Toy Story 3

Interview mit Darla K. Anderson & Lee Unkrich – Teil 2

Hier nun der zweite Teil des Interviews.

Who was the funniest actor/actress to work with on the set?

Lee Unkrich: You know, they’re all funny. Truly. We are so lucky to get to work with so many incredibly talented, super-funny people. It’s impossible to single out any one of them as my favorite. But I will say that I have many fond memories of laughing REALLY hard at recording sessions with Kristen Schaal, who plays the triceratops Trixie in the film.

Did you expect this kind of huge success?

Lee Unkrich: Has the film done well? They haven’t told me. Seriously, no, we didn’t. Of course, we knew there was a great deal of love for the Toy Story characters, and we knew the film was highly anticipated. But to become the biggest film of the year, both critically and commercially? We didn’t even dare dream that would happen. It’s been an amazing ride.

I am curious for both Lee and Darla…how long did Toy Story 3 take to make?

Lee Unkrich: We spent just over four years creating Toy Story 3. Two-and-a-half years of that was devoted to working on the story, as well as the design of the film.

I noticed that Bo Beep was not in the third movie. Why?

Lee Unkrich: That was a very difficult decision to make. We wanted to show that time had passed in Andy’s room, and that things had necessarily changed. We decided that most of Andy’s peripheral toys would be gone, since he was now 17 and wouldn’t realistically have all of his childhood toys. We also wanted to create an environment of danger — that time was short for the remaining toys, and that any of them might be next to go. We also thought it would be powerful to have one of the central, beloved toys be gone, and to be emblematic of the fact that as we live our lives, change happens and we sometimes lose people in our lives that we love. Bo Peep as a toy was actually part of a nursery lamp. We figured that lamp wouldn’t be around any more, so we decided to make Bo Peep the main toy that was no longer around. We also felt her absence would give Woody a deep feeling of loss, since she was the love of his life.

This film is great, don’t you feel sorry because the story is over?

Lee Unkrich: Absolutely. When Andy is giving the toys to Bonnie at the end of the film, and talking about how great each one is, in a way, the scene is an opportunity for all of us to say goodbye to them as well. We hold the characters very close to our hearts, and it was certainly very emotional for us when we completed the film.

Where did you get your inspiration to make Toy Story 3?

Darla Anderson: The creators of the first 2 films, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich, myself and some others went to the same cabin where we cooked up the first Toy Story. Within the 2 day retreat we came up with the major story points, including the ending, and then spent four long years fleshing it out. All of us have grown up a lot ourselves in the last 15 years at Pixar, and I think some of that life experience showed up in the film. When we decided to make Andy almost grown up and going off to college, it was something that many of us are experiencing with our own kids. Also, thinking of this film as a third installment in a trilogy and bringing it to a lovely conclusion helped inspire our storytelling.

I think Toy Story 3 is the best of the three films, is this a sign that the job is done right?

Lee Unkrich: For you, yes! I’ve talked to many people about the film. Some like the first Toy Story the best, some like the second. And many like the third the best. Ultimately, the most important thing as that people feel the three films hang together as a WHOLE. When we conceived of the story for Toy Story 3, it was very important to us that it not be an unnecessary, grafted-on sequel. We wanted the audience to feel like we were telling one large, over-arcing story across the three films. I just tried to make a film that was worthy of sitting alongside the first two, and if people feel like that is the case, then I’ve succeeded.

Did you consider dropping Slinky Dog from the movies due to Jim Varney’s passing?

Darla Anderson: Yes, we did consider dropping Slinky out of respect for Jim, but decided that Slinky was an important part of our ensemble and that Jim would want him to live on. We were fortunate to cast Blake Clark, a wonderful actor, in the role of Slinky Dog; he had a wonderful quality to his voice and he was friends with Jim and so that brought an extra level experience and veracity to the performance.

I promised my son, now six, that I’d ask: where is Andy’s dad? While his absence is never addressed in the ‚Toy Story‘ films, do you, as storytellers, keep such things in mind when developing a character like Andy?

Lee Unkrich: You know, we never really explicitly answer that question. We think it’s better to leave it more vague. I know that each of us at Pixar has our own idea of why Andy’s Dad isn’t around, but we don’t think it’s important for there to be a concrete reason. I think it makes it more interesting to leave that answer to the audience’s imagination.

Making a second sequel to Toy Story after all these years must have been a rather big decision. You must have felt some pressure, right? What convinced you to commit to Toy Story 3 in the end?

Lee Unkrich: It was a HUGE amount of pressure, not only to be making a new Pixar film after an unbroken string of ten hits, but also to make a sequel to two of the most beloved and critically-acclaimed films of all time. However, we love Woody and Buzz and the rest of the gang, and we felt that there was more story to tell. We would never have made another sequel if we didn’t feel like we had a story worth telling. Once we came up with the idea of Andy being grown up, and the toys having to face, head-on, their own obsolescence, we knew we had to make the film. It just had too much rich, emotional potential to pass up.

How was your world tour with Darla? Besides the stress, did you have the possibility to see or experience something while visiting other countries and cultures?

Lee Unkrich: I love to travel, so the international promotion of Toy Story 3 was a great opportunity. I actually brought my entire family, including my three children, along for the ride. Despite a lot of work and a lot of interviews, I still managed to see a bit of each country we visited. I considered it a kind of „tasting platter“ for future leisure travel. In the end, the most exciting aspect of our travels was the universal love for Toy Story 3. Everybody everywhere seemed to really enjoy the film.

Who was the funniest actor/actress to work with on the set?

Darla Anderson: All of the actors we work with are hilarious!!! We were so lucky to work with people who are so inherently funny and talented. Working with Don Rickles was priceless; each session was like a live performance in Vegas. The range of performance spanned the gamut from watching Michael Keaton work out the character of Ken, or Estelle Harris screaming out her Ninja warrior cries (from the first sequence) it would be next to impossible to pick who was the funniest. –truly each actor that we work with are all comedic geniuses. My only issue was trying not to laugh during the recordings so I wouldn’t ruin a take. I think I must have the best job in the world.

The „Day Care as Toy’s Paradise“ was one of the earliest ideas for the first movie. When did you get the idea to turn the paradise into the harsher place the toys see?

Lee Unkrich: We came up with that idea right away. „Day care as paradise“ seemed like the perfect solution to all of the toys‘ troubles, but if it actually had been, we wouldn’t have a movie, right? We had to pull the carpet out from under them. We started to realize that day cares were like prisons in a lot of ways, both visually and philosophically, and once we came to that realization, we embraced it and ran with it. We had great fun finding all the parallels between the two.

How have the characters developed from the original film? How are they the same, how are they different?

Lee Unkrich: That’s always one of the challenges in doing a sequel — finding new ways for the characters to grow, new things for them to learn. On one hand, you want them to remain their entertaining selves, and most of the time, especially with the side characters, they stay the same. With a character like Woody, however, there needs to be growth. Woody has always been fiercely devoted to Andy, and in this film, that faith is really tested. Woody needs to learn how to let go, how to say goodbye, and it’s a very difficult journey for him.

How did you decide on which of Andy’s toys got broken or lost?

Lee Unkrich: We decided that any of the toys that were not part of the core gang of toys (Woody, Buzz, Potato Heads, etc.) would be unfortunately left behind. Andy is now 17, and it just didn’t seem realistic that all the toys would still be around. It was hard for us to say goodbye to many of the characters, but we felt it was the right thing to do for the story that we were telling.

This film is great, don’t you feel sorry because the story is over?

Darla Anderson: Yes, there were a lot of mixed emotions in concluding this trilogy. Part of the power of the story is that it came to it’s inevitable end, but yes, it’s also bittersweet because it’s the end of an era. At the same time, I’m very proud of the trilogy and the courage to tell a story that is so filled with classic themes and that has touched so many people around the world. It’s been a privilege to be part of such an iconic body of work.

Have things like Internet PR and DVD bonus features changed the way you make movies?

Lee Unkrich: Not really, but we have had to get used to every inch of our lives being documented by the behind-the-scenes crews! Sometime I felt like I was on a reality show. I ultimately got used to them, however, and I think it makes for some great making-of segments on the DVD and Blu-ray.

I read a lot about the differences between editing and directing a movie and an animation. Which one do you prefer (if you do prefer one)?

Lee Unkrich: Not sure if you mean a preference between editing and directing or between animation and live-action. I love all of them. Even though I am now directing, I still edit, and always will. It’s an essential part of filmmaking, and is central to how my mind thinks and problem-solves. Regarding animation vs. live action, I love both. I have been especially attracted to animation these past sixteen years because it affords me a level of control over my work that is just not possible in live-action. And, being at Pixar, I feel completely supported as an artist and am given the room and the time to make the films the best they can possibly be.

Have things like Internet PR and DVD bonus features changed the way you make movies?

Darla Anderson: No, we stay intensely focused on the story telling and film making in all it’s aspects. What has changed is that we try and document the making of the film as much as we can so that we can show the world our process and behind the scenes. There’s a lot very cool extras that show us in action during the making of the film.

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What you guys are most excited about the DVD release of Toy Story 3? Is like sharing your hard work with an even bigger audience?

Darla Anderson: Yes, although the film opened so big, I know that there are still a lot of people who haven’t seen the film who will now be introduced to the new story and characters. I’m very excited for more people to experience our movie!!

The impact that Toy Story3 had in all over the world it is amazing especially hear in Mexico where the kids are such a fans of the film, what does it mean to you?

Lee Unkrich: It’s incredibly rewarding to see people all over the world responding to the film like they have. Incredibly rewarding. We work very hard on the films we make, but that’s never any guarantee that they’ll be good or that people will like them. It’s an incredible relief that the world seems to really love and embrace Toy Story 3.

What are the advantages of having your voice cast work in isolation, instead of bringing them together and having them play off each other?

Lee Unkrich: Well, there are positives and negatives to that. The negatives are that we have to work very hard to create an illusion of spontaneity, and that the actors are having to work in isolation and don’t have the luxury of working off of another actor. On the flip-side, we are given a great deal of control over the final performances, and the actors are able to really focus on their individual performances rather than their part in the ensemble.

The impact that Toy Story3 had in all over the world it is amazing especially hear in Mexico where the kids are such a fans of the film, what does it mean to you?

Darla Anderson: I can’t express, as an artist, how rewarding it is for so many people so see the movie we’ve worked so hard to produce. We all realize that we are very fortunate that our movie was so popular in Mexico as well as around the world.

What is coming next from Pixar? What projects are you both working on that you can tell us a little about?

Lee Unkrich: Our next film is ‚Cars 2‘, coming next summer. The film after that is titled ‚Brave‘, and is a really fun Scottish period-piece. Unfortunatey, I can’t tell you anything about what Darla and I are doing next, other than that we will be working together again at Pixar.

What is your next project? Are you working on a movie?

Darla Anderson: Lee and I enjoyed working with each other so much, that we’re going to work on a new film together at Pixar. It’s so far off int he future, we can’t talk about it! What’s next for the studio is Cars 2 coming out next summer!

Tom Hanks has said, „Bring it on“ when asked about a possible TS4, and Tim Allen is under contract for another sequel. Are you planning on making TS4?

Lee Unkrich: We don’t currently have any plans to make a Toy Story 4. We tried really hard to bring the story of Andy and his toys to a really nice close. We take it as a great compliment that people are interested in another film, but for now, we’re going to focus on other stories.

Tom Hanks has said, „Bring it on“ when asked about a possible TS4, and Tim Allen is under contract for another sequel. Are you planning on making TS4?

Darla Anderson: At this point in time we don’t have plans for toy Story 4. We worked really hard to conclude this trilogy in a beautiful way.

Lee, any final thoughts as we wrap up this Toy Story 3 roundtable?

Lee Unkrich: I just want to thank everyone for your great questions, and for participating in this today. Sorry I couldn’t get to everyone, but my fingers are now bloody stubs and they’re telling me it’s time to go. So long!

Darla, any final thoughts on Toy Story 3 as we close this roundtable?

Darla Anderson: I originally came to Pixar over 17 years ago to work on Toy Story, but the company needed me to run another division at the time. So to come full circle and have the privilege to produce this film was very much a dream come true for me. We had a wonderful team, many of them Pixar veterans, and I had so much fun that I didn’t want it to end. I think a lot of the enthusiasm of our team showed up on the screen.

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