How Pixar Included the Late Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story 4

The idea of a Toy Story without Don Rickles’ Mr. Potato Head was one Pixar filmmakers “didn’t want to consider,” a Toy Story 4 producer said during a Pixar press day.

“We went back through all of the outtakes for all of the films, all the shorts, all the video games, all the ice-capades shows, every possible thing, and there was a lot of Don Rickles,” director Josh Cooley said. “So I wouldn’t say it was easy, but there was a lot to work with. So I’m very, very, very honored that he’s in this film.”

The legendary comedian was signed on to Toy Story 4 but had not performed work as Mr. Potato Head before his death in April 2017 at the age of 90. Rickles’ family and agent contacted Pixar in the hopes archival recordings could be used to give the sassy spud his voice one last time.

“It’s an honor to all of us,” producer Mark Nielson said. “He’s such a big part of these movies, and every time you see a Potato Head toy, you hear his voice in your head. So the idea of doing this without him was one we didn’t want to consider, and the editorial team did a great job.”

In 2015, Rickles reported he was to start work on Toy Story 4 in September of that year, telling Closer Weekly he was “very delighted with that.” But the project underwent significant changes and was pushed back twice.

“When [Toy Story director] John [Lasseter] approached me for the first one, I said, ‘I don’t do comedy with cartoons, dummies and toys. Leave me alone,’” Rickles told Closer Weekly. “And [John] said, ‘No, you’re gonna love this!’ Then he told me the money and how nice it was going to be and, I said, ‘Yeah, I can give it a try.’ All of a sudden it’s going on 17 years.”

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In a previous interview with Maxim, when asked if he’s a fan of the cherished franchise, Mr. Warmth quipped, “Well, sure. I busted my bird for 60 years in the business, but my grandkids only know me as Mr. Potato Head.”

Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Joan Cusack, Tony Hale, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, and Don Rickles, Toy Story 4 opens June 21.