Earlier this month I was down at Walt Disney World to check out Toy Story 4 and interview some of the cast (thanks Disney!). What I had never dreamed of was being in the same room as Christina Hendricks (voice of Gabby Gabby), Tim Allen (voice of Buzz Lightyear), and Keanu Reeves (voice of Duke Caboom – who I had just watched in Always Be My Maybe)!
I also got to chat with Director Josh Cooley, Producers Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen again – they were in my interview with Annie Potts, Tom Hanks, and Tony Hale as well. It is always an honor to get to chat with the people that work on the film – the creators – because they are BRILLIANT! I love getting to pick their brains and hear what they have to say about the whole process.
Mark Nielsen mentioned how much work has gone in to Toy Story 4 to start off the interview, which gave me even more appreciation for the film when I heard how long it took.
“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. 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 blood, sweat, and tears into this, as did the crew, about 250 people back at Pixar.”
Keanu Says It Was An Honor To Join The Cast
Trust me when I say that you will love Duke Caboom even more than you thought you could once you see Toy Story 4. He is one of the new toys – all of which I love (except maybe Benson – the ventriloquist dummy) – and Keanu Reeves voices him. When asked what it felt like to join Toy Story, Keanu said it was an honor.
“I was really excited. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to work with Tim and with Tom. But I knew that in 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. Pixar gave me a great character with Duke Caboom. It was really fun to be a part of this story.”
Tim Allen Talks About the Evolution of Toy Story
Tim Allen has been a part of Toy Story from the beginning, but he is just as excited about these new toys as many fans are! There have been a lot of changes since the first Toy Story came out 24 years ago (so crazy, right) – and just seeing how the toys look now is incredible. It is also pretty amazing to think that Toy Story Land exists because of these movies.
“The best part of this whole thing is the new guys – the new women, the new stories, the new characters. It really is the coolest part of this to see this whole family rise up. I said this over and over again. It’s a theme park at Disney World based on this movie that we started 25 years ago. I saw the original tensor lamp film school done by John Lasseter – and I loved that computer animation. I saw this done to a terrific story that Pixar came up with. Back then, I wanted these guys, I loved that story. I loved the story so much about how they get family, not family values. [Toy Story 4]’s such a warmth – it’s rich and thick and great. And Buzz is so good in this.”
Christina Hendricks on Voicing Gabby Gabby
Before seeing Toy Story 4, I was sure that my favorite new toy would be Forky. But after seeing it? I kind of think Gabby Gabby has taken on that role for me. I adored her. So I was really excited to hear what Christina Hendricks had to say about voicing her.
“She’s so lovely. I think when children see this movie, she comes across as the villain at first. And then you realize that she’s coming from a very loving place. And I think that’s important to say – maybe you don’t like someone at first. But how did they get there? Why are they there? And understanding their story… She’s very special in that way. She gets embraced by the group. And then it’s about support.”
Christina is so right in what she said here. Gabby Gabby is also my 6 year old daughter’s favorite now because of her story arc. And one of the main reasons she started sobbing during the movie (which yes, made me cry even harder). She went on to talk about what she hopes everyone takes away from her character.
“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 – 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.”
Buzz Lightyear Has Changed
One of my favorite characters has always been Buzz Lightyear. From the moment he was first introduced – and had no clue that he was a toy – he stole my heart. Tim Allen talked about his transition (which Josh Cooley has said Toy Story 4 is about in our other interview) beautifully. I would be lying if I said it did not make me tear up.
“It’s funny to watch this whole transition. At one point, Woody is mean, and yells ‘YOU ARE A TOY’. [Buzz has] always been wonderfully ignorant about who he was – that he was a toy. But his transition has always been – okay, that was a terrible moment for me. Let’s regroup. His core has always been authentic, soft hearted – but no heart at all. And you’ll see in this movie. Woody has this inner voice. I think it’s the sweetest part of this movie. But [Buzz doesn’t] understand that whole thing. He’s innocent. And he’s just one of his best friends. That’s the journey through [Toy Story 4] is how cool of friends these guys are.”
Toy Story 4 is About Woody’s Story
Many people have asked – why are we getting a Toy Story 4? The third movie seemed to close the chapter perfectly. I know I thought the same thing when this film was announced. But Director Josh Cooley summed it up perfectly when he said the following.
“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.”
Trust me when I say we NEEDED this story. It was then asked if Toy Story 4 would be the last one, or if we would see a Toy Story 5. There are lots of ways to go, and honestly, I could totally get behind another film (or five) in the franchise. Jonas Rivera decided to answer that question – pretty vaguely if you ask me.
“We 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.”
Never say never is what I take from that. So, fingers crossed!
Duke Caboom is a Crybaby
Yes, you read that right. The brand new toy, voiced by Keanu Reeves, is a crybaby. Keanu even admitted it himself when asked about it in our Toy Story 4 interview. Don’t get me wrong, it was totally endearing in the movie and I fell in love with his character because of it.
“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. Brave, and who loves life. I think that there’s a bit of Duke Caboom in all of us.”
Speaking of Keanu, we were all a witness to Keanussance, but I will let my friend Tania from Lola Lambchops tell you about that.
Duke Caboom Was Created (Almost) Solely By Canadians
This is probably one of my most favorite tidbits I learned during the Toy Story 4 interview – Duke Caboom was created (almost) solely by Canadians! It was asked (by a Canadian) is the plan was always for Duke to be Canadian and wear the Canadian flag. The answer? From day one said Josh Cooley. Mark Nielsen then added in a REALLY fun fact.
“There’s a lot of great Canadians that work at Pixar, too. And they all volunteered to animate all of the Duke Caboom shots. So he’s mostly animated by Canadian animators. Almost 100%”
Christina Hendricks Owns a Ventriloquist Dummy
Easily the creepiest part about Toy Story 4 is Benson – the ventriloquist dummies. They are Gabby Gabby’s henchmen and I hate them. I mean HATE them. There are LITERAL JUMP SCARES in Toy Story 4 because of them. And they are awful.
Also, they are hilarious. And I kind of love them. Kind of. Anyways, Jonas Rivera brought up the moment they realized Christina Hendricks was perfect for the part of Gabby Gabby, and asked her to tell the story.
“I thought you guys had done weird background research on me. Because I actually have a ventriloquist doll in my house that I wanted my entire life. Every year I would ask my parents for this Charlie McCarthy ventriloquist doll and they’re like you’re weird. We’re giving you a baby doll. You’re never going to get it. And then as an adult, I finally got one. But I was like, how did you guys get in my mind?”
I adore Christina, she was so poised with perfection. My friend Amiyrah, over at 4 Hats and Frugal, wrote all about our Christina Hendricks Toy Story 4 interview – be sure to check that out!
Tim Allen’s Brilliant Idea
If you know anything about Tim Allen’s career, you can easily say that he is a brilliant man. But hands down, one of the most brilliant ideas he has had, was this one for charity.
“I pitched this and I still say it – I would love for a benefit for one of the children’s hospitals to have all of us do the movie, read it, even just all of us just to sit in the room together, all of this read this thing. I think it would be fabulous to do a cold read on that. You know.”
I would pay so much money to be in that room. You have no idea. SO MUCH MONEY.
Tim Says The Script Touched Him
Listen to me when I say that Toy Story 4 is amazing. It has so much heart and emotion – and Tim Allen agrees. He had a hard time getting through the script, and honestly, I don’t blame him one bit.
“It was so bold. I wrestle with loss in my family and loss in my life. I’m an old philosophy major in college. Losing and gaining…. [Toy Story 4] was like a daughter getting married perhaps. There’s great sadness because she’s leaving, but great happiness because she’s also gaining something. And that’s what this is about. I told Tom the same thing. He hadn’t read it and I had finished it. I had a real tough time. But I have a lot of other baggage about losing things and how this world is. And I just loved how they filmed. They trick you with this little emotion thing at the beginning. So you get sucked into it.”
Then Jonas Rivera added something that I really loved. And yea yea, cue the water works again.
“Tim, I haven’t told you this, but we actually used your reaction a little bit as inspiration. When we met and recorded and walked you through that ending, your reaction was our first. And we realized we were throwing the ball pretty far with going to that ending. We were hesitant even at Pixar. We were kind of going, can we do this? Should we do this? Should we do it? When you read it and we were talking to you and we saw you – we saw him kind of recoil back. Like oh man. Okay. We could tell it hit you. We thought if we can get Tim Allen, Buzz Lightyear himself, to sit back and ponder it. Maybe we have something here. You didn’t know it. But you gave us our first receipt that that might be the right story math.”
"When @ofctimallen read [the #ToyStory4 script]& we saw him kind of, recoil back. Like oh man. Okay. We could tell it hit you. We thought if we can get Tim Allen, #BuzzLightyear himself, to sit back and ponder it. Maybe we have something here." – Producer Jonas Rivera #ToyStory pic.twitter.com/TuzQIHOIM2
— Mama's Geeky – Tessa Smith (@MamasGeeky) June 19, 2019
Bloopers are always some of my favorite moments – and Tim Allen was asked if there were any that stuck with him. He admitted that some of the improvisations he goes with, might not be family friendly. Toy Story is after all, a rated G franchise. But he did toot his own horn too, letting us know that a lot of the thing he ad libbed were used, which meant the animators had to go back and reanimate the scene.
“My comedy for 20 or 30 years is not for children. So my memorable things is saying stuff that Buzz would generally not say, after a long day of doing the same thing over and over again. But the classic to me is when I would ad lib. It’s not like Robin when he did Aladdin. When I ad libbed, it’s not a happy moment for the animators. Because they’ll go oh God. That was funny. God darnit that was funny. Which means they’ve got to go back and reanimate.
When I got drunk on darjeeling tea, and I’m holding my own arm in my hand because I think somebody, I can’t remember why I lost my arm. And I said is the hat too much? Is the hat too much? It’s under my breath as I walk out of that scene. It was hysterical. They left that in. Woody goes you are a toy – and I said you are a sad, strange little man. And you have my pity. And that was again, animators going oh damn. That’s funnier than what we wrote. And those moments are great to me.”
Watch the Whole Toy Story 4 Interview!
Well this went on for a lot longer than expected, because there was just so much awesome in this interview that I wanted to cover. But I didn’t cover everything that was said in this Toy Story 4 interview! So if you want to watch the whole thing, I did post a video on my YouTube Channel. Enjoy it!
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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