In November 1995, a little animated movie by the name of Toy Story came onto the scene and forever changed the trajectory of the studio that made it — Pixar — as well as animation as we know it. Over the course of the past 26 years, Pixar has grown into one of the premier studios around, the Toy Story franchise has seen three highly successful sequels, and the film’s ensemble voice cast has gone on to be one of the most prominent groups of actors in film, television, and beyond.
But, with so much time having passed, you are probably wondering what Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and the rest of the original Toy Story cast has been up to all these years. If so, you’ve got a friend in me because I have put together a quick yet comprehensive rundown of the stars and what they’ve been doing to keep busy the past few years.
Tom Hanks (Woody)
Tom Hanks was in the middle of arguably the most successful period of his career when Toy Story came out in late 1995. He had just been named Best Actor at the Academy Awards two years in a row (Philadelphia and Forrest Gump), and was about to start one of the greatest creative partnerships of the past quarter-century when he and Steven Spielberg began working together. Hanks has remained just as relevant (and busy) the past 26 years, appearing in everything from the Toy Story sequels to the highly-successful trilogy based on The Da Vinci Code novels, and dozens of other movies, including A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which earned him his first Oscar nomination since Cast Away in 2001.
In the past 26 years, Tom Hanks has also become one of the most successful producers in Hollywood, having won a total of seven Primetime Emmy Awards for shows like From the Earth to the Moon, Band of Brothers, and The Pacific. His collection of CNN docuseries about everything from the final decades of the 20th Century to the history of cinema have also been massive hits.
Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear)
In the years since providing the commanding and self-assured voice of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story, Tim Allen has had one hell of a career. On top of portraying the Space Ranger toy in all of the film’s popular sequels and various shorts and specials over the years, Allen has remained a fixture of family-friendly entertainment with movies like The Shaggy Dog, Wild Hogs, and various voice roles, including serving as the narrator of Adventures of the Penguin King and Chimpanzee as well as cameos in a number of Disney movies.
Tim Allen’s biggest and most notable role in recent years has been that of Mike Baxter on the ABC/Fox comedy series Last Man Standing, which was on the air from 2011 until 2021 when the show wrapped after 194 episodes. Allen is currently the co-host of the History Channel program Assembly Required alongside his Home Improvement co-star Richard Kern.
Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head)
Actor, author, and stand-up comedy legend Don Rickles was already one of the most iconic figures in the world of entertainment when he lent his signature voice to the grouchy Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story, a role he would reprise multiple times before his death in April 2017. The legendary performer, whose character was a major part of the Pixar franchise, appeared in one final movie following his death: 2019’s Toy Story 4, which was pulled off by using archival recordings from previous installments.
In the years leading up to his passing, Don Rickles received multiple honors at the Primetime Emmy Awards, The Comedy Awards, and the New York Friars Club for his contributions to the arts.
Jim Varney (Slinky Dog)
The late great Jim Varney helped take Slinky Dog from a secondary character in Toy Story to one of the most important figures in the movie with his iconic performance. Sadly, Varney passed away following a short battle with lung cancer in February 2000, just a couple of months after Toy Story 2 was released in theaters. Best known for his portrayal of the lovable titular character in the Ernest franchise, Varney’s final two performances were in Daddy and Them and Atlantis: The Lost Empire, both of which were released following his death. The role of Slinky Dog was taken over by Blake Clark starting with the 2010 release of Toy Story 3.
Wallace Shawn (Rex)
What would Toy Story be without Rex, the neurotic dinosaur toy, and what would the character be without the voice work of the inconceivably talented Wallace Shawn? Since first bringing the green dino toy to life in 1995, Shawn has reprised his role time and time again in all the theatrical releases in the franchise as well as countless shorts (including the treasure that is 2012’s Partysaurus Rex). Outside of the realm of Pixar and Disney movies, Shawn has remained busy with recent movies like Marriage Story, Rifkin’s Festival, and The Addams Family 2. Wallace Shawn has also appeared in multiple TV shows in recent years, including Young Sheldon, on which he plays Dr. John Sturgis.
John Ratzenberger (Hamm)
When John Ratzenberger took on the role of Hamm the piggy bank in Toy Story it was the first of many appearances by the former Cheers star in Pixar movies. Over the years, everyone’s favorite mailman has appeared in Cars, Inside Out, and countless other Pixar titles, with the most recent being the 2021 Disney+ streaming series Monsters at Work. Ratzenberger has also taken on smaller and one-off roles on shows like Bob Hearts Abishola, The Goldbergs, and Mom in recent years.
As a callback to his iconic Cheers role, John Ratzenberger recorded a public service announcement for the United States Postal Service in the summer of 2020 to drum up support in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and budget cuts.
Annie Potts (Bo Peep)
Annie Potts first played the porcelain doll Bo Peep in Toy Story, a character that would become the focal point of the franchise’s fourth installment 24 years later. In addition to playing the undeniable badass of Toy Story 4, Potts has spent the past few years appearing on shows like Royal Pains, I Heart Arlo, and Young Sheldon, on which she plays Constance "Connie" Tucker, better known as Meemaw.
The film side of Annie Potts’ career has been just as busy in recent years, with movies like Humor Me, Happy Anniversary, Arlo the Alligator Boy, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife, in which she returns to the franchise as the smart-mouthed receptionist Janine Melnitz.
John Morris (Andy Davis)
John Morris was just a young actor when he auditioned for the role of Andy Davis in Toy Story, a performance that he has been connected to ever since. In the years following the film’s release, Morris has appeared in all three sequels as well as various video games and specials in the franchise. In addition to returning briefly for Toy Story 4 in 2019, Morris also lent his voice to the animated series Timon and Pumbaa at the Movies, once again portraying Andy.
Erik Von Detten (Sid Phillips)
Erik von Detten was an up-and-coming child actor when he landed the role of Andy Davis’ demented next door neighbor, Sid Phillips, in Toy Story. In the years following the film’s release, von Detten’s momentum continued with lead roles on shows like The Pinocchio Shop, Recess, and Odd Men Out, and much more. In 2001, he landed a spot in The Princess Diaries, in which he portrayed Josh Bryant, Mia Thermopolis’ (Anne Hathaway) self-centered classmate who makes a move at her in an attempt to make himself a hot commodity.
Erik Von Detten would later play Sid Phillips in 2010’s Toy Story 3, which happens to be his final acting performance. In a March 2021 interview with E! Online, the former child star revealed that he has been working in finance ever since stepping away from show business.
Laurie Metcalf (Mrs. Davis)
When Laurie Metcalf joined the Toy Story cast as Andy’s mom, she was one of the most recognizable faces on television thanks to her portrayal of Jackie Harris on Roseanne, a role that earned her three consecutive Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in the early 1990s. In the years following the success of Pixar’s first movie, Metcalf has returned to the franchise for all three subsequent sequels.
In more recent years, Laurie Metcalf has come back to television as Jackie Harris, first on the 2018 revival of Roseanne, then on its spinoff series The Conners, which is still on the air today. On top of that, Metcalf has had a successful stage career, with her most recent productions being Hillary and Clinton (she played Hillary Clinton) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf as co-lead, Martha.
R. Lee Ermey (Sarge)
R. Lee Ermey, the Marine-turned-actor who is probably best known for his depiction of the no-nonsense drill instructor in Full Metal Jacket portrayed Sarge in Toy Story, as well as the second and third installments in the franchise. Ermey, who appeared in Seven the same year he played a toy soldier in a Pixar movie, passed away in April 2018 at the age of 74. He continued to provide voice work for shows like The Simpsons in the years leading up to his passing in addition to hosting the docuseries GunnyTime and Military Makeover.
Sarah Rayne (Hannah Phillips)
Sarah Rayne, formerly Sarah Freeman, provided the voice of Sid Phillips’ younger sister Hannah in Toy Story, which came in the early stages of her career. In the years following her appearance in the 1995 Pixar movie, Freeman had one-off roles on shows like Star Trek: Voyager, ER, Arli$$, and Without a Trace, as well as larger performances on Legacy, The Practice, and 7th Heaven. She would later reprise her Toy Story role on the 2019 animated series Timon and Pumbaa at the Movies. From 2013 to 2016 she performed with the indie rock band, Babes.
Other members of the Toy Story cast include comedian Penn Jillette and Pixar animator Jeff Pidgeon, who provided the voices of the Buzz Lightyear TV commercial announcer and Alien squeeze toys, respectively. And, just like the main members of the cast, both have been quite busy over the years in the entertainment industry.
- Check out the other Toy Story characters we think should get their own spinoff.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.