One of the most adorable, and memorable, new characters in Monsters University is Scott “Squishy” Squibbles, one of the boys of Oozma Kappa. But Squishy wasn’t voiced by some Hollywood star, no, he was voiced by one of Pixar’s own, Peter Sohn. And this isn’t the first time you’ve heard Peter: he also voiced Emile in Ratatouille and was the visual inspiration for visual inspiration for Russell from Up. He also wrote and directed the short Partly Cloudy.
Who is Peter Sohn:
I’ve worked here at Pixar for about 11 years. And, I’m lucky enough to be playing Squishy, the chubby guy with the hat and a bunch of eyes. And it’s been really fun.
How did he get the role?
It’s funny. I’ve played Emile in Ratatouille, and it was like “you’re chubby, you’ll eat funny food, so why don’t you play this guy?” I’m like “okay”. It’s kind of like “you’re chubby, and you’re kinda nerdy too. So why don’t you give this a shot?” Um, it’s funny.
I’m in story, and so I’m pitching stuff, and as you’re pitching stuff you do voices. But this was a straight on kinda casting call for the thing where they wanted me specifically. So it was just Dan (the director) and Cory (the producer) asking to come on down and do the scratch for it. And do you know what the scratch voices are? What scratch voices means is the temporary voice just to put something in there just to feel out how the story’s going to work.
That’s how I started with this fake dialogue stuff and then it became permanent. It’s really interesting ’cause working here at Pixar and then doing voices, it’s just like it’s kinda this give and take with all the other productions here ’cause it’s so familiar. When you’re in such a family, you want to do whatever you can for each other. So if someone’s just like,”could you quickly come down for ten minutes and just scream into the microphone about your mom.” Uh, yeah, sure. “Mom!” It’s this give and take that’s really fantastic here,they allow this kind of creed of freedom, you can do this, and then you can try this as well.
What he does when he’s not doing voice?
Well, I started here as a character designer on Finding Nemo in 2000. And then I moved into story on that on production. And then I’ve been in animation. So I’ve been in many departments. But currently I’m co-directing, The Good Dinosaur with Bob Peterson and that’s coming out in 2014. And, it’s gonna be great. But I’ve been all over the place here. It’s been amazing, that this place allows you to just move around into what you’re interested in and what you want to learn about. You know, Pixar’s great about that.
What do you like about your character?
I like that he’s so sincere about like kind of naïve things. There’s a scene in there where the Mike and Sully want to throw a party. And he’s like this is great, “grab some couch cushions ’cause we’re gonna build a fort.” You know, I totally connect with that type of guy just ’cause that’s how I grew up with my cousins. We didn’t have the Internet. So the world was so like out there. For us it was just like, “Oh my God. You have the one piece of Lego,” like whatever that is that you can just nerd out for a while.
It was that naïve sincerity that I really really liked about him. And then Julia Sweeney plays Ms. Squibbles, his mom. I got to have lunch with her, she’s so brilliant. And then like seeing how he’s embarrassed of his mom but still totally like, yeah, that’s–”that’s my mom”. He still loves her but totally living this weird 30-year-old living with his mom kind of feeling of it.
I totally understand it, connect with it as well. It’s not a stretch. Seriously, it’s not a stretch at all what that character is.
What about your dinosaur movie?
It’s gonna be pretty epic. It’s really gonna be awesome and we’re in the middle of production right now. The train is (going and) people are boarding and we’ve got to build everything and animate everything. I had dinosaur love from really early on. Who didn’t? But it’s just about trying make these characters as real and sincere as possible.
What scares you?
What scares me? Okay, I’m gonna get real now. I have a three-year-old daughter and this six-month-old baby now. And now what scares me is– this is gonna sound so sappy– but like I had no idea having kids that they will be able to break your heart purposely one day if you know what I mean. Like, in the beginning, it’s like, oh, wow. I love you. You love me. That’s great. And now that the love has grown so much they have that ability now that like “I hate you, Daddy.” Oh my God! How can you say that? I’m so terrified of that just ’cause of what I did to my parents, I know it’s coming. Um, that’s– that’s oh so sad.
What advice would you give to young people?
I call it love the tree, you know? And what I– and I always talk about this because– and what that means is like love it whole-heartedly. And in doing so you’ll start finding all the other branches of it. And then you start to learn everything about it. And the more knowledge you have something about it, the more you begin to understand and the more you love it and you become so passionate about it that you can’t help but do it.
Kick off a Monstrous Summer and get more info at Disney Parks.