JOY (voice of Amy Poehler)
Joy’s goal has always been to make sure Riley stays happy. She is lighthearted, optimistic and determined to find the fun in every situation. Joy sees challenges in Riley’s life as opportunities, and the less happy moments as hiccups on the way back to something great. As long as Riley is happy, so is Joy.
FEAR (voice of Bill Hader)
Fear’s main job is to protect Riley and keep her safe. He is constantly on the lookout for potential disasters, and spends time evaluating the possible dangers, pitfalls and risk involved in Riley’s everyday activities. There are very few activities and events that Fear does not find to be dangerous and possibly fatal.
ANGER (voice of Lewis Black)
Anger feels very passionately about making sure things are fair for Riley. He has a fiery spirit and tends to explode (literally) when things don’t go as planned. He is quick to overreact and has little patience for life’s imperfections.
DISGUST (voice of Mindy Kaling)
Disgust is highly opinionated, extremely honest and prevents Riley from getting poisoned — both physically and socially. She keeps a careful eye on the people, places and things that Riley comes into contact with — whether that’s broccoli or last year’s fashion trend. Disgust always has the best of intentions and refuses to lower her standards.
SADNESS (voice of Phyllis Smith)
None of the other Emotions really understand what Sadness’s role is. Sadness would love to be more optimistic and helpful in keeping Riley happy, but she finds it so hard to be positive. Sometimes it seems like the best thing to do is just lie on the floor and have a good cry.
Unfortunately, Pixar hasn’t released the official character bios for any of the human characters, like Riley and her parents, as well as Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong.
But I absolutely love the ideas behind each of these characters, especially Fear, Anger, and Disgust. When you watch the trailer, it’s easy to find these emotions less “important” because they mess everything up without Joy and Sadness around. It’s sort of easy to look down on them for being themselves.
These character descriptions go a long way toward generating real depth to these emotions. Anger isn’t just angry because he’s voiced by Lewis Black. He has a real interest in making sure the world is “fair” for Riley. Fear is simply trying to protect her. In the same way, Disgust preserves Riley’s true sense of self. That’s just good writing.
Interestingly, Sadness is the least fleshed out, which is surely intentional. Her motivations are something we’ll have to see pan out over the course of about an hour and a half. Is it June yet?