Toy Story 3 - Voices by Joan Cusack, Tim Allen and Tom Hanks
Jessie (voiced by Joan Cusack), Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen), Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) © Disney/Pixar

After eleven years, the third and final Toy Story movie is about to hit the big screen. Time has moved on in the narrative as well, and Andy is about to leave for college and is packing up his favorite toys to be stored in the attic.

Due to a mishap his mother thinks they are to be thrown out, and she gives them to Sunnyside Daycare Center, where a group of out-of-control children practically destroy them. Can Woody (Tom Hanks) save Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack) and all the other toys from this purgatory so that they can return to Andy?

Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Joan Cusack talk about their love for this franchise and the brilliant company that produced it – Pixar

What characteristic of Woody to you enjoy most?

Tom Hanks voices Woody © Disney/Pixar

Tom Hanks: Woody is a passionate guy who throws himself into every action. As soon as he has an instinctive thought, like, ‘I have to help them,’ he does it with 100-percent commitment. You gotta love that about anybody.

I also love the way the relationship between Woody and Buzz has grown. They started off as pure adversaries and leaned how to accept each other’s strengths, forgive each other’s failures, and respect each other as individuals. Opposites definitely attract in this case.

What kind of trials to the toys have to face in this movie?

Tim Allen: The toys are quickly thrown away by mistake and they get to Sunnyside which is a daycare center and it looks like it’s a great thing, it looks like heaven for these guys, but they’re not age appropriate toys for the kids they’re with. Which is a good lesson, if you’ve got children there are certain toys that kids shouldn’t play with, and they are with a group of kids that don’t know how to respect toys and they break them and it becomes absolute purgatory for these toys.

What do you admire about Jessie?

Joan Cusack voices Jessie © Disney/Pixar

Joan Cusack: Jessie is such a good role model. She believes that children are important and approaches them with pride and passion. And she believes girls can do anything, which of course she is right. She has exuberance for life and has a can-do attitude. She is also not afraid of feeling things and learning from her feelings. Jessie is pretty cool.

It looks like Pixar has pulled off another stunning success with Toy Story 3.

Tom Hanks: These Pixar people continuously amaze me, because they come up with something that actually looks like it happens in this happy real world place. Every plot line is very, very plausible, it’s written with characters of great human dimension that are funny, and it’s (full) of adventure and jeopardy, humor and love,

That fact that Pixar can come up with a third Toy Story movie and have it be completely fresh, real and unique, shows just how brilliant they are. With Toy Story 3, you come back to a lovely, familiar and happy place.

What’s great is that I get credit for the way the character and the humor comes off. I have kids that are now in college come up to me and say, ‘When you told that neighbor kid to play nice, that really meant a lot to me.’

Tim Allen voices Buzz Lightyear © Disney/Pixar

Tim Allen: Toy Story 3 is a remarkable achievement. Even though I knew the story and had read the ending, it grabbed me in the best possible way. I know the audiences are going to have the same reaction. Pixar just keeps getting better and better.

This is a very simple story about friendships and staying together. I loved that the ending is really a new beginning. You realize that one door shuts and another one opens. It’s very, very emotional.

How much do you adlib when you’re voicing Jessie?

Joan Cusack: You kind of feel like if they’re hiring you, you should give them your instincts and then they can do whatever they want with them. You do what they’re saying, and then if you think of anything it’s nice to throw it out there. You never know what the whole picture is.

Why should people come and see Toy Story 3?

Tom Hanks: Toy Story 3 is a big, massive adventure that has you constantly on the edge of your seat. It’s part The Great Escape, with the same kind of excitement as Dorothy escaping for the Wicked Witch of the West. And yet they take those elements and turn them into something that is very emotional.

We’re talking about toy dinosaurs and Mr. Potato Head, and yet you feel for them and you don’t want them to get recycled or stuck with the bratty kids; you want them to be together and played with at the end of the movie. You’re worried for their essence.

The filmmakers Pixar always manage to get you right in the heart. The story is as simple as growing up and having a guy go off to college, but it is so profoundly emotional that you can’t help but have tears in your eyes.

What is working at Pixar like?

Joan Cusack: They have a good process that a lot of other places could model maybe to make better movies, which is to be thoughtful and care about what you’re doing, to take your time and employ people and then trust them.

I think they took a risk with this movie, because they really made it be about something. But they have the thoughtfulness to back it up, because they really took their time to think, ‘Let’s really make it be a meaningful movie.’

What has been the most special aspect of working on the Toy Story movies for you?

Tim Allen: The great thing for me about working on the Toy Story films is the great friendships I’ve made with all the people at Pixar and with Tom Hanks. Tom and I really like working together and being around each other. I totally respect his talent and I think he feels the same way about me.

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter. More by Judy Sloane