While at Walt Disney World for the Toy Story 4 press event, I sat down with Director Josh Cooley, Producers Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen – plus Tom Hanks (voice of Woody), Tony Hale (voice of Forky), and Annie Potts (voice of Bo Peep)! This was like a dream come true, and something I will never forget. We learned so much about the movie, and these characters, in this interview – and I cannot wait to tell you all about it!
Toy Story 4 Was Not Made to Make Money
I have heard people saying that Toy Story 4 was made as a cash grab, and that is not the case, as Josh Cooley pointed out in our interview. He said that they had a good story to tell – and wanted to tell it. I am so thankful that they did because we needed Toy Story 4, as I have said before.
Jonas Rivera added “We wouldn’t do it. Just thinking about the box office.“, which I loved hearing. That means it was done purely to tell the story, and for the love of the characters. That truly helped make this a must see movie – it has heart and tells a story we NEEDED to hear.
Tony Hale on Joining the Cast as Forky
One thing that I really loved about this movie was the innocence of Forky. He is very much like a child, you are trying to show the world to. He has many questions, and looks up to Woody for the answers. When Tony Hale, who voices this fun new toy, was asked what it was like to join the cast, he had a great response.
“It’s overwhelming – which helps because Forky is very overwhelmed. I remember when they brought me up to Pixar and they 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. It’s like bingo. I’m in.”
“I love that he sees everything as new. 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. Then Woody comes along and shares that he has a greater purpose. 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.”
Recording Together – For the First Time Ever!
It has been said before that this is more of Woody’s story that needed to be told – as his story with Andy was completed in Toy Story 3. Tom Hanks was asked how he felt after reading the script for Toy Story 4 and he chuckled – joking with us that he is never given a full script, only the lines that he needs to read, and only when they need him to read them.
“What was brand new on this one was that Annie [Potts] and I got to record together at the same time. That never happens. You’re always in a sound stage by yourself, not being able to move off mic. 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 let us know that he loved recording with her in studio. He even added that when she looked up at him with her eyes and said “Oh, Woody“, he would become a little jar of pudding. I love Bo Peep and Woody and so I was thrilled to see them reunited in Toy Story 4. Just you wait!
What Woody Means to Tom Hanks
Woody means a lot to many people – I know I grew up with him and Buzz Lightyear – so he is near and dear to my heart. But for Tom Hanks, he must mean so much more to him. He IS Woody after all.
“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, 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.
Toy Story 4 – Was It Needed?
Tom Hanks went on to discuss how he is surprised every time Pixar has pitched a new Toy Story to him. Basically thinking how can they top the last one? They just keep getting better and better – and are all on par with each other. There is no bad Toy Story, and there is no unnecessary Toy Story. That is still the case with the fourth one.
“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. I have always been dazzled when they come back and say 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 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. Look at that. Look at what he is. He is a bunch of stuff that has been empowered by the imagination of his creator. 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.”
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That time @mrtonyhale called @tomhanks "Woody" and my heart melted…. such a great moment during the #ToyStory4 press event yesterday! (Great question @asthebunnyhops!) . . . . #TonyHale #Forky #TomHanks #Woody #ToyStory #ToyStoryLand #Pixar #pixarfan #pixarlife #PixarIG #DisneyIG #Disney #DisneyWorld #MamasGeeky
Forky Being a Favorite Before the Movie is Even Out
To feed off of what Tom was saying about Forky – Tony Hale was asked about how it feels to have a character in a movie that isn’t released yet, be so iconic already. My friend Amy at As The Bunny Hops asked, and I was so glad she did, because it lead to one of the most heartwarming moments of the whole interview.
“That’s really nice to hear. I mean it when I say that I’m still kind of waking up to this. It’s hard to even digest. This has been such an iconic franchise that I never thought that I would be a part of something. But to what Woody was saying – I just called you Woody – Tom was saying, there was a simplicity to Forky that I just absolutely fell in love with. 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 – very present. And I just loved the simplicity of it. It’s been a huge honor to voice him.”
Transition is a Key Part of Toy Story 4
If you have already seen Toy Story 4 then you know transition is a major part of this film. When asked the main message of the story, Josh Cooley pointed this out.
“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. Even Duke is haunted by his past as well.”
Jonas added in that Annie Potts even noticed a change in Bo Peep when she came in to voice her again. If you recall, she was not in Toy Story 3. Annie said, wow, she speaks a little differently now. Which shows that Annie realized that, and they were showing Bo’s transition in the right way – it was coming across right in the film.
Tom’s First Time At Toy Story Land
If you have not yet been to Toy Story Land at Walt Disney World, you are truly missing out. It is a place that all Pixar and Toy Story fans will truly appreciate. The details that all go in to making it what it is – there really is no way to accurately describe it. Tom Hanks was asked what it was like for him the first time he experienced it. A giant statue of Woody is, after all, at the entrance welcoming guests.
“There has been this interesting thing about Toy Story. It exists 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. 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. It’s almost as though they were just now going to build a 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. 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 fitting in proper that it exists now.”
— Mama's Geeky – Tessa Smith (@MamasGeeky) June 12, 2019
Tom Hanks & Tim Allen are as Close as Woody and Buzz
I love, love, loved hearing Tom talk about his friendship with Tim Allen, who voices Buzz Lightyear. I guess the child in me had always hoped that they were close friends, and to hear that they are – BECAUSE of Toy Story, warmed my heart.
“We actually have become very close simply because of the union of Woody and Buzz. After we made the second one, we began to have regular lunches about every three months or so in which he and I sit down. And alcohol is not involved. It’s just we sit down and we talk for about three and a half hours straight every time we get together. We do seek each other out in order to touch on all the aspects of our lives. But it would not have come out were it not for him being Buzz and me being Woody.”
Then Tom went in to one of my favorite stories. Yes, I teared up. Would you really expect me not to? It just made me think of how special it must be to him to voice Woody.
“Brief story. In Disneyland, the closing of the show is the Mark Twain steamboat comes by. And all of the Disney characters are dancing on that steamboat – Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Mickey, and everyone. They’re all there. I was there with my family. My daughter who is in her 30’s burst into tears. I said what’s wrong? And she said look dad. 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?”
Recording the Last Lines of Toy Story 4
The end of Toy Story 4 is VERY emotional. I read this in interviews with the cast before seeing the film, but I still was not ready for it. Tom was asked about his emotional performance at the end of the film, and what he said really touched me.
“When we ended up recording the very last line, it was a realization. It was like oh. Is that the last line? They all said that’s it. And we were back in the original studio – Stage B. That’s where it all began. And that’s where it was all ending. Earlier, the session before that, Tim [Allen] had texted me: ‘Hold on yourself. You’re not going to believe it. Still recovering.‘ Usually, you have the stand and the mic and they’re all at a table in front of you. So knowing that we were going to be in this territory, I asked if it was okay if we could turn it around so my back was to them. Because I didn’t want to have any self consciousness for what I knew was going to be the last time… certainly the last few hours I’m going to be spending on the movie, but also recording the last scenes.”
“And when it came to pass, I felt as though I was on the other side of a river waving to everybody that I had left back in the old country. It was pretty profound. There’s so much muscle memory that goes into it. You drive into the lot through the same gate, park in the same spot, go through the same doors. You get in your car and you get back through and you think I have recorded the last moment of the current Toy Story.”
Trust me, once you watch that final scene of Toy Story 4, you will know exactly what Tom is talking about. What a great moment, but also, very emotional – and needed.
Forky Coming to Disney+
I was thrilled to learn that Forky will be coming to Disney+ in November! Josh Cooley dropped the news that we will get a 10 part series called Forky Asks A Question. I am sure this is going to be hilarious, and I am HYPED for it! Trust me, Forky is AMAZING and you will all love him (even more than you already do). Josh isn’t working on them, but he did tell us they are hilarious – which I whole heatedly believe.
Mark Nielsen is producing them, and of course, Tony Hale will return as Forky – which he was excited about.
“I love it. These are questions that maybe people are too embarrassed to ask. But they really don’t know. I learn so much just from all these simple questions that I probably should know and I didn’t.”
Watch the Whole Interview!
I didn’t cover everything that was said in this interview, but if you want to watch the whole thing, I did post a video on my YouTube Channel. Enjoy!
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 comes to theaters June 21st!
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