Elemental: A Tale of Fire and Water Characters Voiced by Leah Lewis and Mamoudou Athie

Unique voice casting approach: Director Peter Sohn employed an innovative approach to casting the characters in Elemental. He sought voice actors whose performances could align with the elemental identities of their characters. Leah Lewis was chosen for the role of Ember due to her ability to convey smoky tones and a range of emotions, while Mamoudou Athie's portrayal of emotional distress secured him the role of Wade.
Creation of an original language: Elemental stands out from other Pixar movies by featuring an original language for its characters. Linguist David Peterson, known for creating Game of Thrones' Dothraki language, designed a new language based on the sound of fire. The team transformed fire sound effects into a unique and performative language, departing from using ambient fire crackling noises.
Unconventional setting: The film takes place in Element City, where beings of fire, water, earth, and air coexist. Director Peter Sohn drew inspiration from his own Korean immigrant story in creating a fire family navigating life in Element City and establishing a shop called "The Fireplace." Sohn aimed for the elemental cultures to be relatable and universal, avoiding specific ties to real-world cultures.
High expectations and buzz: Elemental has generated anticipation and positive early reactions. Previewed at CinemaCon, the film received high ratings from Jessica Rawden of CinemaBlend. The trailer hints at a romance between Ember and Wade, drawing inspiration from Sohn's own interracial relationship.
A unique blend of elements: Pixar's Elemental promises to challenge the boundaries of conventional storytelling with its blend of elemental characters, original language, and a compelling narrative. Audiences can look forward to experiencing this unique cinematic experience when the film releases on June 16, 2023.


Pixar’s upcoming film, Elemental, boasts an impressive voice cast. The studio has tasked Leah Lewis and Jurassic World Dominion’s Mamoudou Athie with breathing life into the characters of Ember and Wade, respectively.

Director Peter Sohn’s innovative approach to the casting process hinged on the idea of aligning the characters’ elemental identities with their vocal performances.

Ember, a fiery figure, needed a voice actor who could deliver smoky tones, while also conveying an array of emotions, from hot-tempered to vulnerable.

Lewis, known for her nuanced performance in The Half of It, proved perfect for this role.

Sohn was particularly taken by Lewis’s ability to straddle authenticity and sincerity with a smoky undertone.

Her performance displayed the required dynamism and depth, from tender moments to those that required a powerful vocal force.

Athie’s casting as Wade, on the other hand, largely came down to his portrayal of emotional distress.

Sohn was particularly captivated by Athie’s performance in Oh Jerome, No, where his character endures a heartrending breakup.

His sincere yet amusing display of crying was a defining factor in securing his role in Elemental, as Sohn found it to be both touching and comedic.

Pixar’s upcoming film, Elemental, boasts an impressive voice cast. The studio has tasked Leah Lewis and Jurassic World Dominion’s Mamoudou Athie with breathing life into the characters of Ember and Wade, respectively.

Crafting an Original Language

What sets Elemental apart from other Pixar movies is the creation of an original language for the characters.

This new language, designed by David Peterson, the linguist behind Game of Thrones’ Dothraki language, is based on the sound of fire.

Originally, the filmmakers had contemplated using ambient fire crackling noises for the characters’ dialogues.

However, they eventually decided to take a more creative approach. Peterson and the team worked tirelessly to transform fire sound effects into a unique and performative language.

An Unconventional Setting

Elemental is set in a world named Element City, where beings of fire, water, earth, and air coexist.

The film follows a fire family, inspired by Sohn’s own Korean immigrant story, as they navigate life in Element City and establish a shop called “The Fireplace.”

Despite the fantastical setting, Sohn was keen on ensuring the elements’ cultures were universal and not tied to specific real-world cultures.

He sought to create a balance between the elemental aspect of the characters and their relatability to avoid making them seem alien.

High Expectations for Elemental

Pixar’s Elemental has already generated a buzz. CinemaBlend’s Jessica Rawden, who previewed the first 20 minutes of the film in 3D at CinemaCon, rated it highly.

The film’s trailer teases a budding romance between Ember and Wade, inspired by Sohn’s own interracial relationship.

Elemental promises a unique blend of elemental characters, original language, and compelling narrative that challenges the boundaries of conventional storytelling.

Audiences will finally get to see if fire and water can mix when Elemental hits theaters on June 16, 2023.


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