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How Toy Story 4 Included Don Rickles After His Death

Mr. and Mrs. Potato head

The Toy Story franchise has been capturing moviegoers attention and breaking hearts since 1995, and the iconic group of toys will soon return to theaters with the upcoming fourth movie. Toy Story 4 will pick up on Woody, Buzz and company now that they're living with Bonnie, and will reunite them with Annie Potts' Bo Peep in the process. But there's another toy who fans were worried about as the movie was being worked on: Mr. Potato Head.

Potato Head was voiced by comedy legend Don Rickles. But when Rickles passed away in 2017, fans worried about the character's future in Toy Story 4. But Rickles is still on the cast in the upcoming sequel, and director Josh Cooley recently explained how Mr. Potato Head was given life, saying:

We went back through all of the outtakes for all of the films, all the shorts, all the video games, all the ice-capades shows, every possible thing, and there was a lot of Don Rickles. So I wouldn’t say it was easy, but there was a lot to work with. So I’m very, very, very honored that he’s in this film.

It seems that nothing is impossible in the current age of film, and that includes bringing characters to life on screen after the actor in question passes on. The Star Wars franchise has famously made strides in this department, and now it look like Toy Story 4 will follow suit.

Josh Cooley's comments to Comic Book are sure to be a relief for Toy Story fans, who were worried about how the fourth movie would be utilizing Mr. Potato Head in the wake of Don Rickles' death. But Cooley and his team utilized the Disney Vault, and found unused footage from the first three Toy Story movies, as well as the various specials that he recorded content for.

Since Toy Story 4 is an animated blockbuster, the House of Mouse doesn't have the pressure of bringing Don Rickles' physical likeness to theaters. Instead, Mr. Potato Head's movement and participation in scenes can be built around what extra dialogue Josh Cooley found. As such, it will probably not be super obvious that previously recorded dialogue is being utilized in the upcoming movie.

Related: Full Toy Story 4 Trailer Brings Back Bo Peep And Even Andy

In addition to keeping Don Rickles as Potato Head in Toy Story 4, the upcoming movie will also contain a special tribute to the late comedian. Considering his contributions to the franchise and comedy as a whole, it's safe so say Rickles deserves it.

The Star Wars franchise is pulling a similar (albeit far more ambitious) move with The Rise of Skywalker. Carrie Fisher's General Leia will have a role thanks to unused footage of the late actress in previous two installments. And Fisher's brief appearance in the first trailer is already enough to make fans well up.

You can see Don Rickles' final bow as Mr. Potato Head when Toy Story 4 arrives in theaters on June 21st. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies

Corey Chichizola
Corey Chichizola

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.