Last week, Geeks of Color had the pleasure of interviewing the creative minds behind Disney•Pixar’s latest movie Toy Story 4! I sat down with director, Josh Cooley and Producers Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen!
During the interview, the filmmakers talked about when the idea for Toy Story 4 came about and why they thought it was important for the characters to return. We also discussed what the Toy Story franchise meant to the.
You can read the interview below:
Q: Josh this is your directorial debut. Can you talk about what it was like to take on this iconic franchise?
Josh Cooley: Yeah, all of that was in my head, you know from the very beginning. This is an iconic franchise and this is Woody and buzz so then knowing that how much the world cares to these characters and how much that means to Pixar. The fabric of Pixar is out of Toy Story, so it was huge amount of pressure mostly from myself, but this team and this crew have worked together on so many movies. I knew that if I were alongside them this would work out and the crew that we had was just so amazing. Some of them worked on the original Toy Story and now they were like I want to work on number four! So just having this drive of wanting to do a great movie of doing great work was what made me feel like I can do this because everybody is behind me.
Q: When did you guys come up with the idea for Toy Story 4?
Jonas Rivera: Andrew said he was working on the outline while three was finishing. One of the writers and our executive producer kind of one of the Godfathers of Toy Story was kicking around that while 3 was going and we were working on Inside Out. I think he was coming up with just basic framework and it was basically the idea that that Andy’s story was just the end of three as great as an ending is that wasn’t really Woody’s ending. It’s the story of Andy kind of growing up letting go and so then the question out of that is well what happens when you do the job you said you were going to do and you do it well and you land on your feet, it has to be different. That was the first crack in the door of like, well, what if we could dramatize that and show a new Woody a little bit?
Q: Can you talk about balancing the new characters and while still keeping the original cast in the mix?
Cooley: I didn’t work at Pixar when Toy Story 1 & 2 came out so I saw those in the theater and I always loved the introduction of new toys every time and so that was something that really excited me. Like what can we do next with this film, but you’re also inheriting all of the family from before as well. From the first frame of the movie you already have Bonnie’s toys and Andy’s toys together so there’s just so many character. We would do all these different versions and one of them would be like, okay there’s all the characters we know but what about the new ones, then we would do another version and now then it was like there was too much of the new ones, where’s Rex and we’re Potato? So it was this balancing act over time that we finally got it to the middle.
Q: Where did the idea for Bonnie to create a new toy come from?
Rivera: We were joking a little bit while we all were watching our kids. My son, he thinks everything is a character and toy and just that that idea of like…Is that a toy? you know, and we would say is it? That made us laugh just that question. And we said well, what if actually was?
Cooley: The thing that made me laugh so hard as if the idea of a character that comes to life and has never seen the other Toy Story movies and doesn’t get what is is happening! And then how that could just mess up everything.. like the audience didn’t know it could happen. Woody didn’t know it didn’t know it could happen. So it’s a surprise to everyone.
Mark Nielsen: You really get to hear where Woody’s head’s at because he keeps trying to explain just how lucky this little Spork is to be loved by a kid, which is everything he’s wanted, and so we really get inside and find out what he’s thinking and what is important to him and what he values just because he’s talking to this sport can try to explain it all. It made us laugh that if you want to show how tied to his sense of duty, you make it a little piece of garbage and have it be the most important thing in the world.
Q: What Toy story means to them?
Nielsen: I worked on Toy Story 2, 20 years ago or whenever that was and so that movies always had such a special place in my heart. I think we thought that was going to be the end at that point. We thought we were sort of finishing it all up. So it’s been really special to get back into the lives and the minds of these characters work and on another story with these characters that we’ve grown up with and we’ve known that we’ve loved it and that have been part of my career all the way through. Just bringing them back to life and showing that there’s kind of more story that could be told with them even though we’ve known them for decades. That meant a lot to me.
Rivera: I worked on Toy Story 1 so I’ve been part of the company in these films since the beginning. I’m just a huge Disney Animation fan and Disneyland and I’m so honored to be part of something that’s kind of fabric of that. There’s people like myself that have been on these films since the beginning working right next to people that were four years old when the first one came out. So there’s a sense of protection like we want to protect it not mess it up. Tom Hanks said it felt like he was in Pinocchio. It was so cool to hear like it’s like a this part of the fabric of Disney and Pixar and I know we feel like we’re caretakers so it means the world to me.
Cooley: I feel like when I saw the first two toy stories in a theater before I was even working animation, I thought I was like, that’s my childhood. Like I’m watching my childhood on screen and now to be a part of that and like I never really did grow up and I still have all my toys and I still collect them and everything and my parents had a toy store so toys have kind of always been in my life and then also to see my kids growing up on it now. I don’t know it transcends anything that I’ve ever been a part of or if ever seen before so and then to be a part of this my God. So I think that’s why I’m having struggling to answer your question because it’s means of a lot.
Toy Story 4 is now in theaters. Check out our review here!