What’s it like in a room with Tom Hanks, Tim Allen & Keanu Reeves? It’s all of the Toy Story 4 Easter Eggs & Fun Facts from the Toy Story 4 Press Conference. This post is sponsored by Disney. All magical opinions are my own.
Toy Story 4 Easter Eggs & Fun Facts from the Toy Story 4 Press Conference
“Come on, guys!”
Walking into a room with Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Keanu Reeves – it feels like a dream, or the start of a really bad joke. Just breathing the same air as Tom Hanks – that alone was a bucket list dream come true. But the truth is, sitting with these legends talking about almost 25 years of the iconic movie series, Toy Story – it was more than I could handle. Tim Allen made me laugh. Tom Hanks made me cry. But more importantly, I left that day completely in awe listening to the story behind Toy Story 4 (see my full movie review HERE).
My hopes for you reading the words from this Toy Story 4 Press Conference is that you feel like you were there with me, holding hands, grabbing tissues, and reminiscing over what this world of Pixar has meant to you and to me over the years. From childhood to adulthood and now to future generations of Toy Story lovers, these few minutes in time were worth a lifetime of memories. From Toy Story 4 Easter Eggs revealed to all of the amazing fun facts we learned, get ready for a roller coaster ride of emotions as we dive into the foundation of the very existence of Pixar – alongside Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks, Tony Hale, Director Josh Cooley and Producers Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen.
Why not stop with Toy Story 3? Do we need a 4?
It’s the question we’re ALL wondering. We already had a trilogy, a trifecta, a perfect trio of movies to complete Toy Story. Why do we need a 4th sequel? In short there is “more Woody story to tell.”
Josh Cooley: We had the same questions everybody else has right now. “I thought you guys were done.” We had those questions five years ago when we started. Tons of responsibility, tons of pressure. A lot of sleepless nights knowing that we were going to attempt this. Because we love the end of Toy Story 3. I 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: Woody is the protagonist. This was the final chapter. 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 never say never at Pixar. But as storytellers, we’re satisfied with this as the closing of the chapter.
Josh Cooley: When we start off in the story room just thinking of ideas, we’re not thinking “oh, Toy Story 3 made all this money. We’ve got to do that same thing.” We’re just trying to tell a good story. That’s all. We love these characters. We love the world. And Pixar has built upon Toy Story. We just wanted to tell a great story.
Toy Story 4 in one word: transition
Going inside the minds of Pixar, it’s always a treat to learn just one little tidbit from these creative geniuses. And Josh Cooley revealing the theme of Toy Story 4 in one word – it was perfection.
Josh Cooley: If I was to just sum it up in one word, it’s 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 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. Gabby Gabby is kind of stuck in time. And even Duke is haunted by his past as well. So that’s how we approached it, just thinking all these characters are having the same theme that way.
Christina Hendricks’ story of being pitched Gabby Gabby is creepy good
Fate? Maybe. Creepy coincidence? Definitely! Pitching Christina Hendricks the role of Gabby Gabby was proof that this match was meant to be, all dummies aside.
Jonas Rivera: Christina, I may remember this not entirely accurately. But when we first sat with you and we were talking, we pitched Gabby a little bit like Norman Desmond or Lost In Time. We were showing you stuff with the dummies. What did you say?
Christina Hendricks: 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.
Jonas Rivera: It was so funny. Because I think we were pitching it saying stuff like these dummies are awful and no one would want them. And you go “No, I have one.”
Duke Caboom – Canadian all the way, eh?
From day 1, the plan was to always have Duke Caboom be Canadian. In fact, he was animated almost 100% by Canadian Pixar animators. But more than just waving the flag, Keanu Reeves brings depth to this character – and maybe a few crybaby tears.
Keanu Reeves: I was really excited. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to work with Tim and 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. And Pixar gave me a great character with Duke Caboom. It was really fun to be a part of this story.
What’s really cool about Pixar, the creators of the stories, the characters themselves and the performances is that 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 and brave, who loved life. I think that there’s a bit of Duke Caboom in all of us.
Tony Hale and Forky are more alike than we know
Is Tony Hale Forky or is Forky Tony Hale? They may be more more alike than we know.
Tony Hale: It’s overwhelming, which helps because Forky is very overwhelmed. 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. I just love that he sees everything as new. And mainly I love that he’s a character that his home place is trash. All he knows is to help people eat soup.
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. 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 then Woody comes along and shares that he has a greater purpose. I think just in life, anybody who might see themselves that way, they have worth. They have purpose. That’s just a beautiful message that Toy Story is giving us.
Annie Potts on returning as Bo Peep, insert expletive
Annie Potts had a few choice words for her return to the big screen as Bo Peep – in pantaloons, no less. (Stay tuned for a private Annie Potts interview soon!)
I’m 66 years old. I’ve said goodbye to a lot of people and hello and held hands and looked out into a new future. And that was sweet to play that out. I never saw the full script. I never knew exactly what I was doing. Over time, I became aware how important the role was going to be. But not until three weeks ago when I saw the thing, I told Josh afterwards. I said thank you so much for putting this crown on my head. I think she’s so lovely. And I hope that, my wish was to bring all the experience of my long colorful life to a “kick-@ss Bo.”
A special tribute to Don Rickles, the Pixar way
Unfortunately, Don Rickles (the voice of Mr. Potatohead) passed away before he could do the voiceover for Toy Story 4. But what could be more fitting than a sweet tribute to his memory, the Pixar way.
Mark Nielsen: We love Don. He’s been such a huge part of these films all the way back to the very beginning. We had signed him on to be part of the project before we lost him. At the request of his family, and it was an idea we had been talking about as well, we wanted to see if we could craft a performance from all the incredible sessions we’ve had with Don through the years. He recorded for theme park rides, toys, commercials, short films, feature films. A lot that we hadn’t used before. So we were honored to really be able to keep his memory in the film. Our editorial department did a great job really creating his performance out of his own voice from past projects.
A Toy Story first: Bo Peep & Woody together, literally
One of the rare firsts for Toy Story was having Tom Hanks and Annie Potts record scenes together for Toy Story 4. And needless to say, it was a whole new experience.
Tom Hanks: What was brand new on this one was that Annie and I got to record together at the same time. And that never happens. You’re always in a sound stage by yourself, not being able to move off mic. And 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.
Even separated by two microphones and two stands, the way Annie Potts will look at you with her eyes is kind of like up like that just a little bit. And when she says the words that you might have said more than any other two. “Oh Woody.” It gets you every time, man. You become a little jar of pudding when that happens. Start quivering a little bit.
Tom Hanks & Tim Allen on 25 years as Woody & Buzz
Almost 25 years and 4 movies later, Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are reflective on their roles as Woody and Buzz Lightyear. The common theme? Neither truly knew how monumental Toy Story would be.
Tom Hanks: Woody has been the great gift that I’ve seen play out again and again in my own family as well as around the world. Woody still is this three-dimensional emotional bag that kids carry around with them.
When it was all done, there was just no doubt that something had been created here that was much bigger or grander than I think anybody sort of anticipated. It was just special. And that doesn’t happen very much. So what started off as “oh yeah, I’m doing a thing. There will be a voice. I guess there will be a doll.” That was one thing. But then when it became what it was, the question was then, what’s the import in this movie? How far is this going to have influence? And it only continued along because the next story was not just a sequel. It was not just cashing in. But it was more investment in what the original asked of us all.
Tim Allen: It’s similar to when my life began with Home Improvement. I never thought about the future. I just thought “can I get through this? Can I finish this?” Because I had no idea what the result of that would be. And the same with Toy Story. And to do one, I can’t believe we got through this. I loved it. I never look forward past that. Number two was an amazing occurrence. But I like the fact that this is a series of stories. And when I saw, I think Buzz and Woody were on a pencil racer at a McDonald’s or something. As weird as that sounds, we’ve hit a high mark when you become an icon. I never thought of that. It never occurred to me. There is a theme park out here, and a really spectacular one that’s about this movie we started 25 years ago. I can’t describe except I’m honored and humbled to be part of this thing.
And then Tom Hanks had to make me cry
Tom Hanks said “Mulan” and I about near lost my cool. But then he went ahead and pulled one of his profound waterworks moments – and I regret not wearing waterproof mascara that day.
There is a profound thing that comes from being Forky or Bo or Woody. That 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 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 just because we were smart enough to say, how do you think we should do this, guys? Come on, guys. How do you think we can do it?
Toy Story 4 Easter Eggs
One antique store. 10,000 items. Endless Toy Story 4 easter eggs. Josh Cooley was all too eager to admit that when Pixar gets “lazy,” the audiences gets all of the fun. Here’s some hints on what Toy Story 4 Easter Eggs you should be looking for, and why the antique store was such a challenge for the animators.
Josh Cooley: The technical challenge in this one was the antique store. Because there’s 10,000 items in the 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.” 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. There is a lot of Easter Eggs in this movie because we just got lazy. If you pause any frame when they’re in the store, you’ll see something in the background.
Mark Nielsen: From every movie Pixar has ever done, there’s something in the antique store.
Jonas Rivera: I just noticed the other day, Carl and Ellie’s house shrunk down on the shelf from Up.
Josh Cooley: Big Bong’s rocket is in the background.
Tim Allen’s reaction to the ending is everything…literally
Tim Allen was one of the few people to actually read the entire ending of Toy Story 4 before it was filmed. Little did he know, his reaction would be the catalyst and approval of the ending moving forward. Jonas Rivera admitted for the first time how much Tim’s reaction meant to Pixar.
Tim Allen: I read through it. And the end, kind of was mercurial. 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. 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 Rivera: 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. Because we realized we were throwing the ball pretty far with going to that ending. We were hesitant even at Pixar. We were going, can we do this? Should we do this? When you read it, 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 sort of sit back and ponder it, maybe we have something here. You didn’t know it. But you gave us our first receipt that might be the right story math.
Ending where it began | Tom Hanks on saying goodbye
After 25 years, I wasn’t expecting Tom Hanks to be so profoundly reflective on recording his last scenes as Woody. But on the edge of my seat, I found myself gripping to every last word. It’s a poignant goodbye from the cowboy we know and love. Chills.
Tom Hanks: When we ended up recording the very last line, I had a realization. It was like “Oh. Is that the last line?” They all said “that’s it.” We were back in the original studio. Stage B. Doc, who was the mixer, was through the glass. And that’s where it all began. And that’s where it was all ending.
There’s so much muscle memory that goes into it. You drive into the lot through the same gate. You park in the same spot . You 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.
Earlier, Tim had texted me. “Hey. Hold on. You’re not going to believe it. Still recovering.” Knowing that we were going to be in this territory, I asked if it was okay. Usually, you have the mic stand and they’re all at a table in front of you. I asked 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.
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.
A cowboy waving goodbye. A space ranger moving from infinity to beyond. And then there’s me, still clinging to every word. Toy Story 4 is in theaters June 21, 2019.