Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Late Don Rickles Hadn't Recorded Any 'Toy Story 4' Dialogue

The untimely passing of renowned insult comedian Don Rickles this past Thursday has undoubtedly raised concerns about Toy Story 4...

Rickles, as many of you know, was the voice of Mr. Potato Head. The character, based on the classic toy of the same name, is no minor face. He plays a good-sized role in each of the three films in the Toy Story series, and was a big part of the TV special Toy Story of Terror!

Toy Story 4 has been in development for a while, and unlike its predecessors, it's taking quite a while for the Pixarians to get this one in fine shape. Announced in the fall of 2014 and slated for release this coming summer, it is now set to open in June of 2019. A new writer was recently added to the project, and the Hollywood Reporter states that the picture did indeed see some rewrites. Rickles' representative told THR that he had not recorded any dialogue for the film...

This isn't the first time Pixar has gone through this with franchises.

Jim Varney, the voice of Slinky Dog in the first two Toy Story films, died a year after the release of Toy Story 2. When Toy Story 3 entered active development in 2006, Pixar found a replacement in Blake Clark, who sounded pretty close.

With Cars 2, they went the other direction for one character. Two voice actors in the first film died two years after Cars came out: George Carlin and Paul Newman. Carlin played Volkswagon hippie bus Fillmore, Pixar got Lloyd Sherr - who voiced the character in a video game spin-off - to replace him. As for Newman... John Lasseter and crew felt he was irreplaceable, and it's quickly implied in the sequel that Doc - a 1951 Hudson Hornet - died. Weirdly enough, in the latest Cars 3 trailer, there's a voice in it that sounds eerily similar to Newman's. Is it an archive recording? Something from another car-centric (since he was a race car driver) movie of his? Or a really good soundalike?

There is no solid plan for Toy Story 4 concerning Mr. Potato Head. I have no idea whether the story is the same or not, or if the recent rewrites have really changed things. To my understanding, Toy Story 4 was going to be about Woody and Buzz - no one else - setting off on a road trip to find Bo Peep. It's said to be its own beast, something not really connected to the trilogy's whole storyline. Like a feature-length equivalent of the TV specials.

Another big Disney-owned franchise is facing a similar problem. Recently, it was reported that leftover footage of Carrie Fisher might be used to create Leia's storyline in Episode IX. Director Colin Trevorrow recently confirmed that the first draft script for that film is done. It could be a Furious 7 situation. Something similar might be done for Toy Story 4, as it has been reported that pre-existing Rickles tracks will be used for the character.

I have no idea how Pixar will go about all of this... I have no theories, but I will say this. I don't think you can write a character like Mr. Potato Head out of Toy Story. Unless Toy Story 4 is set in the far future where a much older Bonnie has - for whatever reason - sold off all of her toys, I don't think it can be done. Recasting? Don't think it can really be done, either. Maybe it's time to introduce a new toy gang and have the ensuing franchise entries - because you know Disney is going to want those - be about them. Woody and co will still be around in the form of the trilogy, the TV specials, the merchandise, and theme park attractions...

I really don't know...

What do you think will happen?

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