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Part of the magic of animated movies is how it often takes the focus off the actor and creates a celebrity out of a cartoon character. While the animation genre has begun to move more and more into enlisting famed names to voice its characters, it’s safe to assume most kids are not surfing IMDB after watching a movie like Toy Story 4.
Tim Allen just wrapped up playing Buzz Lightyear for Pixar over 25 years. He has a certain kind of authority with young audiences by being the voice of the Toy Story character. One time, the Home Improvement actor used it to his advantage, but it completely backfired. Here’s how the story goes, according to Allen:
I’m in Manhattan in an elevator and a young kid is misbehaving. Some kids at a certain age just punch you in the crotch, I don’t know what that’s about. It’s a certain age, they’re right there, they know it gets your attention. And so this kid was punching mom in the leg and really going nuts. So I said ‘To infinity and beyond! You shouldn’t treat your mom like that.’ And the kid looked all around the elevator and then started crying. And the mom’s looking at me like now she’s mad. And the kid goes ‘That ugly man swallowed Buzz Lightyear!’
As Tim Allen recalls, he thought he’d use his famous Buzz voice to stop a young child from misbehaving, but it ended with the kid crying and thinking Tim Allen had swallowed the astronaut toy. As he explained to The Kelly Clarkson Show, it taught him a valuable lesson to not use his Buzz voice outside of the cartoon environment, just as Warner Brothers legend Mel Blanc decided not to do with his voices for Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and so forth.
But Tim Allen did find a more effective method in his good friend and Toy Story co-star Tom Hanks. While Allen and the actor behind Woody were visiting a children’s hospital together, Hanks told the kids to close their eyes before they started their Woody and Buzz exchange to keep the imagination alive.
Tom Hanks famously showed off this technique while appearing on Ellen in 2016, when he was working on Toy Story 4. Hanks had the live audience close their eyes while he and Ellen’s Finding Dory character had a Pixar-off. Check out the sweet video below:
As Tom Hanks (who recently returned to the U.S. with his wife Rita Wilson after a bout with COVID-19 in Australia) pointed out that oftentimes it’s the parents who approach him about being Woody with their confused kids before he has them close their eyes. The highly popular animated franchise not only kicked off Pixar’s legacy, but created a real-life friendship between the voices of Woody and Buzz.
The Toy Story characters were given an emotional sendoff in last summer’s fourth film, which is available on home media and can be streamed on Disney+ (which is offering a free seven-day trial).