Who and what is Ennui, the mysterious new character in Pixar's Inside Out 2?

Ennui is one of the antagonists of the sequel, which is scheduled to be released this summer

As protagonist Riley turns 15, the Inside Out sequel adds new emotions to the plot including Envy and Ennui, right. Photo: Disney
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The sequel to the Pixar favourite Inside Out brings a new human emotion to life: boredom. More specifically, the feeling of low effort and jadedness that takes over during teenage years.

Known as Ennui, the character is one of the new antagonists who will join the story's core team of emotions: Fear, Anger, Joy, Disgust and Sadness. The first animated film follows Riley and her emotions after her family moves to San Francisco from Minnesota. Aged 11 in the original, the sequel returns as she's 15 and navigating the throes of teenage life.

Here are the new characters, and emotions, fans can expect to see.

The three Es

Alongside, Ennui, Riley now has to deal with Envy and Embarrassment. Plus, perhaps most antagonistic of all, Anxiety. However, while all the other emotions seem relatively straightforward, Ennui is somewhat enigmatic.

The feeling of "ennui" is suspended somewhere between being bored, jaded, listless and having a lack of mental stimulation. Dissecting the word’s etymology also reveals another layer. Ennui, which means the same in French, is derived from the Late Latin word "inodiare". The word is the same root that forms "annoy" and hints at the irritation that ennui evokes.

Where does the word come from?

Ennui may sound like a relatively recent entry to the English lexicon, but its use dates back centuries. Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the US, mentions ennui in a letter dated 1787, where he writes “of the days of life [that] are consumed, one by one, without an object beyond the present moment”. An 1823 work by English poet Charles Lloyd is titled Stanzas to Ennui. American poet Sylvia Plath also has a poem dedicated to unravelling this anxious state, a sonnet simply dubbed Ennui.

However, ennui has gained a novel resonance in the modern era, and its eponymous character Inside Out 2 will be exploring how.

How is Ennui depicted on screen?

Styled in indigo with a long tapering nose and shimmering straight hair, Ennui’s listlessness is best captured in her eyes and deadpan expression. She is dressed in relaxed, loose-fitting clothing, and is always seen with her phone in hand, swiping with disinterest at the screen. In the trailer for Inside Out 2, she gives a sense of the emotion it strives to embody. Aloof from the rest of the group, she lays on the couch, staring sleepily at her phone – a state that seems in line with how teenagers (and adults) express their boredom. As Joy struggles to pronounce her name in the trailer, Ennui says, in a dull French accent: “It’s what you would call the boredom.”

Ennui is voiced by Adele Exarchopoulos, a French actress known for her work in the 2013 film Blue is the Warmest Colour. Other new cast members include Maya Hawke as Anxiety, Paul Walter Hauser as Embarrassment, and Ayo Edebiri as Envy. The film will also include stars who appeared in the first film, including Amy Poehler (Joy), Liza Lapira (Disgust), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), Lewis Black (Anger) and Tony Hale (Fear). Kensington Tallman will be taking the role of teenage Riley, whereas Kyle MacLachlan and Diane Lane will be portraying Riley’s parents.

Inside Out 2 is scheduled to be released in June

Updated: March 27, 2024, 11:06 AM