‘This friendship is great’: Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear look beyond infinity with Toy Story 4
Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear’s partnership is going to infinity and beyond with Toy Story 4!
It’s tough to get two big names like Tim Allen and Tom Hanks in one place to speak about their friendship. But when Allen and Hanks completely opened up about their nearly 25-year long emotional journey, we couldn’t help but feel a little tearful ourselves.
That’s also the magic of Toy Story and the overwhelming influence of lifelong friendships. Here, the two veteran actors speak about Toy Story 4, which directly follows part 3’s events, as Woody and Lightyear embark on a new road trip adventure. The real story, however, is all about being best buddies. Excerpts from the interaction:
What is so special about the bond between both of your characters?
Tim Allen: I am going to give it first to Pixar in writing and developing the characters. I will say secondly, there actually is a connection between us two individuals, at least. I have really admired Tom Hanks and wanted to be his friend, and we became friends and it translates into Buzz and Woody. He really does like Sheriff Woody. He likes him from the ‘No intelligent life anywhere’ moment. From that moment he goes, ‘Woah! look at that little cowboy’.
He is full of bravado but he kind of likes this cowboy because he is the new sheriff and I am just a soldier. So he is my commanding officer and so there is this connection. I have always liked that thing and when the first Toy Story came out that is the first thing I said to all the people who were going, ‘I don’t know about this, it looks weird’ because it was computer-animated. I just said, ‘This friendship is great’.
Tom Hanks: Tim came into my life just like Buzz came into Woody’s. We seek each other all the time, we kind of talk in a code, but he is right and about Pixar, anybody who has worked on any Toy Story movie does not take their responsibilities lightly in order to test, shape it and not put it out until there is a reason to. There is a reason now because it is done and it will live up to the imprimatur of all other Toy Story movies.
Do you have a favourite moment in the film series?
Tim Allen: Unfortunately, whenever Buzz is quiet, I am not in it, but when Buzz realises he is a toy and he sits up in the attic and he slumps down and they close in on him and ‘I am good, I am brilliant’, I was actually saying it. I went, ‘Look at how good I am acting’ but then I went, ‘Wait a minute! That has nothing to do with me, it’s an animator who did it!’
But I loved that moment on his little face that happened, and the funniest one is when Sheriff Woody says, ‘You are a TOY!’ and my character shuts the visor and says, ‘You are a sad little man and you have my pity’. I do it all the time, my neighbours love it!
Tom Hanks: Mine is the end of Toy Story 3 and it’s a silent moment — they are all going to go meet their doom, they are all slowly being pushed into the fiery recycle bin, and they look to each other and they reach out for each other.
When that happens, this is in such a highly contrary (emotion) that I am so emotionally invested in inanimate toy objects that have so much more humanity in them than I can see. That moment alone is like something out of masterpieces of literature.
You both have embodied these characters so much, do you shout out anything at home, and your family goes like, that is something your character would you say?
Tom Hanks: No, my family just says, ‘You are so Woody!’ And they don’t mean that as we love you and you are adorable. I do that, ‘Come on Guys!’ I get into that kind of thing.
Tim Allen: I have gotten, ‘Who do you think you are, Buzz Lightyear?!’ Sometimes it works or I have done it on movies and sets. They’ll go, ‘What are we, Buzz Lightyear all of a sudden? I just say I am in a deeper register.
Tell us a little about the earliest days of Woody and Buzz.
Tim Allen: All I remember is this is a great story. Toy Story 4 is a transition into a much bigger world and I love these characters. I adore Hank’s friendship and I thank these two characters for this friendship.
Tom Hanks: From the very first moment in the first Toy Story, there is a comforting relationship that you have with these toys and it continues. What I would say is that Woody found a great comforting friend in Buzz, and Tom has found a great friend in Tim.
Where does Toy Story stand in your view, in your overall body of work?
Tim Allen: It is so special to me, because it forced me to be disciplined and on top of that, there is something innocent about this character, I wish I was, and it’s a beautiful experience. It is just way up there!
Tom Hanks: First, there is this sweep of it. I think we are probably on our fifth and sixth generation of people who are being introduced to Woody and Buzz. That is just powerful, because that is something you don’t take lightly nor the fact that it absolutely speaks to everybody of every age. The power and the bond of emotion you have with a toy, the thing from your childhood that spurred your imagination — I don’t discount the importance of that moment.
Tom, is this the end of Buzz and Woody’s adventures? Tim, how long can this franchise last?
Tom Hanks: I don’t know! You need to ask someone higher up on the food chain.
Tim Allen: We can have a Buzz Spinoff. The franchise can last to infinity and beyond!
Tom Hanks: But it would be half good (laughs).
Toy Story 4 premieres on Star Movies on 14 June, noon and 9 pm.