“Toy Story 3” is being hailed as another classic from Pixar Animation Studios. The film series is about toys that come to life, and “Toy Story 3” picks up several years after the end of “Toy Story 2.” In “Toy Story 3,” the main toys from the previous film are in danger of being displaced when their human owner Andy (boiced by John Morris) outgrows them and is moving away from home to go to college. Several of the original “Toy Story” characters make their return, including cowboy Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), astronaut Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) and Mr. Potato Head (voiced by Don Rickles).
There are also many new characters that are introduced in “Toy Story 3,” including a teddy bear named Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear (voiced by Ned Beatty), as well as dolls named Dolly (voiced by Bonnie Hunt) and Mr. Pricklepants (voiced by Timothy Dalton). Hanks, Allen, Rickles, Beatty, Hunt and Dalton shared their thoughts on their “Toy Story 3” experience.
What do you think about Pixar and what the studio has done for the entertainment industry?
Hanks: The Pixar people continuously amaze me, because they come up with something that actually looks like it takes place in this happy, real-world place. Every plot line is very, very plausible. It’s written with characters with great human dimension that are cracked with adventure and jeopardy and humor and love.
A movie still from “Toy Story 3”
Can you comment on how movie technology has progressed since “Toy Story 2” was released in 1999?
Hanks: Motion pictures now are just beginning to live up to their true potential of being this immersive experience, going from black-and-white flickering images to fully immersive to fully color, 3-D, high-definition. You don’t even know where the real world starts and the fake world begins. And it’s just going to be come even more so. And yet, none of that is going to matter unless the story and the emotions that they allow us to be invested in are going to something that we can recognize.
And again, Pixar and “Toy Story” are able to do this in ways that almost defy speculation. We care so deeply about this, that the connection you have directly back to the original generation of ‘Toy Story” is still right there. It will always be the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen.
How has Buzz and Woody’s relationship evolved?
Hanks: They started off as pure adversaries and learned to accept each other’s strengths, forgive each other’s failures, and accept each other as individuals. They’re “opposites attract,” in this case, and you need somebody who can complement [you]. You don’t always know everything. Sometimes you’ve got to turn to somebody like Buzz and say, “What do you think?” And you’ve got to respect Buzz’s answer.
Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) and Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) in “Toy Story 3”
What can you say about your “Toy Story 3” characters?
Hank: Woody is a passionate guy who throws himself into every action. You notice how Woody just runs across a lawn? He does it full-boar. He doesn’t hesitate for a moment. As soon as he as an instinctive thought: “I have to help them” or “I have to run away,” he does it with 100 percent commitment. You’ve got to love that with anybody.
Allen: Buzz is who I’d really like to be. I really like being Buzz. It’s a character I developed with [filmmaker] John Lasseter. I like that character, but Ken is really, really interesting to me, because if Buzz is deluded, Ken is super-deluded.
Beatty: I think he’s all warm and all lovey because he likes to hug. His name is Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear. He announces right away that he’s a hugger. He likes to hug people. And I think it’s very warm and very inviting because these toys don’t really know what their future is going to be. And it looks like they’ve landed in paradise, and he’s part of that message.
Hunt: My character Dolly? I love Dolly. I felt a strong connection with her immediately, because a doll named Dolly might seem generic, but she has a good heart and a depth of character. When I was I kid with a simple doll, my imagination would bring it to life. And that’s how Dolly is. Her buttons don’t match and her hair is purple. She’s a real character and loving.
Dalton: Well, first of all, the movie is full of heart. He’s [Mr. Pricklepants] is full of heart. Everything’s got a strong emotional base. He’s a marvelous image. It’s fantastic. It’s strange, that little cuddly bear in lederhosen … leather shorts and stuff. He’s marvelous!
Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear (voiced by Ned Beatty) and Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen)
What do you think about some of the new characters in “Toy Story 3”?
Allen: I was laughing so hard at Ken. I saw the first drawings of Ken. [Michael] Keaton [as the voice of Ken] brought that alive. He does a fashion show for Barbie. It’s real funny. It’s paced real funny … I like the new toys. Jeff Garlin does a great job with the unicorn. Mr. Pricklepants is another character that’s out of nowhere. I sat with my wife, who has a love of the theater, and he [Timothy Dalton as the voice of Mr. Pricklepants] plays a theater guy. The subtle little jokes are just wonderful.
Hunt: We see the characters we’re familiar with, and we get to meet all these new characters that come to life for us and now will be classics in our hearts. That’s what’s really fun about this film. None of the characters let you down. The next one you meet is funnier or cuter or heart-rending. It’s just amazing— and on top of all of that, the artistry is breath-taking.
Viewers will get to see another side of Buzz in “Toy Story 3.” Can you elaborate?
Allen: For anyone like me who’s a computer geek, he has a reset button and an on/off switch and an auto run. There’s a demo switch-off stage, and any kid who knows about computers, if you switch it back and forth, like an iPhone, it resets. Well, Buzz resets, and they couldn’t get the right language. So for a while, he speaks perfect Spanish.
Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear (voiced by Ned Beatty), Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) and Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) in “Toy Story 3”
What else can you say about the “Toy Story 3” plot?
Allen: The toys are quickly thrown away by mistake. They get to Sunnyside, a day-care center. It looks like a great thing. It looks like heaven for these guys, but they’re not age-appropriate toys for the kids they’re with, which is a great lesson for … if you’ve got kids, there are certain toys they shouldn’t play with. They’re with a group of kids that don’t know how to respect toys, and they break them, and it absolutely becomes purgatory for these toys. They get in the wrong age group.
Beatty: What happens to the toys when they get to the day-care center is that they start at the bottom of the heap. The bottom of the heap is the 2- and 3-year-olds. There’s no telling what they’re going to do with the toy. Sometimes they lay with the toys very nicely. I must say, I’ve watched kids in day care. They can play very nicely, and sometimes they just wreck the toys.
Hunt: Well, I think in this movie, we get to see the characters that were established that we love that have found a great part of our lives. A big part of our hearts are with the characters from the original “Toy Story,” and now on “Toy Story 3,” they are on an adventure that they never could’ve expected, much like our own lives. Sometimes we’re thrown into turmoil, and we wonder if we’ll get through it. This is where this story begins.
Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) in “Toy Story 3”
What are thoughts on working on an animated film compared to a live-action film?
Dalton: In animation, you can throw away people’s defense. You can go right to the center of things, right through inside someone’s heart. The characters anyway, they do represent different aspects of all of us— and put them all together, you get a human being. And so it’s got a wonderful purity, a real purity that’s so moving, exiting, everything. It’s great!
Rickles: I was very happy. You do these things in little segments, and you don’t know how it’s going to turn out. And animation is all becoming a new thing, and it was great the way they handled it. They did a wonderful job.
Now that you’ve seen “Toy Story 3,” what do you think?
Rickles: [He says jokingly] Well, I’m a riot. The rest of the show is weak. I’ve got to be honest. The things I say are brilliant. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen: time killers!
Beatty: I am highly happy that I’m in film. I don’t know how else to put it. I was really entertained by it. It’s really wonderful to be part of something that you think is going to give people a lot of pleasure [and] as a lot of worth.
Rickles: This is the most adventurous, exciting story I’ve been in. I’ve been in movies, a picture called “Casino” with Robert De Niro. It’s nothing next to this. I did a movie years ago that kids won’t remember, with Clark Cable and Burt Lancaster, called “Run Silent Run Deep.” Nothing! They can’t touch it!
For more info: “Toy Story 3” website
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Photo credits: Photo #1: Reuters. All other photos: Pixar Animation Studios/Disney Enterprises, Inc.