind

of put stuff in and set dress and if you

look really closely there's an

Incredibles poster on one of the walls

which is clearly a nod to the

Incredibles – that was in production but

also in production during cocoa is Toy

Story 4 so if you look closely towards

the beginning I think what Miguel is

kind of running into the plaza for the

first time after he says hi to Dante

there's a rack of pinatas up on one of

the little storefronts there's a buzz

and woody pinata up there those pinatas

are a good example of how you can't just

throw something from one film into

another you have to honor the era you

have to honor the art direction the tone

the setting of the film and so making

pinatas out of buzz and woody was sort

of the perfect example of how that could



2018 we released Incredibles 2 and at

that time we were working on Toy Story 4

so we wanted to make sure there was a

couple little nods from Toy Story 4 one

of them is seen with the Elastigirl kind

of swing him through the city there's a

billboard that showcases Woody's hat we

had to honor

sheriff woody sort of the epitome of Toy

Story so that was our way to do that

actually I think one of the coolest ones

was a new character is the scene with

Jack Jack he's in his crib in his room

there and we took Duke kaboom the model

of Duke kaboom that no one had met yet

because no one had seen Toy Story 4 and

he's ends up being a little toy in Jack

Jack's crib it's a little quick shot but

we were really happy to see Duke in

there because we love Duke so much I

think Duke also sort of fit the world an

era of The Incredibles because in our

minds Duke is sort of a late 60s early

70s kind of toy that we might have had

and so I think Brad felt he was he was a

good fit for a little Jack Jack so you

think you meet him in Toy Story 4 but he

actually shows up in Incredibles 2 first

let's talk about the theory that comes

up when we often talk about this and I

think the Duke kaboom Easter egg and

Incredibles helped amplify this if

people ask us is the fact that Jack Jack

do kaboom toy proof that all the Pixar

films take place in one universe you

know comes up enough I once asked Andrew

Stanton what's your take Andrew with the

all the films take place in one universe

he said are you kidding you think we're

that smart there's no way – there's no

way that we would be that clever – do it

let the fans think it and and and kind

of draw their own conclusions and so

that's kind of our take it's really just

us being scrappy and having a little bit

of fun but we kind of like that it's

growing into it's its own thing you know

for key 2019 we released Toy Story 4 I'm

very proud of that films it's the third

film I got to produce and work with an

amazing crew it was really fun on that

picture because you have these amazing

sets that were just right for Easter

eggs you have the antique mall which has

everything in it something from every

single Pixar film even the shorts and

then you had the carnival and that's

where we decided we should have our

forward-facing Easter eggs so one of the

things we did because gala Hall are

working on onward we loved honored so

much that we loved that dan you know

Barley's fan with that amazing Pegasus

painting we asked if we could take that

painting and we transposed it onto the

bounce house that's part of the carnival

you know where the toys are in the third

act there so if you look close you'll

see Barley's van painting on a downtown

square for whatever reason we thought it

should be once we put these Easter eggs

in we have to deal with the fact that

our films continue to change and get cut

and added things and so forth and so

yeah once they're in it doesn't mean

they're locked in we still have to roll

with the creative punches on these

things and but we always have made sure

that they show up one one way or another

and of course it started in Toy Story 1

you know the Pizza Planet truck and so

we obviously had to put it in Toy Story

4 but we didn't want to be so obvious

because it just felt like it's somehow

found its way into every film so we had

to really rethink it so he came up with

us I think it was Josh Cooley I don't

remember who came up with this idea but

the Toy Story 4 version of the Pizza

Planet truck is actually seen on a

really ugly calf tattoo on the carnival

worker that is you know Manning the

carnival booth

where duckie and bunny are from and it's

really quick but for some reason that

carnival worker has a tattoo of the

Pizza Planet truck on his leg we were

really proud of ourselves with that one

for some reason the character's name was

Axl after our editor Axl geddens is

voiced by Bill Hader which is funny

because he barely even has a line we

basically hired Bill Hader who we love

and is a friend of ours from inside out

to say what's the line the lines like

you know something he says nothing but

it's Bill Hader back to life that's not

possible it is with this while we were

making on word of course the film that

didn't production down the hall is soul

that hasn't even been released yet but

we had to make sure that we had a little

bit of soul in our own words so in the

family kitchen if you look closer the

cult kind of comes in and you know

knocks everything down it sits down

there there's some records on the table

that I feel a close that's Dorothea

Williams record and everybody knows

Dorothea Williams is the famous jazz

singer that everyone loves in the movie

soul so it's a forward nod to the world

of soul I think the truth about all of

these Easter eggs that point forward is

they're really just a little fun wing of

the audience something that they don't

even know they're seeing but what we

hope with all of our films is that

people watch them multiple times over

over over time and people grow up with

them and families enjoy them and so

what's fun is that helps them age well

in a way is that you'll go see Seoul and

you'll see Dorothea Williams you might

want your rewatching on where our hope

is you oh my gosh look at that little

that it deepens the experience in some

way it's not necessarily anything that

we put a ton of storytelling around it's

not like we're leaving clues to what the

narrative is going to be it's more just

a fun wrapper for the audience and

something fun for our crews to put into

these these pictures there are more

future facing Easter eggs we're pretty

sure if you look

find them


that was about every future

forward-facing Easter egg and a Pixar

movie that I could think that's a lot of

them I hope you enjoyed it and I hope

you stayed tuned because we got a lot of

new movies coming out with a lot of new

forward-facing Easter eggs and they're

gonna be fun to keep looking I promise

you we'll keep the tradition alive so

thank you so much for for watching and


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