Toy Story 4 is going to happen, but it will have one significant change brought on this week by the death of Don Rickles.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the legendary insult comic had not recorded his part of Mr. Potato Head, which featured prominently in the first three Toy Story films.
After 20 years and a trilogy of films — not to mention a box office gross for the franchise north of $2 billion per Box Office Mojo — Rickles was supposed to reprise his role in the flagship Pixar Animation series.
— ComicBook NOW! (@ComicBookNOW) April 9, 2017
Unfortunately, the same rep that confirmed Rickles’ death at 90 also confirmed to THR that the voice-work had not yet been shot, leaving the studio with two options: recast the part or try to pull something similar to what Rogue One: A Star Wars Story did with the late Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher.
In many ways, “replacing” Don Rickles will be easier than the latter examples. Cushing had been dead several years when his villainous character from the 1977 original Star Wars was resurrected in a primary role for Rogue One.
Disney used another actor and replaced his likeness with CGI versions of Cushing. While Fisher was alive at the time of the latest Star Wars film, she received similar CGI treatment to present her character in a younger light.
With Toy Story 4, Pixar can either look for a similarly-voiced actor, or they could try cobbling together bits of Rickles’ previous work to see if they can create a new performance from what they have in the vault.
There is also the possibility of a hybrid performance where the studio uses as much of Rickles’ old work as possible and supplements it with an actor. Doing so would come the closest to what Disney accomplished with Rogue One.
What is not known at this time — and this is something THR points out in their own report — is how big of a role Mr. Potato Head was set to have in Toy Story 4.
No one has gotten a close look at the script just yet, so all of this talk of recreation could be a moot point if Pixar knowingly moved the story away from the character on account of Rickles being well along in years.
Following Rickles’ death this week, his former and planned future colleagues remembered him as a “god.”
John Lasseter, director of the original Toy Story and co-director of the upcoming Toy Story 4, said the “wit, personality, and incredible timing [Rickles] brought to Mr. Potato Head lit up the character and made him an essential part of the Toy Story ensemble.”
“Even though Mr. Potato Head’s facial features fell off in every Toy Story movie, his heart never left him — that was because of Don,” Lasseter said.
Woody, voiced by Tom Hanks, had this to say on Twitter.
“A God died today. Don Rickles, we did not want to ever lose you.”
Tim Allen (aka Buzz Lightyear) credited Rickles as being “one of the biggest reasons I am a comic today.”
— Syndrome208 (@syndrome208) April 8, 2017
“I feel bad, mostly for everyone in Heaven who will now learn first hand from the sharpest wits ever, what it’s like to be Rickled,” Allen added in reference to the funnyman’s biting brand of comedy.
What do you think Pixar should do about replacing Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story 4: go ahead or leave it alone? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Disney]