Toy Story 4 is a movie that I was (literally) counting down to see from the second I first heard about it. When I was invited to head to Disney World for the Toy Story 4 press trip (with my family!), it was extra extra exciting for me (and us). Then something even cooler happened – I found out that I would get to attend (2) press conferences, one of which with Tom Hanks, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, (Director) Josh Cooley, (Producer) Jonas Rivera and (Producer) Mark Nielsen. Talk about a dream team!
Josh Cooley, Tom Hanks, Tony Hale (and more!)
I’m going to be honest with you here – the second I first heard about Toy Story 4 coming out, I thought to myself – What will this one be about? How will they make it as magical? As many of us know, we’ve grown up with the story. We are committed to the characters. We love the characters. We feel like they’re part of our lives in many ways. I can’t tell you how many times my sons have been Woody and Buzz for Halloween!
It wasn’t surprising to right out of the gate at the press conference to hear someone ask the filmmakers what kind of pressure it was like to make the 4th Toy Story movie. They all looked at each other and smiled. It was the kind of smile that they only shared. Josh Cooley (the Director) jumped right in, “We love these characters. We love the world. Pixar has built upon Toy Story. We just wanted to tell a great story.” What I loved about Josh Cooley was that you could tell he just really did want to make the best movie possible.
I feel like this was the best way to kick off the press conference with this dream team because for them it all just came down to wanting to tell a really great story. You could see it in the movie, which they accomplished. You could also tell that they all were passionate and committed to making sure the perfect and right story was told to the audience.
I know that I’ve been asked by quite a lot of people about the theme of the movie. This is such a great question because I think lots of people are wondering where this movie will go and how this movie will end (which was my first thought). Josh Cooley answered a question early on about the theme of the movie.
The short answer? Transition, but Josh puts it great here. “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 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.”
The press conference was filled was so much awesomeness. I actually sat there just kind of in awe. These people in front of me – Tom Hanks, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, (Director) Josh Cooley, (Producer) Jonas Rivera and (Producer) Mark Nielsen – were integral parts in making Toy Story 4 so magical and so beautiful. Each of them held a piece to making this puzzle a perfect fit and it was just amazing to be there in their orbit, listening and taking it all in.
I’ve got a kick this blog post off with some Tony Hale. Let me start with this little tidbit. I watched Tony Hale on Arrested Development YEARS ago as Buster. I honestly fell in love with his character and the show. It was one of those shows that you just didn’t miss. It was funny and smart and witty and just incredible. The second I heard that Tony Hale was voicing Forky, I knew this “new” character would be off the charts good.
I loved hearing Tony talk about going after the “role” as Forky. “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 asked a lot of questions. Check. And he’s kind of gullible to a fault now. It’s like bingo. I’m in! 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 to know they have worth. They have purpose. That’s just a beautiful message that Toy Story is giving us.”
Since this was Tony’s first time in one of the Toy Story movies, it was interesting to hear his take on being part of this iconic franchise. Not to mention how humble Tony was saying this, too. “I mean it when I say that I’m still kind of waking up to this. 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. But to what Tom was saying, there is 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 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. But I will say, we’re so grateful to be here and to be these voices. But we are such a small piece of the pie of what is involved in Toy Story. The amount of artistry and creatives and tremendous labor that has gone into this movie outside of us. The attention needs to be shining on that. Because they really have worked so hard. The movie is eye candy. It’s just such a visual masterpiece. It really is.”
I’m telling you – Tony was so down to earth and just so happy to be part of this amazing film. I loved listening to him share his thoughts and see how much he loved being with this team on stage!
Seeing Tom Hanks on the stage at the press conference was pretty cool for me, too! I’ve loved Tom Hanks since the movie SPLASH and BIG! I’ve been showing my kids old movies and Tom Hanks was just such a standout in these movies. It’s funny when I first showed my sons BIG a couple of years ago, my son Ben immediately identified his voice as that of Woody. It’s pretty neat to think about how my son made that comparison.
Tom Hanks was just as charming on stage as you’d hoped he would be. I got a taste of Tom Hanks before the press conference started when he video photo bombed a young girl shooting a piece for her video. She was about 12 years and he stopped and talked with her and literally MADE HER VIDEO! I thought to myself, “How sweet is this guy?”
Someone asked Tom a question about the role of Woody and what it’s meant to him throughout the years. Honestly, his answer made me tear up!
“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 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. And I think in some ways, it’s like the definitive Disney enterprise is that 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. And I have always been dazzled when they have come back and said we’re going to try another one.”
Pretty amazing, right?
Even Annie Potts added in that Woody really is this iconic character. “Summer before last. I just wanted to say this. It struck me. So I was in a boat going down a remote area of the Amazon. There was a little boy, a local boy playing on the banks of the river. And he had on a t-shirt that said Toy Story with Woody on the front. This is on the Amazon. And I thought man. This thing is so much bigger than any of us could ever have imagined and has gone so far. That’s all.”
It was a true treat listening to this dream team talk about Toy Story 4. The amount of work and love that went into this film is mind blogging extraordinary! Josh Cooley even shared that to get Bo Peep just right they “researched a ton of how porcelain reacts to light, how it breaks. We broke a lot of stuff and filmed it. The technical challenge in this one was the antique store. Because there’s 10,000 items in an antique store. It all had to built and shaded and set dressed and everything. And 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. So that was. And then we needed to just make more stuff to go into that antique store. So a lot of it was made for this film.”
As we were ending the press conference, there was one thing that Tom Hanks said that gave me goosebumps. You could see Josh Cooley smile big at this story, too. Tom shared a story about a trip he took to Disneyland with his family while they were watching the steamboat go by with all the Disney characters.
“And all of the Disney characters are dancing on that steamboat. Belle and Sleeping Beauty and Mickey and everyone. Mulan is there. They’re all there. Captain Hook, Peter Pan. I was there with my family. My daughter who is in her 30s burst into tears. I said what’s wrong? And she said look dad. Look. 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.”
What an amazing press conference! So blessed to have been in the audience listening to this incredible dream team!
You must see this movie with your family!
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TOY STORY 4 opens in theatres everywhere on June 21st!
See all about Toy Story Land while at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, too!
Disclosure: Press Trip