If you caught my Toy Story 4 movie review a few days ago, I may have left one tidbit out….the Toy Story 4 cast was in Orlando last week, and I had the opportunity to interview them! Living in Orlando has its perks with all of the theme parks nearby, but it also offers celebrities of Disney films another option for special appearances and press events. With the recent addition of Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios, it granted the perfect backdrop for the Toy Story 4 cast to hold their latest press conference for the film.
I was invited as media to cover this event. All opinions are my own.
Toy Story 4 Cast – Exclusive Interviews!
Filmmakers Josh Cooley, Mark Nielsen and Jonas Rivera, along with voice cast members Tom Hanks (voice of Woody), Tim Allen (voice of Buzz Lightyear), Annie Potts (voice of Bo Peep), Tony Hale (voice of Forky), Keegan-Michael Key (voice of Ducky) and Keanu Reeves (voice of Duke Caboom) were present for the exclusive interviews.
The New Characters
The Toy Story 4 movie brings in new characters like Gabby Gabby a pull-string doll from the 1950s, and Benson a classic ventriloquist dummy, Duke Caboom a Canadian stuntman toy, as well as Ducky and Bunny, carnival prizes who are eager to be won and find a kid of their own. I really loved the addition of Giggle McDimples the head of Pet Patrol Mini-opolis who is LBP’s sidekick too!
Keanu Reeves shares, “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.”
Christina Hendricks who voices Gabby Gabby mentions, “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.”
Tony Hale who voices the most important addition to the Toy Story crew, Forky, shares it was overwhelming joining the beloved family. Adding, “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 asks a lot of questions. Check. And he’s kind of gullible to a fault now. It’s like bingo. I’m in!”
Tony also shared the importance of Forky’s evolution throughout the film and the impact that will be on audiences everywhere, adding “So 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.”
Why did we need a Toy Story 4?
Josh Cooley explains, “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. 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.”
Jonas Rivera added, “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.”
Josh also adds that every character is going through a transition, mentioning, “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.”
More with the Toy Story 4 Cast
Tim Allen was asked about Buzz Lightyear’s evolution throughout the four films and shares, “It’s funny to watch this whole transition. At one point, Woody is mean and yells you are a toy. And I had to transition because he’s always been wonderfully ignorant about who he was, that he was a toy. And you’ll see in this movie….Woody has this inner voice. I think it’s the sweetest part of this movie.”
When asked about his reaction to Toy Story 4, Tim said, “I love the computer generated part of this. It gets better and better and better. Just the look of it was stunning. And then as I’ve said many times, I read through it. And the end kind of was mercurial. Number four was like a daughter getting married perhaps. There’s great sadness because she’s leaving, but great sadness because she’s also gaining something. And that’s what this is about.”
Jonas adds, “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 like our first. Because we realized we were throwing the ball pretty far with going to that ending. We were kind of going, can we do this? When you read it and we were talking to you and we saw you….We could tell it hit you.”
Tim chimes in with, “It’s good to know my pain is a profit maker. I know that you profit off other people’s misery. That’s a pleasant thought.”
Tim had the whole room cracking up. He is SO funny!
When asked if he can put into words what Woody means to him, Tom Hanks shares, “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…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. 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.”
When Tony was asked on his thoughts about Forky being a favorite character even before the film’s release, he mentions, “I’m still kind of waking up to this. So even you saying that. I’m like sorry. It’s hard to even digest. Because this has been such an iconic franchise that I never thought that I would be a part of something.” Adding, “there was 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.”
When asked about Toy Story Land, Tom said, “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.”
Tony added, “It also makes so much sense to me that Woody is in front at the park. Because your voice is so welcoming. He’s the father that is guiding you through life. There’s such a warmth that Tom has created…”
Look out for an additional interview post with Annie Potts and more on Little Bo Peep and Woody’s evolving relationship in the latest film installment.
Forky gets his own show!
I also have to share this tidbit that we learned during the press conference….Forky is getting his own show! Mark Nielsen mentioned, “I’m producing some short films for Disney Plus which star Forky, our very own Tony Hale. It’s a series called Forky asks a question. There are ten episodes that will be on Disney + when it comes live in November.”
Toy Story 4 hits theaters June 21st! Check out the movie trailer below: