As the first feature-length computer animated film ever, "Toy Story" set a precedent for innovation and catapulted Pixar Animation Studios into the forefront of animation. It's now considered a classic, but back in 1995, Walt Disney Studios took a huge risk on a guy named John Lasseter and his "little" movie about talking toys who came to life when you weren't looking.
But can you imagine a mean, sarcastic Woody? How about Buzz Lightyear without his now-iconic purple and lime spacesuit? It could have happened!
To celebrate the movie turning the big 2-0 this November, MTV News is taking a look back at the seminal Pixar movie and unearthing 21 facts about "Toy Story" that will surely take you to infinity and beyond:
Tom Hanks' brother Jim voices Woody when he's too busy.Disney-Pixar
During a 2011 interview on "The Graham Norton Show," the host confronted Hanks with a Woody doll and asked if it was actually his voice coming out of the doll.
"No, it’s my brother Jim," Hanks said. "There are so many computer games and video things, and Jim just works on those all year long."
In other words, our collective childhood is a LIE.
Without "Nightmare Before Christmas," there would be no "Toy Story."Disney
We can all thank Jack Skellington (OK, and Zero too) for Disney’s willingness to give "Toy Story" a shot. Prior to Tim Burton's "Nightmare Before Christmas," no animated film bearing the Disney name had ever made outside of Disney Studios. But Burton’s madcap stop-motion feature opened the studio's minds to the possibilities of collaboration. "Because of 'Nightmare Before Christmas,' 'Toy Story' happened," Lasseter said during the "Toy Story" 20th anniversary panel at D23 in August. (Fun fact: Lasseter and Burton were classmates at CalArts.)
Pixar didn't want to make a fairytale.
At the time, Disney Animation Studios was in the middle of its creative renaissance. Films like "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty And The Beast" and "Aladdin" were capturing the imaginations of audiences around the world -- and they were making serious bank for the House of Mouse. But in the era of Disney Princesses, Pixar dared to be different.
"We came up with a list of what we wanted our film not to be," Lasseter said at the anniversary panel. "We didn’t want it to be a fairytale. We didn’t want a film where the bad guy grows bigger in the third act."
Lasseter and co. were also tired of boring protagonists, citing "Aladdin" as a specific example of a great movie with a protagonist that is almost too perfect. "Why do they name these movies after the most boring characters in the film?" Andrew Stanton, the mastermind behind "Finding Nemo," said.
Pixar, however, wanted protagonists with flaws because that was the only way to make them interesting. "Having our main characters be the most entertaining characters in the film" was a top priority for the team.
Disney also wanted more human characters.
According to Craig Good, a supervising layout artist on "Toy Story," Walt Disney Studios had a few "professional writers" take a crack at the script. But they ended up adding more human characters, mainly kids, and never quite "got the fact that the movie was about the toys." This problem was later fixed when a bright kid named Joss Whedon came onboard to help with the script.
Pixar tentatively titled the film "You Are A Toy."
Now that's just silly. "Toy Story" was obviously the better fit.
Woody used to be a huge jerk.Pixar
This may sound crazy, but the lovable protagonist of "Toy Story" was originally a total effing jerk. In early storyboards, Woody was relentlessly cruel to the other toys.
"We were trying to do something different and edgy, and different than any animated film,” Pixar producer Darla K. Anderson said at D23 2015. "We were trying to find a character with an edge... We took it way too far."
Luckily for Lasseter and the rest of the Pixar creative team, "It doesn’t take much to shift the energy of a character." After a few tweaks to Woody’s character to make him less of a meanie and more of a strong leader, he was a whole lot more endearing -- and most importantly, an incredible friend.
It's hard to imagine where Pixar would be now if Woody had been such an unbearably sarcastic jerk. "I really don’t know if our studio would have survived," Coleman said.
Buzz Lightyear was originally named Tempest.
Buzz was originally named Tempest, after the animators' obsession with the Atari game Tempest, and he was only six inches high. Other possible names? "Morph and Star Command," Lasseter recalled at D23. But there is one thing that was always part of the mix: his signature saying.
"To infinity and beyond" -- an now-iconic line from the franchise -- was part of the short pitch video that they made for Disney Studios in the early '90s.
Oh, and his iconic spacesuit was originally red.Pixar
In early storyboards for the animated feature -- back when Buzz was a wee, 6-inch toy instead of his normal 12 -- his suit was red. After deciding to model it after real spacesuits, the team decided on white with lime green and purple accents. Why those colors? "Lime green is my favorite color and purple is my wife Nancy’s favorite color," Lasseter said. "Just like she and I, they go really well together."
Meanwhile, Woody was originally a large ventriloquist dummy
Several notes from Disney criticized Woody for being too creepy, so Lasseter eventually decided to make Woody a pull-string toy (inspired for his own love of one as a child) instead of a dummy. In the end, Buzz was scaled to 12 inches and Woody to 15 inches.
The animators actually turned themselves into toy soldiers for a day.
It's not uncommon for animators to play with their subjects. After all, if you're going to spend hundreds of hours animating a sequence, you need to know exactly how they move. For the Pixar animators, their first undertaking was understanding how a toy soldier would move if it suddenly came to life.
In order to better study the toy soldiers' movements, animator Pete Docter decided to nail his own sneakers to a wooden board. He unfortunately nailed them from the bottom on his first attempt, but once he got it down, Docter later made these prototypes for the entire team and they spent an entire day moving around with their shoes nailed to wooden planks. Docter also sewed together his own Woody doll during the production.
Pixar easter eggs were all over the place on Andy's bookshelf.
Many of the books on the shelf in Andy's room are names of Pixar's short films -- for example, "Tin Toy" was the short that inspired "Toy Story" -- and most of the authors are named after Pixar staff.
There's a Tool Time connection.
The toolbox on top of the milk crate that Woody is trapped in is a Binford, the same type of tool that Allen used on his hit television show "Home Improvement."
Billy Crystal was the first choice to voice Buzz Lightyear.Getty Images
Crystal was originally asked to voice Buzz Lightyear in "Toy Story," but the actor declined. "It's the only regret I have in the business of something I passed on," he later told ABC News.
"Only Woody had a name then," he said. "It was at [former Disney executive] Jeffrey Katzenberg's house, and he showed me a pencil test of Buzz singing 'You've Never Had a Friend Like Me.' He said, 'Look at this different form of animation.' But also, it was a big business dispute," he added.
Joss Whedon wrote the most memorable line from the film.
After reading a early draft of Whedon’s "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" movie that never was, Lasseter was so impressed that he brought the young writer into the writers’ room to help with the script.
Whedon eventually came up with one of Lasseter’s favorite lines in any Pixar movie: "You're a sad, strange little man, and you have my pity."
And he also created Rex.
We can all thank Whedon for the creation of everyone's favorite neurotic dinosaur Rex. Because OF COURSE Whedon would create Rex.
Buzz was originally very ~meta~.
After Tim Allen had recorded all of his dialogue, it became very clear that the it didn't quite match who Buzz was, initially. This was especially hard for Docter, who voiced Buzz for all of the early treatments.
"Originally, we thought Buzz was aware of the TV show from which he came from -- it was very meta," he said. But once they listened to Allen’s take, they rewrote Buzz’s dialogue and instead, made it so that Buzz didn't know he was a toy from a TV show, and therefore, his identity issues became the film's running bit.
Some of Woody's most memorable lines were improvised by Hanks. (Tom, not Jim.)
"In the process of making an animated film, we always record the dialogue before we do the animation so the animators can be inspired by the actor’s movements," Lasseter told the crowd at D23 2015. And boy, were they inspired by Hanks. So inspired, in fact, that they're still using Hanks’ original outtakes in "Toy Story" films because he "gave them so much."
According to Lee Unkrich, who served as the film's editor, bits of Woody’s dialogue in "Toy Story 2," "Toy Story 3" and the upcoming "Toy Story 4" were recorded by Hanks in 1994.
Hanks was also a master improver with props. "We found out that if we gave him props, he would just come up with ideas," Lasseter said. One prop -- a fake severed arm that Lasseter borrowed from his kids -- led to the sequence where Woody plays with Buzz’s detached arm in the window, like a shadow puppet.
"All of that dialogue was Tom Hanks ad libbing," Lasseter said. (The more you know!)
Why isn't Andy's dad around?Pixar
Per Unkrich, Andy's dad has "never been relevant to the story." "The decision was made really early on in 'Toy Story' to have Andy's dad not be around," he told MSN Movies back in 2010. "We've never addressed it directly, nor have we given any explanation for where he is or why he's absent."
However, Good offered another explanation. "The real answer is that we couldn't afford a dad," he wrote in response to the question on Quora. "Human characters were just hideously expensive and difficult to do in those days and, as Lee mentioned, Andy's dad wasn't necessary for the story."
The movie saved Etch A Sketch.
Ohio Art Company, the company that makes Etch A Sketch, was nearly bankrupt before "Toy Story." After they allowed Etch to be in the film, they saw a 20-percent sales increase that saved the company.
Disney really wanted it to be a musical.
When Disney met with Lasseter and co. well into production on "Toy Story," they brought along a few (read: "about six or seven") songs for the film.
When Lasseter broke the news to the poor guy that "Toy Story" wasn’t going to be a musical, "his face went completely white. I think he thought he was going to be fired," Lasseter recalled.
Of course, "Toy Story" did need a song, and Lasseter and his team knew from the start that there was only one guy suitable for the job: Randy Newman.
"There was so much sincerity in his insincere delivery -- and that was what 'Toy Story' was all about," said Stanton. And just like that, "You've Got A Friend" in me was born.
It was the highest grossing film of 1995.Pixar
It grossed over $191 million at the box office, making it the highest grossing film of the year. Big mistake, Billy Crystal. BIG MISTAKE.