ORLANDO, Fla. — Tim Allen warned Tom Hanks to prepare himself for the emotional ending of Toy Story 4 .
“Tim had texted me, ‘Hold onto yourself … you’re not going to believe it. I’m still recovering,’ ” Hanks admitted during a press conference for the upcoming Disney/Pixar sequel.
But when it came time for him to read the final lines, he found himself reciting the script with his back turned to director Josh Cooley and others in the room.
“Usually you have the mic stand facing the front, so knowing that we were going to be in this territory I asked if we could turn it around so my back was to everyone. I didn’t want to have any self-consciousness for what I knew was going to be the last few hours I was going to be spending on the movie.”
When it ended, Hanks said he was overwhelmed with emotion.
“As it came to pass, I felt I was on the other side of a river waving to everybody I had left back in the old country. It was pretty profound. There’s so much muscle memory that goes into it. You drive onto the lot, you park in the same spot, you go through the same doors and when I drove back out I thought, ‘I’ve recorded the last words for the current Toy Story .’ ”
In Toy Story 4 , which hits theatres on Thursday, Hanks’ character Sheriff Woody finds himself mentoring a new handcrafted toy named Forky (voiced by Veep’s Tony Hale), and ends up being reunited with Bo Peep (Annie Potts).
With the help of Buzz (Allen) and Jessie (Joan Cusack), Woody, who has always been loyal to his kid — whether that’s Andy or Bonnie — finds a new place in the world.
Hanks, now 62, has won two Oscars, for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump , and has starred in some of cinema’s most iconic movies, including Cast Away , Apollo 13 , Saving Private Ryan , Big , Sully and dozens more. Still, it’s Toy Story , and voicing the animated cowboy, that’s been a role he’s relished revisiting over the past 24 years.
“I think I’ve said these three words on the Toy Story movies more than anything else in my life. I’ve said, ‘C’mon guys’ about eight billion times … Woody has been a great gift that I’ve seen play out in my own family as well as around the world,” Hanks said. “What I have truly appreciated is, no matter how old you are now, when you see one of the movies you’re the same age you were when you saw the first one. There’s not a bump, not a jolt, nothing ages poorly, it’s exactly as it was and it always will be.
“In some ways, it’s like the definitive Disney enterprise. There’s a cohesiveness and eternal quality to not just the stories and the characters, but the emotional bonds we all had with each one of them.”
When the Sun asked Hanks about the initial pitch for the first film, he said there was something “ridiculously exciting” about it.
“(The animators) took a line from, believe it or not, Turner & Hooch . They animated Woody saying, ‘You’re eating the car! Don’t eat the car! Not the car!’ and I just looked at it, and it was just the figure on a blue background, and first I thought, ‘How did they do that?’ … But upon seeing it, when it was all done, there was no doubt that something had been created here that was much bigger or grander than anyone could have anticipated.”
Hanks added, “It was just special, and that doesn’t happen very much.”
In a separate press conference, Allen likened his part as Buzz to his long-running role on TV’s Home Improvement .
“I never thought about the future, I just thought, ‘Can I get through this?’ ” Allen told the Sun. “I had no idea what the results would be … But doing the first one, I just hoped everyone liked it. No. 2 was an amazing occurrence and then … when I saw Buzz and Woody on (a toy) at McDonald’s, we hit a high mark. We had become an icon.”
Hanks sidestepped the question of doing a fifth instalment, but left the door open a crack for more, saying, “I have always been dazzled when the (people at Pixar) come back and say, ‘We’re going to try and make another one.’ And it’s always the same. ‘Well, aren’t you guys bold. You think you can match the last one? Good luck.’ ”
Still, even if Woody and Buzz never return, he’s comforted knowing that these characters will live forever.
“I don’t know if any of you have been to Disneyland , but they have the (Fantasmic! River Show) and at the closing of the show the Mark Twain steamboat comes by and all the Disney characters are dancing on the steamboat … I was there with my family, and my daughter — who’s in her 30s — burst into tears and I asked her what was wrong and she said, ‘Look dad at the end of the boat’ and it was Woody and Buzz and she said, ‘You will always be on that boat dancing for the rest of time.’
“That’s more than just a cool thing, it’s some sort of talisman that we’ll always carry with us because we were all smart enough to say, ‘How do you think we should do this: ‘C’mon guys.’ ”
Toy Story 4 opens Thursday.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019