The movie that started it all for Pixar, not only was Toy Story the first film put out by that animation studio but it was beloved enough to spawn what turned out to be a successful franchise. A series that is made up of 3 films that were huge hits at the box office, they've also received critical acclaim and the lowest-rated Toy Story film on Rotten Tomatoes is the third, which sits at 99%.
Seminal films for at least an entire generation of kids, it is safe to say that fans of this series have paid great attention to everything that appears on screen in the series. However, many of the biggest fans of the franchise have no idea about some of the most interesting things that went on behind the scenes during the production of the Toy Story trilogy. For that reason, it is time to look at this list of 20 behind the scenes things you didn’t know about the Toy Story films.
In order for a fact to be considered for possible inclusion on this list, it first and foremost needs to relate to behind the scenes information about the Toy Story movies in one way or another. For instance, you could find details relating to the production of any of the Toy Story movies that have made it to the big screen. On top of that, anything related to planned crossovers or other attempts to extend the franchise could end up here too.
20 Billy Crystal Was the First Choice for Woody
One of the biggest film stars of all-time, Tom Hanks has eschewed the action movies that typically result in superstardom but he has still managed to become a huge deal. Known for his many stellar performances, he has won a long list of awards and starred in several films that earned the respect of fans and critics alike. Near the top of his craft for more than two decades at this point, over those years he has only agreed to star in one series of animated films, the Toy Story franchise. However, he was only offered the part of Woody after Billy Crystal turned it down. Speaking about that decision, Crystal said,
"It's the only regret I have in the business of something I passed on" which is why he later starred in a different Pixar project and its sequel.
We have to admit though, Monsters, Inc. is also pretty epic.
19 Woody was supposed to be a bully
Far from a perfect character, in the first Toy Story film, Woody is overcome with jealousy and does some questionable things but it still remains clear that he truly cares about Andy and all of his fellow toys. However, if that movie had not undergone some massive changes at Disney’s insistence, Woody would have been a very different character.
In an effort to create “something different and edgy” according to Pixar producer Darla K. Anderson, the original version of Woody has been described as being “relentlessly cruel to the other toys.”
Fortunately for everyone involved, it was relatively easy for the character’s direction to be dramatically shifted after Disney pushed Pixar to make him the likeable toy fans know and love.
18 Toy Story 2 Was Almost Entirely Deleted
The kind of project that takes a small army to come to fruition, at any given time, a long list of animators would be working on a film like Toy Story 2. As a result, many people had access to the computers all existing animation was stored on and around a year before Toy Story 2 hit theaters, 90% of the film was deleted. Potentially a devastating loss that would have cost the studio a small fortune and a great deal of time, the film’s technical director Galyn Susman came to the rescue. Opting to do some of her work on the film from home, that involved her making a copy of almost all of the completed animation for the film which was the only reason that work was not lost forever.
17 Tom Hanks’ Brother Sometimes Voiced Woody
One of the most in-demand movie stars in the world, partly because he seems to be a genuinely fantastic human being, Tom Hanks could be the single most beloved actor in all of Hollywood. Of course, another key factor in his immense popularity is the fact that he has played pivotal roles in a long list of popular movies. With all of that in mind, it should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that Tom’s life is an extremely busy one. As a result, Tom isn’t always available when it comes time for somebody to voice his animated character, Woody. Fortunately, when push comes to shove, Tom’s brother Jim Hanks is available to provide a voice for things like Woody toys or videos.
16 Toy Story Credits Include Baby Names
Let’s face facts, most movie watchers pay little attention once the end credits begin to roll. In fact, many people turn the movie off at that point, unless they believe there is a post credits sequence or something else of that nature. However, giving the end credits your attention is a magnificent way to learn just how many people contribute to a movie coming to fruition.
Choosing to add an all-new section to its end credits, the first Toy Story movie was the first film in history to include the names of any child the people working on it had during the production process.
Something that has been seen in several movies' end credits since then, including Pixar films, it clearly is meaningful to those involved.
15 Toy Story 3 Broke Ground at the Academy Awards
Released in 2010, if you were worried that Toy Story 3 would be a huge disappointment before it came out nobody could blame you. After all, it first hit theaters just under 11 years after Toy Story 2 was first released. The kind of gap that typically means a sequel will underperform at best, it would be a shame if Toy Story 3 turned out to be similar to other sequels like Zoolander 2 or Dumb and Dumber To. Fortunately for everyone involved, the film exceeded most people’s expectations and managed to become a huge hit. Also embraced by critics, it is the first sequel in history to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar when its predecessor failed to get that nod.
14 Toy Story Features a Reference to The Shining
The kind of movie that tends to bring a happy smile to people’s faces when they think of it, Toy Story is a classic movie that the whole family can enjoy together. On the other end of the spectrum, many people consider The Shining to be a masterpiece but it is safe to say that most parents would not be comfortable with their little ones watching it. Despite that, the makers of Toy Story decided to include a clear reference to the horror classic that was released in 1980. Visible once Buzz and Woody end up in the home of toy torturer Sid, the carpet in his house is exactly the same as some seen inside the Overlook Hotel from The Shining.
13 Toy Story Animators Strapped Boards to their Feet
The kind of thing that has happened more often than you think, if you research the history of film you will learn that many animators study real-life movement in order to recreate them in cartoon form. A process that allowed previous animated movies to feature animals moving in ways that felt realistic, when it came time to animate Toy Story that was not an issue. However, there was one challenge the Toy Story animators were not sure how to tackle — designing the movements of the little green army men.
Turning to an age-old trick, they strapped boards to their feet and walked around in order to understand how the army men should move.
You do what you got to do! Clearly it worked out in the end.
12 Toy Story 3 Was Partially Inspired by the Original Plot of the First Film
Released with almost a 15-year gap in between them, Toy Story 3’s animation far surpasses the first film in the series. Despite that, there was still one way in which animated movies had not changed in the intervening years, the importance of storytelling. Clearly inspired by the characters seen in the 2 movies that came before it, Toy Story 3 also was partially inspired by a concept that was pitched for the first film in the series.
Originally planned to feature Tinny from a Pixar short film, Toy Story would have ended with him ending up at a preschool where he is cherished by generations of kids.
The preschool aspect of that has to sound familiar to anyone that has seen Toy Story 3.
11 Toy Story Was Made on a Relatively Tiny Budget
An extremely difficult task, when a film is the first of its kind that tends to hamper its success. After all, the movies that follow suit are able to learn from the mistakes that the trailblazer makes which is a huge advantage. However, Toy Story was the first full-length computer-animated film and it is still seen as one of the best family films of all-time.
If that weren’t impressive enough, there also is the fact that it was produced on a much smaller budget than many animated movies released in the '90s.
For instance, The Lion King cost $45 million to make and had a crew of 800, while Toy Story was produced for $30 million and only had 110 people work on it.
10 Toy Story 2 Almost Went Direct to Home Video
An era in which Disney seemed to make a long list of short sighted decisions, during the '90s and '00s they produced several subpar direct to video sequels to their beloved films. Designed to cash in on characters and stories that millions of people loved, it was a quick way to make money but in the long term, it diluted their brand for a time. A fate that almost was suffered by the Toy Story franchise, since Disney had the rights to do so, they almost moved forward on an hour long direct to video sequel without Pixar’s help. An effort that surely would have been inferior, Pixar convinced Disney to let them produce the sequel instead and the rest is history.
9 Jessie was Almost Named Señorita Cactus
An addition to the Toy Story franchise that was very welcome by virtually every viewer, it is pretty hard to argue against the idea that the inclusion of Jessie has improved the films. After all, giving the series a female lead for viewers to invest in, especially young female fans of the franchise, was a move that made all the sense in the world.
Surprisingly something that came to be due to someone whose name does not appear in the credits of Toy Story 2, it was John Lasseter’s wife Nancy that convinced him to add Jessie.
That said, the original female lead considered for the film was named Señorita Cactus and she was going to “sway Woody with her feminine wiles.”
8 Toy Story 3 Writers Did Research By Watching Prison Movies
Something that was touched on during a previous entry on this list, during the production process of a Pixar film those involved end up doing a lot of research. Not only something that the animators do, Toy Story 3’s writers did homework in order to make a pivotal aspect of the film work.
A movie that features everyone’s favorite toys being held against their will in an unruly preschool play room, Woody, Buzz, and the gang must break free to make sure they don’t get broken.
Wanting to make the most of this sequence, the writers watched some of the best prison escape movies in order to be inspired by the cream of the crop.
7 Toy Story 2 Made Tom Hanks and Tim Allen Cry
Movies that easily could have featured surface-deep stories, instead, the Toy Story films ended up being far more emotional than most other family films. In fact, each movie in the series includes more than one moment that plucks at your heartstrings, but there is a single scene that may be the most heart wrenching of all. Essentially a music video of sorts, the sequence set to the Sarah McLachlan song “When Somebody Loves Me” effectively shows Jessie’s backstory and how her heart was broken when she was abandoned. A real tear jerker to say the least, not only were audiences stunned by this sequence, but Tim Allen and Tom Hanks both admitted to crying when they first saw this moment.
6 Tom Hanks Used Props During Vocal Recordings
Obviously a very different form of acting, when actors provide their voice for an animated movie, it is dissimilar to working on a live-action movie in a lot of ways. Working with the film’s director more than anyone else, it is a far cry from the dynamics that actors usually deal with on a movie set. On top of largely working almost alone, vocal performers don’t have to worry about things like wardrobe, makeup, or hitting their marks. However, in the case of the Toy Story films, producers gave their actors props to interact with and recorded their performances prior to animating the movie.
As a result, when Tom Hanks would improvise moments with a prop, like the time he acted out a scene with Buzz’s detached arm, they were able to recreate the moment in the film itself.
His awkwardness pretty much made that memorable scene.
5 Toy Story 2 Featured Scenes Pitched for the First Film
Always an exhausting process, working on an animated movie takes a number of years and during that time a lot of ideas are suggested that don’t end up being part of the final film. However, just because a sequence suggested for a film fails to appear in the final product doesn’t mean it will never be seen by the masses. Toy Story 2 featured more than one moment that writers had originally suggested for the first film in the series. In fact, two of the most memorable Toy Story 2 sequences, Woody’s playing card nightmare and the Buzz Lightyear cartoon, were originally suggested for that movie’s predecessor.
4 Joss Whedon Added One of the Series’ Best Lines
One of a select few behind the scenes players in the film world that has gone on to become famous, Joss Whedon has played a pivotal role in a long list of beloved projects. For instance, he was the co-creator and driving force behind Firefly and the Buffyverse TV shows and he also directed the first two Avengers movies. If all of that weren’t enough, and it certainly is, Whedon also is a prolific writer that has worked on a long list of TV shows and films, including Toy Story. Brought in to polish the script of that film, the level of influence he had over the movie is debatable.
On the other hand, it is certain that Whedon wrote one of Toy Story’s best lines of dialogue, "You're a sad, strange little man, and you have my pity."
That's pretty deep.
3 Hanks Recorded Dialogue During Breaks in Other Films
Always a prolific actor, throughout the '90s, Tom Hanks starred in fourteen different films and that doesn’t take into account his several forays into TV where he served as an actor, producer, writer, and director. As such, when he takes on a role, producers have to work around his very busy schedule. A project that did not require Hanks to appear on a film set or travel around the world, Hanks ended up voicing Woody during breaks in the filming of Sleepless in Seattle and A League of Their Own.
However, Hanks was only willing to voice Woody while working on certain films since he didn’t want to play a more comedic character while working on serious films like Philadelphia and Forrest Gump.
He had to somewhat stay in character.
2 Mattel Originally Wouldn’t Allow Barbie to Appear
An asset that toy companies need to be extremely careful with, when a powerful brand is created the powers that be need to do everything in their power to ensure it is not corrupted. For that reason, there are several examples of requests to feature a popular toy character in a film that were turned down for fear of the possible ramifications. An issue the people behind Toy Story had to grapple with,
when they approached Mattel and requested to feature Barbie in Toy Story, they were turned down which is why they created the character Bo Peep.
Eventually seeing the huge success that Toy Story became and how well made that movie was, Mattel allowed Barbie to appear in both of its sequels to date.
1 Sid Was Partially Based on two Toy Story Co-Writers
The sole Toy Story character that is portrayed as being bad, Andy’s neighbor Sid enjoys destroying toys and creating new patchwork ones. Obviously, someone that would be feared by toys, he really isn’t all that bad from his perspective since he thinks he is only messing up objects, not living beings. Still, the movie shows Sid in a very negative light, especially when he steals his sister’s toy and messes it up, which is something that many older brothers end up doing. With that in mind, it is surprising to learn that Sid is partially inspired by two Toy Story co-writers.
That is the case because Andrew Stanton revealed that the Combat Carl scene was based on something he did as a kid and his fellow co-writer Joe Ranft liked to take toys apart when he was a youngster.
That's a little worrisome.