Luca director Enrico Casarosa feels like he needs to say sorry to all the people in the world named Bruno.
In his new Pixar movie, Bruno becomes a stand-in character for the nasty voice in your head that tells says you can't do something. That internal fear is the real villain of Luca, and seeing that fear was given a name – Bruno – you can see why Casarosa might feel he did the Brunos of the world dirty.
The jubilant, Italy-set animation is the story of two young sea monsters who embark on an adventure on land, in the world of humans. One of them, Luca, is unsure of everything, afraid that they'll get caught or that they're doing something they shouldn't be.
His friend Alberto is the confident, wild one of the pair, who tells Luca, "Don't listen to stupid Bruno." "Silencio, Bruno!" becomes a catchcry whenever either of them feels held back out of fear.
For the record, despite Casarosa drawing from his own childhood experiences and friendships in crafting Luca, Bruno isn't based on someone specific from his life.
"Bruno was just somehow preposterous-sounding in the way Alberto talks about it," Casarosa told news.com.au. "So, apologies to people named Bruno! It was just very funny, and hopefully they don't get too much of a bad rap from this.
"Actually, I think [Pixar boss] Pete Docter told me he had to email his brother-in-law, I think, because his name is Bruno. He had to email him to say, 'I'm sorry, this was not me'.
"[The idea] came from our writer, Jesse Andrews, who is wonderfully imaginative. We were talking a lot about the idea of how can Alberto be a little bit of a pop psychologist and help Luca with his anxieties? He came up with this wonderfully weird way to give it a name."
Casarosa grew up in Genoa, close to where Luca's fictional fishing village Portorosso exists. The sights and sounds of home are vividly recreated in Luca. Even in animated form, there's an authenticity to the film's backdrops that can only come from Casarosa's lived experience.
Made throughout Covid lockdowns, Luca relied on the skills, flexibility and vision of a creative team who found themselves stranded at home, away from their collaborators.
For Casarosa, it was a unique challenge, especially as it was the first feature film he directed after two decades working on the likes of Cars, Ice Age, Coco and Incredibles 2.
Luca is a personal story for Casarosa, and not just because it's set in his homeland.
He said he wanted to capture the moments and experiences you have as a kid, especially those friendships of opposites. He wanted to tell the story of that friend who metaphorically shoved you off a cliff when you didn't think you were ready.
"There's just some people that really do that in our lives, and then they stay with us in some way because those were such formative years. They're almost architects of us finding our own identity," he said.
"How do you find those people around you that tell you the opposite of the voices in your head? Because it's easy to feel those insecurities. The voices tell you, you can't, it's impostor syndrome. But hopefully you have that friend that is there telling you, "You can, I see you and we can, together'.
"I hope Luca gives [audiences] the courage to chase those dreams with the right support.
"It was important for me to try and capture that."
Luca is streaming now on Disney+