Brazilian actress Alice Braga (TV’s Queen of the South) has some deep thoughts about her new animated film Soul.
“We always think, ‘What is afterlife?’” Braga told NBC News. “But we never think, ‘Is there something that comes before us arriving here?’”
In the Pixar movie, which hit Disney+ on Christmas Day, Braga lends her voice to the supporting character Jerry, a “counselor” who works inside the interdimensional realm known as the Great Before (rebranded as the You Seminar). This is where counselors guide souls and give each of them a personality before they are placed inside newborn babies.
There are many counselors that inhabit the Great Beyond and all of them are named Jerry. Also, all of them look similar, each made of fluid lines that are constantly moving and changing shape. None of the counselors have the same voice. Braga gives voice to the first Jerry audiences meet when main character Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a middle-school band teacher and jazz musician, dies on Earth and his soul is transported to the afterlife.
Unwilling to follow the light to the Great Beyond, Joe’s soul finds a way into the Great Before where he meets Braga’s Jerry who is trying to keep all the new souls from bothering Joe too much. Braga’s Jerry thinks Joe is a “mentor,” who helps news souls find their “spark”—their passion for life—which they need to be assigned before making their way to Earth and inside the body they will inhabit.
“I am the coming together of all quantized fields of the universe—appearing in a form your feeble human brain can comprehend,” Braga’s Jerry explains to Joe when he asks who she is. “You can call me Jerry.”
After explaining to Joe that he is not in either Heaven or Hell and that his “body is in a holding pattern,” she offers to give him a ride back to join the other mentors, but Joe takes advantage of the quick tour and tries to find a way to get back to his old body on Earth.
When it comes to individual personalities, Braga thinks everyone has “one personality but so many ways of reacting to different things.”
“That was what really sparked my attention,” Braga says. “I think through emotions we can connect with people and we can make change.”