"Soul" takes animated films to a new level, not only with its philosophical themes about the meaning of life, but also as the first in Pixar's 25-year history of feature films with a predominantly black cast.
With Jamie Foxx as an aspiring jazz pianist whose life has not turned out the way he wanted it to be, the family film "Soul" will premiere on Christmas Day on the Disney + streaming service.
Voice actors include Phylicia Rashad, Questlove, Angela Bassett and Daveed Diggs, with Jon Batiste playing the jazz music.
Co-director and writer Pete Docter said "Soul" wasn't aiming to be about a black person.
“It was just a movie that was very much in line with my own experience. And the decision to make him a jazz musician made us feel that it was the right and appropriate choice to make him black too, ”said Docter.
Foxx, who won an Oscar for musician Ray Charles in 2005, welcomed the chance to take on the role.
“I really wanted people to see this – Pixar Disney's first African American leadership. We need that you know " he said.
After an opening in New York City, Foxx's character falls into a manhole and finds himself in the Great Before, where he has to care for another lost soul voiced by Tina Fey.
Docter said the film was triggered by his own thoughts about life.
"A lot of us need to figure out what the hell is going on, what we're doing with our lives … why are we here and what should we do to get the most of it?"
Fey called the film a Christmas present after a year of challenges from the coronavirus pandemic.
"We've been through so much. We had to ask big questions about our lives and what we're afraid of. And so hopefully it will be a joyful gift for people to watch their families during the Christmas break," said Fey.
(Reporting by Rollo Ross; writing by Jill Serjeant; editing by Lisa Shumaker)