Following a screening of Toy Story 4, we had a chance to sit down and chat with Director Josh Cooley with Producers Jonas Rivera and Mark Nielsen.
You can listen to the audio below:
So from the start, did you already decide that you wanted to tell the story of what happened to Bo Peep or is this something that came as you worked on it?
Josh Cooley: While we were finishing Toy Story 3, Andrew Stanton who is one of the writers of all the Toy Story films, was secretly writing the outline for Toy Story 4 and the thing that carried through to the very end was Bo Peep. It was always the return of Bo somehow she would come back into the picture.
To answer your question, Bo Peep from day one! Our code name for the movie was Peep.
One thing I really enjoyed about this movie, we’ve Woody as the leader of Andy’s room and him trying to do the same in Bonnie’s room. He isn’t the #1 toy and so we see a different side of him, so what made you want to focus on this story and what lead to it?
Josh Cooley: Woody’s been the protagonist of all these films and I will say early on when it was just finding out about where Bo Peep, we were just concentrating on them as a couple and it felt like this wasn’t a romantic comedy but it didn’t feel like Toy Story and it wasn’t until it was like let’s figure out Woody and seeing how Bo coming into the story would affect Woody.
Jonas Rivera: It was finding that, when we first started talking about this I think the baseline was we knew we couldn’t just tell another adventure, we didn’t want it to be like we forgot a part, it was Bo Peep that really unlocked that and pushed Woody to a new direction that we hadn’t seen. We’ve never seen Woody struggle, we’ve never seen Woody do this or that and that is kind of what drove the movie.
Let’s talk about sporks or in this case Forky. So, I loved him (Forky), when I first saw him in trailers he looked like a “very” interesting character, I didn’t know how I was going to react to him and not even that long into the movie I went I love this character and now I need Forky stuff, how did the idea of that character come to life?
Mark Nielsen: So the guys in the story room were just sitting around talking …we are always brainstorming backstory for these toys or what new toys we can put in this. There was a conversation about how kids play and the truth about how kids play, they will just pick something up and move it around so does that make it a toy because that kid is playing with it and the idea came up for something that wasn’t alive.
What would it be like if something came to life and what would the reaction be of the other characters seeing something come to life. They creativity of children and the observations we have of our own kids as they will create a toy out of just about anything. They’ll open the box at Christmas and play more with the box than they would with the present that was inside it, there was a truth there that we felt was worth exploring. There was an idea of what if it was a spork and everybody in the table starting drawing characters as sporks.
Josh Cooley: Just the crappiest drawings, you know a kid craft project coming to life. It was kind of writing itself in the sense in just an entertainment value. We’re cracking ourselves up and thought should we actually do this?
Who was your favorite character before TS4 and who is it after?
Josh Cooley: Mine has always been Woody and I think even more so now after this film.
Mark Nielsen: I love Slinky, he is such a great loyal friend but he’s also willing to put himself out there and throw himself out a window to help his friends. If he needs to, he has this super power in his slinky to go to great lengths in all the movies.
Jonas Rivera: I love Jessie. Jessie has always been my favorite, in this film I love how she is literally deputized to take the lead. She has always been a great mirror of Woody and I’ve always said that she is the first character to call him out on how privileged he is.
Do you feel with the world of Toy Story can evolve because of the ending or do you think it’s a great place to leave it off?
Josh Cooley: I think in terms of Woody’s story, it feels like a completion of his arc.
Mark Nielsen: We don’t know what the future holds but as were telling the story and figuring out what it would be, we really kind of thought of this as this awesome completion of Woody and Buzz’s story all the way through. Toy Story 3 was the end of his time with Andy but this really is the journey of Woody with buzz from beginning to end. I think we’d be happy if this was the last one, I feel we would be satisfied.
I want to give a big thank you to Josh Cooley, Jonas Rivera & Mark Nielsen for their time. You can also check watch our video as the voice actors talk about working on Toy Story 4.
Movie plot and details:
In Toy Story 4, Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang embark on a road trip with Bonnie and a new toy named Forky. The adventurous journey turns into an unexpected reunion as Woody’s slight detour leads him to his long-lost friend Bo Peep. As Woody and Bo discuss the old days, they soon start to realize that they’re worlds apart when it comes to what they want from life as a toy.
Release date: June 20, 2019 (USA)
Director: Josh Cooley
Screenplay: Rashida Jones, Andrew Stanton, Will McCormack, Stephany Folsom
Producers: Jonas Rivera, Mark Nielsen
Production companies: Pixar, Walt Disney Pictures