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'Inside Out's' Bing Bong Was Inspired by John Candy in 'Planes, Trains, and Automobiles'

Meriah Doty
·Editor
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Inside Out’s breakout character Bing Bong wasn’t always pink.

In this exclusive look above at a bonus clip from the movie’s new Blu-ray release, we get a glimpse at some early versions of Riley’s long-lost imaginary friend from Pixar’s animated blockbuster. Lead animator Chris Sasaki shows off some of his early sketches including versions of Bing Bong with feathered wings and another rough drawing with red polka dots.

In the movie, the character is memorably voiced by Richard Kind, but it was another actor who inspired Sasaki’s drawings. “I remember [writer-director] Pete Docter telling me to think about John Candy from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” Sasaki tells Yahoo Movies of Candy’s hilariously clueless travel companion from the 1987 comedy. “With every drawing, I tried to keep John Candy’s voice and performance in the back of my mind.”

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John Candy, right, in ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.’ (Photo: Everett Collection)

Bing Bong also reflects Docter’s own imaginary childhood friend, who happened to be an elephant. But early on, Sasaki was instructed to add other animal features — hence the wings in those early sketches. “We tried rabbit ears, whiskers, different kinds of tails, moose antlers, alligator feet, butterfly and bird wings,” says Sasaki. “We soon realized some features became distracting.”

A lot of thought also went into Bing Bong’s shabby clown costume. “We wanted him to feel like a washed-up performer,” Sasaki says. “We were inspired by Vaudevillian hobo attire.” The animator tied in the same patterns from Riley’s pajamas, bed sheets, and wallpaper into his clothes, in order to connect him to her childhood memories.

Inside Out is available on demand and in a Blu-ray 3D combo pack Nov. 3. (And it’s on digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere now.)