‘Inside Out 2’ star Maya Hawke talks anxiety: “This film makes it feel ‘less alienating’”

From left to right: Maya Hawke in a press interview, her character Anxiety in the movie Inside Out 2

In the Pixar sequel “Inside Out 2,” teenage Riley and her emotions (Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, Disgust) are thrown for a loop when puberty causes a new lineup of feelings to come running through her brain. 

In the animated film, “Stranger Things” star Maya Hawke voices one of the newest emotions: Anxiety

Anxiety is something Hawke is all too familiar with. And ironically, she is currently living through what she considers the most anxiety-inducing part of working in film — press coverage. 

“This part makes me the most anxious,” Hawke said, gesturing around the press room as she and co-star Amy Poehler were interviewed by The Wrap

She went on to clarify that promoting “Inside Out 2” has been unique because it’s “so wonderful” to talk about the film and meet her fellow co-stars outside of the recording booth. But the stress still lingers. 

“Most of the time, the part that makes me nervous is the putting stuff out, promoting stuff part,” Hawke continued. “Like, the getting dressed up, trying to look good, I hope people like me, I hope people like it, bahhhhh!” 

This past month — in a variety of television appearances and press interviews — Hawke has opened up more and more about her own experiences with anxiety, and the stressful, jittery thought spirals that accompany it. 

“I think that I’m really lucky in my own life, in that I don’t have any emotions that are ‘full time’ out of control,” the 25-year-old actress said in an interview with eTalk. “But if I have an emotion that gets out of control, it probably is anxiety.” 

Hawke explained that one of the ways her anxiety surfaces is through hypochondria, when the “little voice in her head” spirals out of control. 

“It’ll be like: ‘Hey, so what do you think? I have a little bit of pain in my tooth, do you think that I’m going to have a root canal that’s gonna turn into a brain tumor and a heart attack?” Hawke recalled in an interview with CBS Mornings. “‘Do you think that my heart’s going to explode because of the pain in my tooth? Do you think?’”

Overtime, Hawke said that she started to use that “little voice” as a coping mechanism, and tries to laugh at herself when her anxiety gets caught in a catastrophic loop. 

“One way that I learned to deal with my own anxiety was to create a little voice for her, in my own head,” Hawke said. “I transformed that character I use for myself in my own life into this character.” 

One highlight? Her anxiety helped her get the part in the Pixar film, which she considers “the honor of a lifetime.” 

“I actually saw the drawing of Anxiety while I was in the audition process and I just thought, ‘I have to play this part,’” Hawke said in a Disney exclusive

“And it was incredibly rewarding to see the end result. In fact, some of the hand gestures and little movements that I did during the voice recording made it into the way the character was animated, which was just the coolest thing to see.” 

Overall, Hawke hopes that her film helps people know that they are not alone in their anxiety, no matter how isolating it can feel. 

“This movie is just a force for good. It’s like a double rainbow,” Hawke told Disney. “It takes so many tough emotions that everyone experiences — not just teenagers — and actualizes those emotions in a way that makes them feel less alienating or stressful.”

Header photos via Disney Pixar/YouTube

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June 13, 2024 12:08 PM
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