In Incredibles 2, Helen Parr/Elastigirl gets a job, and her new boss, wealthy businessman Winston Deavor, offers her and her family a home “so big, it was uncomfortable for them.”
Brad Bird had been trying to find a way to consolidate the film’s first act, along with conveying the fact that the family is feeling uneasy in their new role and wants to get out of the hotel in which they are living. Production designer Ralph Eggleston says he asked, “What if [Deavor] offers them his home?”
This wasn’t an easy task, as the team had already built a new house for the superhero family. “It was well on its way when story consolidation necessitated us making a fairly big decision, which was to throw the entire set away — which we spent maybe six months on — and build a bigger house,” Eggleston recalls. “And we only had six weeks.”
The time period for the film is never conveyed, but Eggleston says he always envisioned the events of 2004’s The Incredibles occurring in the mid-to-late ’50s and early ’60s. “Although the film’s story takes place moments after the last film, I wanted to visually update it in terms of time period, so I pushed it to about 1967.”
The team went to Palm Springs for research into this period’s architecture. “Palm Springs midcentury architecture is very specific to Palm Springs,” Eggleston says. “We garnered a lot of information, and then we also looked at a lot of reference from the East Coast and the Midwest as well — ‘If they lived in a cold climate, what would they have had in terms of a midcentury home?’ “
The work of architectural photographer Ezra Stoller also was used for inspiration. “Most of his famous black-and-white photographs are midcentury architecture,” Eggleston explains, adding that for lighting design, they watched such Douglas Sirk films as Written on the Wind, All That Heaven Allows and Imitation of Life. “The films are melodramatic,” Eggleston notes, “but the style and the look of the films and certainly the lighting of the films heavily influenced Incredibles 2.”
This story first appeared in a February stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.