First Look: Meet Joe Gardner from Pixar’s ‘Soul’ in First Official Screenshot

Meet Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx) from Pixar’s Soul, Pete Docter’s upcoming film set to release on June 19, 2020.
Soul Joe Gardner Teaser Image

Announced in June of this year, Pete Docter’s upcoming film, Soul will have you wondering “what makes you…YOU”. The storyline dabbles into metaphysics (which, according to Wikipedia, is a branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between potentiality and actuality), and follows the journey of middle-school band teacher Joe Gardner (voiced by Jamie Foxx), Pixar’s first African American lead character.

Joe who has had a lifelong dream of playing music at the legendary, Half Note Jazz Club (most likely a nod to the Blue Note Jazz Club in NY) finally gets his chance, however a single unexpected step sends him to the cosmic realms where he finds the “You Seminar” — a fantastical place where Joe meets 22 (voiced by Tina Fey), a soul who loathes humans and avoids earth.

Pixar Soul Logo

Today, EW shared a first look at a screenshot from the film showcasing Joe Gardner walking through New York City in a hurried manner and most likely bragging about the dream gig he just landed (this screenshot is most likely from the footage shown at the 2019 D23 Expo – more details below).

Pixar Soul writer and co-director, Kemp Powers shares, “For anyone who has a profession in the creative arts, it’s an almost religious obsessiveness you have to have to have success and a career in the arts. At any point, no matter how happy you are doing what you do, it feels like that obsessiveness is detrimental to the rest of your life.”
At Pixar, story is always a personal journey from the eyes and heart of the filmmakers and director Pete Docter shares with EW the passion and struggles that he shares with character Joe Gardner, “I’ve been doing animation for 30 years,” he says. “I love it, I can’t get enough of it, and then I also recognize this is not the end-all, be-all of everything.” 

He recognizes that, without that obsessiveness to write, he wouldn’t be where he is today. But, at the same time, “there are children and life experiences and food and all these other things in the world that you can’t say are less important than animation. I would maybe have said that at certain times in my life.”

While Pixar fans have expressed the possible similarities between Inside Out and Soul on the Pixar Post Forum, producer Dana Murray shared that the team will indeed take us to a world where no one has ever been, she also noted, “We went in a completely different direction than any of the other films that Pete’s done, it’s hard to contain our enthusiasm over how much people are going to be surprised by what they see.”

Wow, “hard to contain our enthusiasm.” That is a statement that takes a stance and we love it. What could this different direction be?

Pixar Soul 22 Character Artwork


Going back to the D23 Expo which took place in August 2019, let’s recap what has previously been known.

SlashFilm shared the full description of the clip which was screened at the D23 Expo as well as some additional thoughts:

“In the clip, Joe runs through the streets of New York City, making his way to a jazz restaurant to play piano. Joe believes his purpose on this planet is to play, declaring, “It’s what I was meant to do, and nothing’s gonna stop me.” When he finally gets the gig of his dreams, Joe gets on his cellphone to brag, narrowly avoiding getting hit by cars and construction, only to fall down a sewer opening. When he opens his eyes, he’s surrounded by blackness and finds himself back in the You Seminar and himself colored all blue. “If this place looks familiar, it’s because you’ve been here before,” someone tells Joe, as the place becomes filled with pavilions where different personality traits are held.

Here, Joe meets a new soul named “22” — the last digits in a number in the billions. Because 22 doesn’t yet have a person, she looks like a big green creature with a big head, nobody, and white buckteeth. Joe discovers that in order to return to Earth, he must travel to the impossibly vast cosmic realms. Through this journey, he will learn what it’s like to have a soul.”

Soul Character Artwork for Joe Gardner


  • Joe Gardner — Jamie Foxx
  • Libba (Joe’s Mother) — Phylicia Rashād
  • Paul (Joe’s nemesis and neighbor) — Daveed Diggs
  • #22 — Tina Fey
    • Tina Fey lends her voice to a new soul named 86 billion, 783 million, 123 thousand, five hundred and 22—or just 22 for short—who’s been at the seminar for so long, she’s developed a unique view of Earth: It’s terrible.
  • Curly — Ahmir “Quest Love” Thompson


WHAT MAKES YOU… YOU? — Ever wonder where your passion, your dreams, and your interests come from? Disney and Pixar’s Soul journeys from the streets of New York City to the never-before-seen cosmic realms and “The You Seminar,” the fantastical place where we all discover our unique personalities. Directed by Academy Award® winner Pete Docter (Inside Out, Up), co-directed by Kemp Powers and produced by Academy Award® nominee Dana Murray (Pixar short Lou), and featuring the voices of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Phylicia Rashād, Daveed Diggs and Ahmir Questlove Thompson.


Release Date — June 19, 2020
Director — Pete Docter
Co-Director — Kemp Powers
Producer — Dana Murray
Writer — Mike Jones
Composer — Jon Batiste
Score — Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

What are your thoughts? Chat with other Pixar fans in the Pixar Post Forum Soul thread.

Pixar Post — Julie & T.J.

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