Why Cars 3 Worked So Hard To Use Paul Newman's Voice Again

Doc Hudson in Cars

Cars 3 is a film that in many ways brings the career of Lightning McQueen full circle, but in order for it to do that, it was necessary that it go back to the beginning. I've already written about how Cars 3 brought back Paul Newman's character of Doc Hudson back, however, what's truly important about the fact that Pixar made the decision to bring back Doc is that they didn't simply do it on a whim. It was vital to the story that Cars 3 wanted to tell that Doc is part of the story. It's important for Lightning that he is there, and it's equally important for the audience. According to co-producer Andrea Warren...

I just think it's so arresting to hear his voice again, it's just so meaningful. It was this voice from beyond in some ways. It's so meaningful for McQueen but I think even just to hear it, you know.

In Cars 3, when Lightning McQueen finds himself recovering from a massive crash that might put him out of racing for good, he remembers how the exact same thing happened to his mentor Doc Hudson. Lightning is committed to making sure that what happened to Doc, being forced out of racing and left behind, doesn't happen to him. That premise essentially requires that Doc Hudson is in your movie, and just showing his picture wasn't going to be enough. For the impact to truly be felt we have to hear Paul Newman's voice. Of course, Doc Hudson has passed away in the movie, as Paul Newman has in real life, which only makes hearing that voice more impactful for Lightning.

Of course, as Andrea Warren points out, it isn't only impactful for Lightning McQueen. It is for the audience as well. Cars was the last movie that Paul Newman was involved in before he passed away, making the movie special for both fans of the movie and fans of Newman himself. When Lightning McQueen remembers Doc Hudson, the audience remembers Paul Newman, making those moments resonate for the audience.

If you're a fan of Paul Newman and/or the Cars franchise, I can say that you'll likely be very happy with what Cars 3 has done. Paul Newman's presence in the new film isn't forced or overdone. He appears where he needs to be and then the movie moves on. The lines feel like they were recorded specifically for Cars 3 as if somehow Newman knew what would be needed one day in the future. If Paul Newman were still with us it would be great to see him playing Doc Hudson again. The fact that he's gone makes his few moments in Cars 3 incredibly special. It may give you chills to hear that voice again. It did me.

Cars 3 opens in theaters Friday.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.