Some of my all time favorite interviews are with the filmmakers – the people behind the movie. Directors, Producers, creators… they always have the best stories, and the best tidbits about the making of a film. While at Walt Disney World for the Toy Story 4 press event, I got to spend an hour with Director Josh Cooley – and he was amazing.
I learned so much from him about Toy Story 4! Easter Eggs, casting decisions and procedures, the message of the film, and more. Read on to discover the 10 things I learned about Toy Story 4 from Josh Cooley!
Toy Story 4 is About Transition
Pixar always comes up with a great theme. Every single movie has something (or somethings) amazing to teach young children. Perhaps to even teach adults. One of the themes in Toy Story 4 was brought up by Gabby Gabby herself, Christina Hendricks, during one of the Toy Story 4 interviews – where she said not to judge someone without knowing where they came from.
That also has a lot to do with what Josh Cooley says Toy Story 4 is all about – transition. The moment he said it I thought to myself – YES!! You are so right! How did I not see that before now?
“If I was to just sum it up in one word – 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. 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. 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.”
— Mama's Geeky – Tessa Smith (@MamasGeeky) June 18, 2019
The Most Easter Egg Filled Pixar Movie EVER!
Disney and Pixar are MASTERS when it comes to Easter Eggs! We all know this is true. The night before our interview with Josh Cooley, we watched Toy Story 4 – and I picked up on a handful of Easter Eggs. Probably about 15 or 20.
My friend Amanda had a leg up on me because she toured Pixar Studios, and learned about this movie a few months beforehand. She even discussed the Toy Story 4 Easter Eggs you can find in the Antique Shop on her site.
Then, during our interview, Josh Cooley let us know this is the MOST EASTER EGG FILLED PIXAR MOVIE EVER. Yes, you read that right. With 10,000 items in the antique store, they had a lot to work with. It was here I noticed the dogs (and house) from Up, and Bing Bong’s Rocket (wahhhh). But there are so many more! I cannot wait to get a closer look when I watch Toy Story 4 again this weekend.
“The technical challenge in this one was the antique store – there’s 10,000 items in the antique store. It all had to built and shaded and set dressed. We didn’t even know if our computers could actually render that. There’s so much stuff. So early on, we did some tests. And it turned out pretty good. We’re like okay. We can do this. Then we needed to make more stuff to go into that antique store. There is a lot of Easter Eggs in this movie because we just got lazy. And so you can find, I swear, if you pause any frame when they’re in the store, you’ll see something in the background.”
Made to Tell a Story – Not Make Money
One of the main questions I have been asked after seeing this movie is did we need a Toy Story 4? Honestly, I was skeptical when I first heard about the movie too. But after seeing it I can confidently answer YES! We needed a Toy Story 4. Josh let us know that Toy Story 4 is most definitely not a money grab, which some people are saying. It was made because there was a story to tell – and what a story it is.
“We had the same questions everybody else has right now. I thought you guys were done. But we had those questions five years ago when we started. Tons of responsibility, tons of pressure. A lot of sleepless nights knowing that we were going to attempt this. Because we love the end of Toy Story 3. And feel like that’s the completion of Woody and Andy’s story. But there was more Woody story to tell. So that’s how we approached it.”
“When we start off in the story room thinking of ideas, we’re not thinking oh, Toy Story 3 made all this money. We’ve got to do that same thing. We’re just trying to tell a good story. That’s all. If we start to think about all the stuff that happens afterwards, I would just collapse on myself. We love these characters. We love the world. And Pixar has built upon Toy Story. We wanted to tell a great story.”
Selecting Voices Blind
By far one of the most interesting tidbits that Josh dumped on us was that they do the voice casting blind. As in, they have no idea whose voice they are listening to when they select voices for the characters. How amazing is that? I love it because it clearly allows them to find a voice, not an actor or actress, that truly fits the character.
“When we cast these roles, we don’t want to see faces. We have a casting department. They bring in a bunch of recordings. We say turn the headshots over – we don’t want to see who this person is. We just want to hear the voice. So we’ll listen to a bunch.”
He then went on to tell us that Keanu Reeves was cast as Duke Caboom almost immediately. As soon as they heard his voice, they all went “Woah! Who is that?” – and I can see why. He was the PERFECT casting!
How Gabby Gabby Came About
Gabby Gabby is totally my favorite new toy from Toy Story 4 – and it was very unexpected. I really thought that would be Forky. Don’t get me wrong, Forky is amazing – all the new toys are – but there is something about Gabby Gabby that spoke to me. And I love her.
When asked how her addition to this film came about, Toy Story 4 Director Josh Cooley mentioned something really interesting. That I had never really thought about before.
“We realized we had never done a doll before. Just a regular doll. And we all have daughters. So we look at our own kids and their toys and our toys for truths. I just loved the idea of Talking Tina/Chatty Cathy-ish. Then also like the Godfather – having the minions. We’ve never done that. That’s one of my favorite scenes.”
Keanu Reeves Actually Did Duke Caboom’s Poses While Recording
I have always wondered what voice actors look like while recording for their characters. Do they make faces? I mean, I imagine they have to do something to get in to the role (Keanu Reeves actually told us he liked to yell “Caboom!” to get in to the mood. That is when Josh Cooley had to point out that not only did yell things like that to get in the mind frame, he actually did the poses.
“Even when you’re doing the poses – you’re really doing poses there on the stage as you’re doing it. It is actually physically taxing.”
I couldn’t help but giggle wondering what that might look like.
Key and Peele Recorded Together, As Did Annie and Tom
Ducky and Bunny are hilarious characters. They will make you laugh harder than you can ever imagine. After a few certain scenes my cheeks hurt and I even had tears from laughing so hard. So I can only imagine what it might be like to watch these guys record for their roles.
As Tom Hanks pointed out in our interview, it is very rare to actually record together when you are voice acting. It is often done alone, without ever interacting with each other. Toy Story 4 Director Josh Cooley let us know that for this film, they broke the norm. Not once, but twice.
“We had Tom and Annie working together for a lot of their scenes where they’re back and forth. And Key and Peele worked together as well. Those sessions were very hard to sit through.”
I probably would have peed my pants watching Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele record together. Like literally. Peed my pants.
Where They Got the Inspiration for the New Toys
There are lots of new toys – but it takes a lot of imagination and thought to keep coming up with new ones. At least I figured it would be. During the interview someone asked where the inspiration comes from, because there seems to be a wide variety of them. Josh answered, letting us know they are inspiration from real life.
“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 more classic toys – like Slinky and Mr. Potatohead. [In Toy Story 4] we went more to the 70s and 80s in terms of toys. Then 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. It’s a great question because it’s really hard to do. People love Toy Story already. Then to try and introduce new characters into this.”
Bo’s New Look – Getting the Porcelain Right
Bo Peep is BACK in Toy Story 4 with a brand new look – and I am HERE for it! I love her so much. She has truly gone through a transition, as Josh said. She is rocking a totally new look. Not only in her clothes, but with the advancement of animation.
I noticed immediately how shiny and pretty she looks. She is made of porcelain after all. Josh told us that they played around a lot with lighting to get her perfect for Toy Story 4.
“We researched a ton of how porcelain reacts to light, how it breaks. We broke a lot of stuff and filmed it.”
Forky’s New Disney+ Show is Hilarious
Like I said earlier, I totally thought Forky was going to be my favorite new toy. But even though he isn’t, he is still at the top of my list of favorite Toy Story characters. So of course I was thrilled to hear that there is a whole Forky series being worked on for Disney Plus!
We don’t know much about it yet, but Josh Cooley did clue us in on something…
“I’m not working on them. But they are hilarious!”
I cannot WAIT for November! This will definitely be one of the first shows I check out.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my chat with Toy Story 4 Director, Josh Cooley! He is truly a very talented man and I loved hearing from him. Like I said, some of my favorite interviews are with the ones who work behind the scenes because I feel like it brings a new light to the movies. After talking with him, I can’t wait to see Toy Story 4 again!
About Toy Story 4
Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) has always been confident about his place in the world, and that his priority is taking care of his kid, whether that’s Andy or Bonnie. So when Bonnie’s beloved new craft-project-turned-toy, Forky (voice of Tony Hale), declares himself as “trash” and not a toy, Woody takes it upon himself to show Forky why he should embrace being a toy.
But when Bonnie takes the whole gang on her family’s road trip excursion, Woody ends up on an unexpected detour that includes a reunion with his long-lost friend Bo Peep (voice of Annie Potts). After years of being on her own, Bo’s adventurous spirit and life on the road belie her delicate porcelain exterior.
As Woody and Bo realize they’re worlds apart when it comes to life as a toy, they soon come to find that’s the least of their worries.
Toy Story 4 is in theaters NOW!
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