In April 2017, Don Rickles, who voiced Mr. Potato Head for the Toy Story franchise, passed away. Rather than recast the role for Toy Story 4 since recording had not begun when Rickles died, it was announced earlier this year that he will still serve as the voice of Mr. Potato Head thanks to archived audio. It’s also been revealed that the next Pixar movie will feature a tribute to the stand-up comedian. In director Josh Cooley’s words:
Yes we're gonna have a tribute to him. We, you know we went through everything that could possibly, he's recorded so we went through all the past films, all the shorts, all the video games, all the theme park stuff, all the ice- capades all the toys. He's done a lot over the past 25 years. And you know he did sign on to be on this film before he passed and so we're very honored for that and we're also very honored that his family asked us to see if can create a performance.
CinemaBlend’s own Dirk Libbey visited Pixar Animation Studios to learn more about Toy Story 4, and Don Rickle’s presence in the movie was among the topics discussed. Considering that Mr. Potato Head is one of the main supporting characters in the Toy Story franchise, as well as the fact that these movies introduced Rickles to an entire generation, and it’s incredibly fitting that Toy Story 4 will pay tribute to the man.
Aside from Don Rickle’s voice being featured in Toy Story 4, it will be interesting to see how the folks at Pixar honored him for the movie. I can easily imagine a short message being displayed onscreen either before or after the credits roll, but perhaps there will be a more unique way that the tribute unfolds. In any case, since it looks like Toy Story 4 could really be the end of this film series, it’s all the more appropriate that Rickles is properly commemorated here.
This isn’t the first time the Toy Story franchise has had to deal with the loss of a main cast member. In 2000, only a few months after Toy Story 2’s release, Jim Varney, the original voice of Slinky Dog, passed away. When it came time to record Toy Story 3, Blake Clark was tapped as Varney’s successor. But in Mr. Potato Head’s case, there was so much audio from a variety of projects that recasting the character for Toy Story 4 wasn’t necessary.
Toy Story 4 hits theaters on June 21, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for continuing coverage. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release schedule to learn what other major motion pictures are opening later this year.