Geeks of Color had the opportunity to attend the Toy Story 4 press days at Pixar. During the event we had the chance to learn about the new characters we will meet in the fourth instalment, as well as some old faces we haven’t seen in a while!
In this article we’re going to focus on the the new recruits. Let’s begin:
In Toy Story 4, when Bonnie finds herself all alone during kindergarten orientation, Woody just has to help—even if it means digging through a trash can to retrieve a few art supplies for his kid. The effort is a resounding success, but when Bonnie’s beloved new craft-project-turned-toy, Forky, declares himself trash and not a toy, Woody takes it upon himself to show Forky why he should embrace being a toy. “Forky is like a newborn,” said producer Mark Nielsen. “He doesn’t know anything about life—he doesn’t even understand why he’s alive or what a toy even is. He makes Woody vocalize what it means to be a toy.”
Filmmakers called upon comedian Tony Hale to provide the voice of Forky. Director Josh Cooley said, “When we thought up this character, Tony was the first actor that came to mind and I’m thrilled he accepted. Tony’s performance as Forky is a comedy salad of confidence, confusion and empathy… served by hilarious spork.”
DUCKY & BUNNY
Ducky and Bunny are carnival prizes who are eager to be won. But when their plans are rudely interrupted, they find themselves on an unexpected adventure with a group of toys who have no idea what it feels like to be tacked to a prize wall.
Mark Nielsen said, “Ducky and Bunny bring a new level of fun to the Toy Story universe. Their view of the world has been very singular as they go from town to town in the same booth staring out at the world. They have no moral compass because they’ve watched kid after kid spend money on a game that’s un-winnable by design. Not only are they learning bad things about human nature, they’re trapped because of it.”
“Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, who voice Ducky and Bunny, are two of the most brilliant minds I’ve ever seen,” said Cooley. “Of course, they are effortlessly funny, which would be enough. But they are incredible actors that understand story. Their improvs weren’t just for comedy sake, they were story motivated which elevated Ducky and Bunny and the film to a level I never could have expected.”
Gabby Gabby is an adorable, talking pull-string doll from the 1950s. But unfortunately for her, a manufacturing defect in her pull-string voice box has left her sounding anything but adorable. She has spent more than 60 years forgotten in the depths of a jam-packed antique store—her only companions are a band of voiceless ventriloquist dummies. Gabby Gabby knows someone will want her if only she can find a working voice box to repair hers.
Screenwriter Stephany Folsom said, “Gabby Gabby and Woody have the exact same philosophy, which is to be there for your kid no matter what. But unlike Woody, Gabby’s never actually had that experience, so she clings to the fantasy of what it would be like to be with a kid.”
Giggle McDimples is a miniature plastic doll from the 1980s Giggle McDimples toy line. Giggle is Bo Peep’s best friend. Small enough to perch on Bo’s shoulder, Giggle is Bo’s confidant, supporter and advisor. “Giggle is Bo’s Jiminy Cricket—we’re able to get insight on Bo through their relationship together,” said Cooley. “Giggle is definitely the smallest toy in the Toy Story universe. She’s been stepped on, vacuumed up, and probably put up a kid’s nose in her time.”
Ally Maki voices the tiny character. “Giggle McDimples literally pops on the screen because of Ally’s personality and infectious energy,” said Cooley. “Nobody can laugh like Ally Maki.”
Duke Caboom is a 1970s toy based on Canada’s greatest stuntman. Riding his powerful Caboom stunt-cycle, Duke is always prepared to show off his stunt poses with confidence and swagger. However, Woody learns quickly that Duke has an Achilles heel: He has never been able to do the awesome stunts advertised in his own toy commercial. For years, Duke has been sitting in an antique store, constantly reliving the failures of his tragic past.
Duke Caboom is voiced by the ledgendary Keanu Reeves. “The first time Josh [Cooley] and I talked with Keanu about the role, Keanu became Duke Caboom,” said producer Jonas Rivera. “Keanu was asking great questions that dug deep to find the soul of the character. At one point he stood up on the table in the middle of Pixar’s atrium and struck poses while proclaiming victory. It was so funny. It’s all in the movie and it’s all Keanu.”
Benson is a classic, antique ventriloquist dummy, and Gabby Gabby’s right hand. He leads a small group of ventriloquist dummies that serve as Gabby’s henchmen. With no person to give them a voice, these silent toys patrol the antique store with a looming quietness that is inherently unsettling.
“The dummies are, by far, some of the creepiest characters we’ve ever created,” said producer Mark Nielsen. “Our animators really leaned into the truth in materials for how our ventriloquist dummies move. Dummies’ bodies are soft with no structure, so our dummies’ arms just dangle and their legs bend backwards. Throw in their fixed expressions with their wide eyes and big hinged jaws and they’re nightmare material—in the best way possible.”
With new characters and new territories, the possibilities are endless for our beloved gang. Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 4 arrives in US theaters on June 21, 2019.