Leah Lewis (Nancy Drew) will voice Ember Lumen, along with star Mamoudou Athie (Jurassic World: Dominion) as Wade Ripple. The project features Pixar veterans like director Peter Sohn (The Good Dinosaur) and producers Pete Docter and Denise Ream. The script comes from Brenda Hsueh and screenwriting duo Kat Likkel and John Hoberg; all three have predominantly worked in television.
Additional cast members were also revealed Tuesday, per Deadline, including Inside Out’s Oscar-nominated co-director Ronnie del Carmen, Shila Ommi (Tehran), Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs), Catherine O’Hara (Schitt’s Creek), Mason Wertheimer, and Joe Pera.
Elemental’s official plot synopsis reads, “Set in Element City, where fire-, water-, land- and air residents live together. The story introduces Ember, a tough, quick-witted, and fiery young woman whose friendship with a fun, sappy, go-with-the-flow guy named Wade challenges her beliefs about the world they live in.”
In an interview with Collider, Sohn spoke about how the movie was inspired by a personal story about his immigrant parents. “That personal hook was definitely a driver and a North Star for me in terms of thanking our parents and just hitting these themes of a culture clash. But it’s not an autobiography, so there is a way to disconnect from [my story],” he said.
The director added, “Obviously, I’m not an element, but some of the themes come from a real place. … Something about these themes is just very universal, so that’s been great fuel to make this, but at the same time, it is vulnerable. I can’t lie, it’s a vulnerable act to just go, ‘Oh, right, these are some of the issues that I had with my parents and with trying to fit into a country that I was born in.’ It’s getting naked all the time, and having people judge it, so that will hurt. But at the same time, it’s made by so many people that I can’t take all the credit.”
In addition to the Elemental, Disney and Pixar will release a short film sequel to box office hit Up, titled Carl’s Date. The short will follow the protagonist’s first date after his wife Ellie’s passing. In 2009, Up was widely successful, earning $735.1 million with a 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Carl’s Date will play in theaters right before Elemental, which premieres June 16.