Disney and Pixar’s Lightyear director Angus MacLane recently implied that long-time Buzz Lightyear voice actor Tim Allen was never considered to voice the character in the upcoming Lightyear film.
Speaking with Fandango, MacLane revealed that Chris Evans was the first choice for the role of Buzz Lightyear from the get go, which was over five-and-a-half-years-ago.
MacLane first revealed the film’s development began after Finding Dory, when Fandango asked, “When did Lightyear development start at Pixar?”
The director answered, ” It was after after Finding Dory. I’d always been attached to Buzz since I started at the studio. I always really like animating that character. And as a huge sci-fi movie buff, I’d always wondered what is the sci-fi action-adventure version of Buzz Lightyear that would be fun and be appropriate for the character, but also be brought into three dimensions, character-wise?”
He answered his own question stating, “A straightforward sci-fi action-adventure movie that was what we all liked as kids, and still like.”
Fandango would also ask MacLane, “When did you know you were going to be directing this film?”
He responded, “I knew when they agreed that they wanted to do this pitch. So five-and-a-half-years-ago. It’s not a big deal to keep it quiet, because we’re so trained to not say anything.”
As for the implication that they never even considered Tim Allen, MacLane was asked, “When did Chris Evans come on board?”
MacLane stated, “Really early on. He was the first choice, pretty much as soon as we knew we were going do it. And he came up, drove up to Pixar. And we hung out for a day and pitched him the movie. And he was thrilled. He really was. He totally got what we were going for. ”
“He’s been such a part of the process of honing that voice and recognizing the reverence to what it could be, and what the character should be, and taking that seriously, and finding the comedy in the character of it, and not in mockery,” he continued.
MacLane then noted, “But because of his gravitas and star power, because of who he is as a performer, he knows how to carry that straight-laced classic movie hero. But at the same time, he’ll know how to subvert it and make fun of it at the same time, in a very knowing way. It’s not a subtraction for the character.”
He further elaborated on working with Evans, “It’s been such a wonderful experience. He’s such a joy. And he’s an animation fan. He at one time considered being an animator, so he was really interested in the process. You don’t always get that.”
“It really helped to show him the sequence in storyboards, and he’d say, “I got it.” He could just do it. Especially action scenes. He’s so good,” MacLane gushed.
He concluded, “I can’t say enough great things about Chris Evans. I’m so glad he said yes.”
MacLane would also discuss what the film hopes to capture when it comes to Buzz’s character. He explained, ” There’s a core idea about Buzz that we noticed when we really drilled down looking at all of the Toy Story movies: That Buzz has a disagreement over the nature of reality.”
“In the first Toy Story, he believes he’s a space ranger when Woody says he’s a toy. In the second movie, they had to bring in another Buzz Lightyear to kick jumpstart that again. And he had to convince his other self that HE was a toy. And there’s Spanish Buzz in [Toy Story 3], and then the inner monologue in [Toy Story 4]. That was a bedrock for something we knew we needed to pay off,” he elaborated.
MacLane added, “Buzz is somebody who takes his job very seriously, and is very much a rule follower. And has a steadfast belief in himself.”
“There’s these tropes of that kind of hero that we’re recognizing, feeding on, and playing with. But he’s such an amalgam of weird sci-fi cliches. How do you make that more than a punchline? That was really the charge of [the] film,” he stated.
As for the movie as a whole, MacLane says, “Lightyear really is a story that’s very personal. It’s meant to be, more than anything, a really fun movie in the way that I work in movies because I like movies. I like watching movies. And I really want it to be something that’s enjoyable and fun, and it would just stay with you, and it would just be something you would go and see again.”
“That sense in movies like when we were kids. Lightyear is a love letter to the process, and a love letter to movies,” he asserted.
The official synopsis for the film states, “The sci-fi action-adventure presents the definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear—the hero who inspired the toy—introducing the legendary Space Ranger who would win generations of fans.”
Pixar boss Pete Doctor provided more details when the film was first announced during the Disney Investor Day 2020 in December. He said, ““At first glance you might think this is a Toy Story film. Well, not so fast. See, back when we created the first Toy Story, we designed Buzz Lightyear with the idea that he was a toy based on some really cool character from an epic blockbuster film. Well, all these years later we decided it’s time to make that film.”
Doctor added, “Lightyear is the definitive origin story of the original Buzz Lightyear. And it reveals how this young test pilot became the Space Ranger we all know him to be today.”
Lightyear is currently scheduled to be released on June 17, 2022.
What do you make of the fact that Evans was the studio’s first choice to voice Buzz Lightyear and that they seemingly never considered Tim Allen for the role?