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'A Bug's Life' buzzing to big screen

Web posted on:
Wednesday, November 25, 1998 12:04:37 PM EST

From Correspondent Dennis Michael

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- They call it an epic of miniature proportions.

"A Bug's Life" stars the voices of Dave Foley, David Hyde Pierce and Phyllis Diller. But perhaps the most amazing performance comes from the technology. Pixar, which brought movie fans the three-dimensional cartoon "Toy Story," now takes animation a step further with "A Bug's Life."

"A simple rule of thumb is that the more geometric something is," explains director John Lasseter, "the easier it is to reproduce on a computer. The more organic something is, the more difficult it is to reproduce on computer. And so, hence, 'Toy Story' was the perfect story for our first film -- man-made world, man-made environment, flat floors. 'A Bug's Life,' there is nothing geometric about this movie."

"A Bug's Life" is also animated in a wide-screen format, but to Pixar the technology is only a means to an end.

"The big myth is that we want to make the best computer-animated movie in the world," says co-director Andrew Stanton. "And it's like, no. We want to make the best movie we can make."


How do you prepare to play a bug? Says Dave Foley, it's not easy: "The important thing to remember is that bugs don't actually talk."

Read the CNN Interactive interview here.

Being a bug

The creators say casting played a huge role in the film. Despite the fact that the actors aren't seen, their personalities are seen in each character.

Foley, who plays the film's hero Flik, feels that his personality did transfer to his six-legged alter ego.

"It even looks a little like me," says Foley of Flik. "He's got my eyes, my great big bulbous eyes, and he has my stammer, (and) that affects your facial features when you stammer."

"It's very humbling," says Pierce, who plays Slim, a walking stick. "As you're sitting there, watching, and the character does some wonderful thing, you think, 'Oh that was good.' But it wasn't me. It was them. They did that. It is definitely being a piece of a huge puzzle."

Pig to bug

John Ratzenberger, who voiced a piggybank in "Toy Story," is the only actor to return in "A Bug's Life."

"I went from a pig to a bug," says Ratzenberger. "They didn't teach us that in acting school. I think I was absent that day."

Diller is the queen of the ant colony.

"It's a certain kind of immortality, because those Disney films do go on and on and on," says Diller.

And so does Pixar's partnership with Disney. Lasseter and company are returning to the playroom for a "Toy Story II," and they have bigger plans beyond that, but say they're keeping it under wraps until the time is right.

But it's bound to be big, no matter how small the setting.

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