Cast Interviews: The Voices of Toy Story 4
Just a few more days until Toy Story 4 hits theaters and I can’t wait for all of you to see it! Part of the magic of this movie is the wonderful talent that makes it happen, including the creators who bring it all together and give us the characters and voices of Toy Story 4.
I had the chance to attend an interview panel with the creators and cast of Toy Story 4 and today I’m sharing with you the conversations with Producer Mark Nielsen, Producer Jonas Rivera, Director Josh Cooley, Tim Allen (voice of “Buzz Lightyear”), Keanu Reeves (voice of Duke Caboom), and Christina Hendricks (voice of “Gabby Gabby”).
Make sure to share the Toy Story press junket post that I shared earlier this week which includes interviews with Annie Potts (voice of “Bo Peep”), Tom Hanks (voice of “Woody”), Tony Hale (voice of “Forky”). You can also see a video of my favorite moments from Toy Story 4 interviews to get a peek at those interviews.
Disclosure: I was hosted by Disney for this press event. All opinions and character crushes are 100% my own.
Producer Mark Nielson kicked things off by sharing his thoughts on how (and why) this movie even came to be:
It’s been four or five years. We’ve got a crew back at Pixar that’s been working on this, trying to craft it. It’s a Toy Story movie. We love this. It’s in the DNA of this place. We knew it had to rise to the level of the other ones. So we just put our kind of blood, sweat, and tears into this, as did the crew, about 250 people back at Pixar.
With the edition of Toy Story 4 comes a completely new story line, which of course brings exciting new characters!
Keanu on joining the Toy Story family:
It was a great honor to be invited. For me, I was really excited. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to work with Tim and with Tom. But I knew that working with Pixar and being with these characters and these performers, that I was getting a chance to be a part of something that’s legendary. And so I was really excited. And Pixar gave me a great character with Duke Caboom. And so it was really fun to be a part of this story.
On being Duke Caboom
The addition of Keanu Reeves to this cast is so fantastic and his character Duke Caboom is off the charts cool, and for reasons you might not expect. In fact, his flaws are what make him the coolest and I loved hearing Keanu touch on his role as Duke, and what it was like to get into character:
I think this is what’s really cool about Pixar and Josh and all of the creators of the stories and the characters themselves and the performances is that I think we can identify. There’s so many different kinds of people going through different things. And Duke Caboom just happened to be a crybaby. And super with a big heart and brave who loved life and so I think that there’s a bit of Duke Caboom in all of us.
I really do think Duke Caboom is a character that we can all relate to, don’t you?
Duke is just one of several new characters in the Toy Story family and Director Josh Cooley shared with us the thought process and detail that goes into each new addition. They have to support the story and the direction of the film:
I’ll say with these toys, the new toys in this film, we looked at the toys that we grew up with. The ones that we played with. If you look at the original Toy Story, some of those are kind of the more classic toys. Like Slinky and Potatohead and stuff. So we went more to the 70s and 80s in terms of toys. And then just tried to figure out characters that weren’t just there on the screen just to be characters, but actually helped the story move along and supported Woody as much as possible. But were also entertaining as well. So it’s a great question because it’s really hard to do. People love Toy Story already. And then to try and introduce new characters into this, you go hope you like these characters that as much. And hopefully you do.
I personally think it’s magical what they’ve done. Such perfection with this movie (still 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes,guys!!)
Producer Jonas Rivera added that they go to great lengths to bring truthful characteristics to these characters:
You don’t do it just for the fun of it. Gabby for example. The story would not work without Gabby Gabby. She is an echo of Woody. And we needed her to be this legit and real and truthful human character. The same thing for Duke Caboom and Giggle and everybody new. So they’re not just for fun, although we love them. But this movie wouldn’t work without them. That’s kind of our metric.
And I think that’s what makes these movies so special. We can all see ourselves in each and every one of them.
Christina Hendricks on Gabby Gabby:
She’s so lovely. I like that, I think when children see this movie, she comes across as sort of like the villain at first. And then you realize that she’s coming from a very loving place. And I think that’s important to sort of say maybe you don’t like someone at first. But how did they get there and why are they there and understanding their story. So I think she’s very special in that way. And then she sort of gets embraced by the group. And then it’s about support and I honestly thought it was a joke that they asked me. I kept thinking there were like three other people up for the same thing.
Lessons from Gabby Gabby
One thing that we all love about the Toy Story characters is that they don’t only entertain us, but they bring us so many life lessons. Christina shared with us her thoughts on what Gabby Gabby teaches us:
I think that ultimately, you have to listen to everyone’s full story before you make a judgment about them. And to hopefully not make a judgment about them. I think that’s the lovely thing that she brings to this part of the story is that everyone comes from a place and it’s what made them who they are and you need to listen to that before you can fully understand them.
Another Toy Story? Is that possible? (or smart?) Will there be another Toy Story?
Producer Jonas Rivera shared with us the cautious way that they have approached the additions to Toy Story and hinted at the possible ending of the story while at the same time, leaving it pretty open ended?
Well, we sort of joked that we thought Toy Story 2 was the last one. When we finished that one, we thought that one was the end of the story. And how we approached this was, to echo Josh, the end of Andy’s story and Woody’s story, but Woody is the protagonist. This was the final chapter. And as filmmakers, to be honest, we feel satisfied that this is where you can end it. Now there’s an implied future to all these films and we sort of never say never at Pixar. But as storytellers, we’re satisfied with this as the closing of the chapter.
Who knows what tomorrow is.
I’m still not sure how he left it, but I’m hopeful that this won’t be the end. I just can’t get enough of these characters. If it is the end though, I’m satisfied. This movie was everything and while I hate to think it’s over, it’s perfect. But I’m still trying to read more into what Rivera said because of his very last statement: Who knows what tomorrow is. Did you catch that?
Tim Allen on his 25 years as Buzz Lightyear
It’s similar to when my life began with home improvement. I never thought about the future. I just thought about, can I get through this? Can I finish this? Because I had no idea what the result of that would be. And the same with Toy Story. This is a very difficult process for me to do these movies. Because I don’t get to work with the other actors and it’s just difficult. I have a hard time doing this. It’s not the easiest thing. And to do one, I can’t believe we got through this.
I hope everybody likes it. I hope that you appreciate what these guys have done. I loved it. I like the fact that this is a series of stories. I think Buzz and Woody were on a pencil racer at a McDonalds or something. As weird as that sounds, we’ve hit a high mark when you become an icon. I never thought of that. It never occurred to me and I’ll say it again. There is a theme park out here. A theme park. I love theme parks. There’s a theme park. And a really, really good one and a really spectacular one that’s about this movie we started 25 years ago. I can’t describe except I’m honored and humbled to be part of this thing.
Toy Story 4 honors the late Don Rickles
Sadly, Don Rickles (voice of the popular and very loved Mr. Potato Head) passed away before filming on Toy Story 4 was complete. I was so moved by Producer Mark Nielsen’s words about Mr. Rickles and it is so neat to know that his memory will live on through these movies:
We love Don. He’s been such a huge part of these films all the way back to the very beginning. And we had signed him on to be part of the project before we lost him. And kind of at the request of his family, and it was an idea we had been talking about as well, we wanted to see if we could craft a performance from all the incredible sessions we’ve had with Don through the years. He recorded for theme park rides and toys and commercials, short films, feature films. A lot that we hadn’t used before. So we were honored to really be able to kind of keep his memory in the film and our editorial department did a great job really creating his performance out of his own voice from past projects.
I’ve been a huge fan of Don Rickles for so many years, inspired by my grandmother and her love for him. I love that he’s forever got a place in the Toy Story family. Come to think of it, we all do, don’t we?
Mark Your Calendar!!
Toy Story 4 opens in U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019
Watch the Toy Story 4 Trailer:
See the first Toy Story 4 trailer that I shared last year, and then make sure to watch this next trailer to see how it’s all coming together: