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Pixar Director Kevin Nolting Reveals What It's Really Like To Work With Tina Fey - Exclusive

Just because their faces don't appear onscreen, doesn't mean a powerhouse cast can't elevate an animated project. Behind the Oscar-winning Pixar film, "Soul," was longtime Pixar director Pete Docter, editor extraordinaire Kevin Nolting — and powerhouse voice talent like Tina Fey, Jon Batiste, and Jamie Foxx. 

In "Soul," Fey plays 22, a lost and somewhat obstinate little soul in the Great Before, who needs a little help finding her spark. The character was so popular, that Tina Fey is back at it again, playing 22 in a new Disney+ short that explores how 22 became 22. Also returning is Nolting, who stepped out of the editing bay and into the director's chair for this diminutive prequel, entitled "22 vs. Earth." The short takes us back before the events of "Soul," uncovering 22's past and shedding some light on how she became so jaded.

During an exclusive interview, Looper chatted with director Kevin Nolting, during which he revealed what it was like working with Tina Fey on the follow-up to "Soul."

Tina Fey vs. Zoom

If you've ever wondered how celebrities have been handling quarantine and the pandemic, the answer is: about the same as everyone else. Between interrupted Zoom calls, difficulty adjusting to permanent work from home, and homeschooling unruly children — the struggles sound really familiar.

On working with Tina Fey, one of the most celebrated "SNL" cast members of all time, Nolting revealed, "I had been part of the recording sessions for 'Soul.' So, I've worked with her over the years, but the short, we recorded her in two weeks into COVID, work from home. So, everybody was getting used to Zoom, and simply, we hadn't recorded a lot of dialogue remotely ... fortunately, her husband has a home recording studio she could work out of, but she was like the rest of us: Her daughter was home from school, and she had to interrupt the session to go set her up with a remote class. It's like a little slice of life." 

It certainly helps to have a recording studio at home, though.

Finding 22's soul

Regarding what fans of "Soul" will love most about the prequel, the director said, "I'm hoping they love the fact they learn a little bit more about 22. Just the way we get involved for us, as we were making 'Soul,' we explored Joe's life in great detail, but the story didn't call for that amount of detail with 22 — other than those little snippets with the mentors," he said. 

Nolting added, "So, as we were making 'Soul,' certainly we talked a lot about what made 22, 22. We joked about it. We had a lot of funny ideas — incidents that led to the character she is. So, the short is just an extension of that, I think." The extra time with Tina Fey's 22 is, indeed, the main attraction of "22 vs. Earth." Fans who fell in love with the character in "Soul" won't be disappointed by this heartfelt expansion of her backstory.

Check out Tina Fey's new voice work, and discover how 22 came to despise Earth in "22 vs. Earth," streaming now on Disney+.