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MIKE WAZOWSKI's lifelong dream is to become a Scarer at Monsters, Inc. -- and he's sure he knows just how to do it. Ever since he was a young monster, Mike's had his eye on Monsters University, home of the monster world's top Scare Program. Now a freshman and hopeful Scare student, he's well versed in the rich history, theory and technique required to reach his goal, and the little green one-eyed monster has more confidence, enthusiasm, determination and heart than all of his classmates combined. Then he meets James P. Sullivan -- Sulley -- and life gets tricky. "He gets little guy's disease bad," says Crystal, who returns to Pixar's recording studios, giving voice, humor and a heightened level of emotion to Mike. "He has a chip on his shoulder when it comes to Sulley -- this big handsome monster who's everything Mike really wants to be."

The problem, of course, is that Sulley fails to nurture his natural abilities, while Mike works extra hard -- to little avail. "This movie does something that is rarely done," says Scanlon. "It shows someone who has a dream and a desire that doesn't work out the way he expects it to. I think that happens to everyone in some way or another, so we really wanted this movie to show that sometimes when you reach those walls, there's something better around the corner. It's not the end of the world. Mike Wazowski is the perfect guy to tell that story."

Crystal says that for monsters, the characters are surprisingly human. "It's easy to think that these characters can't possibly have any depth or feelings because they're monsters, but they do," says Crystal. "They're young men figuring out who they are and what they want in life -- and then what life actually has in store for them. What's great about these movies is that they don't just entertain, they also have a wonderful message." And going back in time is sort of a bonus, adds the actor. "Suddenly, we're 18 years old. They made us look younger and thinner. I wish life could work that way."

When it comes to Scaring, SULLEY's a natural -- his abundant size, fierce roar and family legacy of a long line of high-achieving Scarers make him a shoo-in for the esteemed Scare Program at Monsters University. "We all know who Sulley becomes," says Scanlon. "Sulley was humble, sweet and mature in 'Monsters, Inc.' -- we had fun playing him against character in 'Monsters University.' He's a very talented Scarer -- a big guy, an athlete. He looks the part and he knows it. He shows off a little and he might be a little arrogant."

But from the moment the overly confident monster steps his big furry feet on campus, it's clear he'd rather crack jokes than books -- and he learns the hard way that his unfettered talent and family ties can only get him so far. An ill-timed spar with a little green know-it-all gets him kicked out of the Scare Program. With his ego bruised and future in jeopardy, a stubborn Sulley must put his pride aside, team up with an odd bunch of misfit monsters and actually work if he wants to live up to his true Scaring potential.

According to filmmakers, the character -- who weighs in at 985 pounds -- went through a bevy of changes before they landed on the right mix of confidence and likability. Fortunately, they had the right guy in place to help bring the complex character to life. Says Rae, "John Goodman -- the hardest-working man in show business -- returned to voice Sulley and is absolutely great."

Goodman was excited to revisit the role, but says he had concerns about taking the beloved character back in time. "I worried about finding a higher register for his voice, but it just took care of itself," says the actor. "I'd come in and read a few lines and we'd go on to do the rest of the script. But we'd always come back and get the original lines at the end because by then the character had found itself."

Monsters University freshman RANDY BOGGS has big aspirations for college life. The peculiar lizard-like monster with his host of gangly arms and legs plans to major in Scaring and lead an active social life filled with fun, friends and fraternity parties. "He's not the Randall that we know from 'Monsters, Inc.,'" says Steve Buscemi, who once again provides the voice of the iconic character. "He's a little insecure and he wants to fit in, so he works toward pledging the coolest fraternity."

Story supervisor Kelsey Mann says he thinks audiences will be surprised to see Randall's humble beginnings. "He's super happy and positive. And, just like Mike, he's always dreamed of becoming a Scarer."

He certainly seeks inspiration. One of Randall's most memorable lines from "Monsters, Inc." finds its way into the prequel. Hanging above Randy's bed is an inspirational poster that reads "Winds of Change."

Audiences will get the inside scoop on just what sparks Randy's competitive spirit -- but the future top Scarer at Monsters, Inc. will first need to get his embarrassing disappearing habit under control, because Randy's not sure how he'll ever be a great Scarer if nobody can see him.

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