When Toys Talk: The Voices Behind Your Favorite Toy Story 4 Characters
If you read my Toy Story 4 review, then you know that I LOVED this movie and I’m super excited to share with you today the voices behind your favorite Toy Story 4 characters along with a few of the film’s creators.
I’ve been sharing with you my experiences from the Toy Story 4 press event in Orlando and it’s been exciting to see all of the positive reviews coming out since. I’m so thrilled to find that everyone seems to agree, this is a fantastic film! (umm… 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes!) That makes me so happy, especially for the team and cast that put their hearts into these films.
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, Annie Potts (voice of “Bo Peep”), Tom Hanks – (voice of “Woody”), Tony Hale (voice of “Forky”). And ohhhhhh what wonderful conversations they were! (and don’t worry, I’ll be sharing interviews with other cast members soon!)
Disclosure: I was hosted by Disney for this press event. All opinions and character crushes are 100% my own.
It was so fun seeing my three favorite character actors from this movie all interacting together, and I especially loved seeing the humor and laughs between them – and trust me, there were a lot of laughs.
Tom Hanks laughed when he was asked about his original thoughts after first reading the script:
Haha, reading the script. That’s hilarious. The way this has worked, with the first one, now 24 years ago, we actually did read a script. There was a screenplay that looked like every other screenplay. You read that and then you saw every storyboard animatic of the entire film. The second movie, there was a script. But we had made, when we had the understanding of it, we realized there’s no real way you can appreciate the weaving of imagery and character that Pixar did on the paper. So we really did wait to see the sequences put together.
The third one, they didn’t even bother doing anything other than showing us the movie in animatic form before we began recording. And on this one, I never read a complete script. I don’t think anybody did. But we read the sequences that we were in. And it had a continuous running dialogue of what was going. These movies are made with a great flexibility. They work on it. We record it. They start off with the storyboards and words that you say. Then you record them. Then they go away for six months and refine and alter and change and test what we have done up to that point. And so every time we would show up to work, there would be some new iteration of this idea that had been presented to us at the beginning of what everybody is going through.
And then we ALL laughed as he said probably more than he was supposed to say as sweet Annie Potts (Bo Peep) next to him was subtly trying to hint to him to reign in it. And that’s when he pulled out his official Disney Toy Story 4 talking points sheets and started to back track. It was hilarious.
… and then Anne Potts reacted. Priceless:
Tom Hanks and Annie Potts. I love the chemistry between these two characters both on screen and off and it’s very clear that there is SO much admiration between the two of them.
What was brand new on this one was that Annie and I got to record together at the same time. And that never happens. You’re always in a sound stage by yourself, not being able to move off mic. And we got to actually relate with this vast history between the two of us. You leave a recording studio, the session thinking wow, we took it pretty far there. But every time we showed up for the next one, something was revealed to us in the pages that they had for us. So we always knew what territory we were going into, but never the specific route.
Tom Hanks on the gift of being Woody:
Woody has been the great gift that I’ve seen play out again and again in my own family as well as sort of around the world, even in culture that it’s not in my voice. It’s Spanish or Mandarin or what have you. Woody still is this three dimensional emotional bag that kids carry around with them. What I have truly appreciated is that no matter how old you are now, when you see one of the movies, you’re the same age you were when you saw the first one. And there is not a bump, there’s not a jolt. There’s no nostalgia. Nothing ages poorly. It’s exactly as it was and sort of always will be. And I think in some ways, it’s like the definitive Disney enterprise is that there is a cohesiveness and an eternal quality to not just the stories and the characters, but the emotional bonds that we all have with each one of them.
Another Toy Story? Really?
I loved hearing that even Tom Hanks himself was blown away by their ability to revisit this story and add to it, yet again:
I have always been dazzled when they have come back and said we’re going to try another one. The question is always, really? Ain’t you guys bold. You think? You think you can match that last one we did. Good luck. Then they say, as soon as they start talking about Gabby Gabby or Duke Caboom or the true catalyst of Toy Story 4 so much that it’s called Toy Story Forky is Tony Hale is a Forky. Because look at that. Look at what he is. He is a bunch of stuff that has been empowered by the imagination of his creator. And that is the essential. That’s what being a toy is. That’s the great power of what a toy has. So they did it. These crackpot geniuses up there at Pixar. The 900 or so of them that operate in their darkened rooms and eat takeout food for months at a time.
Meet Forky! (and Tony Hale)
Wondering about the new Toy Story 4 characters? There are several, and you are going to love the new additions! Tony Hale voices Forky, a character that truly steals the show.
Hale shared his thoughts about joining the Toy Story cast voicing everyone’s favorite new character Forky:
It’s overwhelming. Which helps because Forky is very overwhelmed. But I remember when they brought me up to Pixar and they kind of described him as he’s kind of nervous. I was like check. He asked a lot of questions. Check. And he’s kind of gullible to a fault now. It’s like bingo! I’m in! I just love that he sees everything as new, and mainly I love that he’s a character that his home place is trash. That’s all he knows is to help people eat soup. And then Woody comes along and shares that he has a greater purpose. I think just in life, anybody who might see themselves that way and they have worth. They have purpose. That’s just a beautiful message that Toy Story is giving us.
“He’s just a spork, who brings so much joy.”, Hale shared with us the honor of voicing Forky, and gave credit to the creative minds behind the scenes that continue to build these Toy Story visual masterpieces:
There is a simplicity to Forky that I just absolutely fell in love with and the fact that he’s made from pipe cleaners and a spork and little popsicle sticks. And he brings Bonnie so much joy. He’s brought into the world. He doesn’t understand the rules of the universe. He’s very confused when people drop to the ground when humans walk in. He’s just kind of always wide eyed. He’s very present. And I just loved the simplicity of it. It’s been a huge honor to voice him. But I will say, we’re so grateful to be here and to be these voices. But we are such a small piece of the pie of what is involved in Toy Story. The amount of artistry and creatives and tremendous labor that has gone into this movie outside of us. The attention needs to be shining on that. Because they really have worked so hard. The movie is eye candy. It’s just such a visual masterpiece. It really is.
I couldn’t agree more! It’s so easy to forget the brilliant writing and artistry that goes into these movies because it all feels to real. It was so neat to see that not only did Pixar pull this off (again) but they did so brilliantly, and everyone seems to agree!
It’s all about transition.
“It’s all about transition.” Hearing Directory Josh Cooley say that was such a light bulb moment for me. It’s so true! The reason that these movies resonate with us in the first place is because they speak to us about life. The seasons. The stages.
The way we were thinking about as we were working on it, if I was to just sum it up in one word is transition. Every character in this movie has gone through a transition or is struggling with going through one or has not gone through one. Bo Peep has gone through a transition we learn about while working on the movie. Woody is struggling with moving from Andy’s room to Bonnie’s room. Forky doesn’t even want to transition at all. And Gabby Gabby is kind of stuck in time. That’s part of the reason we put her in an antique store. Things are not changing around her. There’s dust everywhere. And even Duke is haunted by his past as well. So that’s how we approached it when we were working on it. Just kind of thinking all these characters are kind of having the same theme that way.
And I think that’s why this world of Toy Story has been so wildly popular, don’t you? These story lines, characters and even the merchandise. It resonates with us. It stirs up feelings that really make us think. It’s what makes walking into Toy Story Land at Walt Disney’s Hollywood Studios so absolutely magical. If you’ve watched the movies at all, then you literally feel as if you are walking into Andy’s backyard with none other than Woody to greet you as you enter.
25 years of Toy Story movies
Wow! That’s crazy to think of, right? The reach through different generations that this movie has had, and continues to have! Think of all of the littles just now getting started on the original Toy Story movie. Tom Hanks shared his thoughts on just WHY this has worked through the years, and continues to do so:
It’s not just because we have made these movies for the last 25 years. But I think we all sort of know how commerce works right now. And there is this protocol that says you have a movie coming out. So therefore you build a land or you put a game on it. Whether the movie is decent or not, you have to put up. You can’t escape it no matter how much you want it.
But there has been this interesting thing about Toy Story. It exists sort of by audience demand by way of audience need. If the second movie hadn’t worked out or it had petered out somehow, I think we would have lost the confidence of everybody who has watched it. So all of these movies exist because they were willed into existence by the audience who was willing to invest it and return right where they were and by the people at Pixar who did not take their responsibilities lightly when it comes down to Toy Story. They have to be able to reach a level of gravitas or import or connection. And that land over there is the example of it as well. They could have banged one of those things out pretty quickly. And it would still be up. But this is now a thing because there is not just iconic graphic images. They’re actually emotional things that people carry with them. And it’s only because these movies have been so important.
We’re on our fifth or sixth generation now. How long does a generation last? Three and a half years? I don’t know. But when the next one comes into consciousness, there is now, it’s almost as though they were just now going to build a 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea or something like that. Because you could view it as being late. But because it has garnered this kind of attention and the attention of you all, that it’s kind of like fitting in proper that it exists now.
Woody for the rest of time.
And possibly my favorite moment of the press junket was when Tom Hanks shared with us a story about how his role as Woody has truly become an emotional connection. Not just for him, but for his entire family. For all of us, really.
There is a profound thing that comes from being Forky or Bo or Woody. I’ll share a brief story: In Disneyland, the closing of the show is when the Mark Twain steamboat comes by. And all of the Disney characters are dancing on that steamboat. Belle and Sleeping Beauty and Mickey and everyone. Mulan is there. They’re all there. Captain Hook, Peter Pan. I was there with my family. My daughter who is in her 30s burst into tears. I said what’s wrong? And she said look dad. Look. Look at the end of the boat. And it was Woody and Buzz. She said dad. You’ll always be on that boat dancing for the rest of time as long as Disneyland is here. And that’s more than just a cool thing. It’s actually some sort of talisman I think that we all carry with us now just because we were smart enough to say, how do you think we should do this guys? Come on guys. How do you think we can do it?
Oh I’m so glad that made that decision to do it … and I’m not gonna lie. If they decide to do it again, I’m all in. Because my heart always has room for more Disney love and more favorite Toy Story 4 characters… err, make that Toy Story 5? … we can only hope!!
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:
Toy Story 4 Characters Merchandise