Pixar Chief Addresses Big Buzz Lightyear Question Raised by Toy Story

Pixar chief creative officer Pete Docter addresses an unanswered question from Toy Story, where [...]

Pixar chief creative officer Pete Docter addresses an unanswered question from Toy Story, where delusional action figure Buzz Lightyear (voice of Tim Allen) goes rigid around people like the other toys — despite his belief that he's an actual Space Ranger. In the world of Toy Story, the living toys instinctively "play dead" and go limp when their kid enters the room. It's something a newly-activated Buzz shouldn't do because he falsely believes he's a spaceman crash-landed on a strange planet, rejecting Woody's (Tom Hanks) accusations that he's a "child's plaything."

"We went through a lot of discussion on Toy Story, the first one, about like, 'If Buzz doesn't know he's a toy, why does he go rigid when a kid walks in the room?'" Docter, a story co-writer and the supervising animator on Toy Story, told Huffington Post. "We had a lot of explanations and talk about that, too. And in the end, nobody cared."

Pixar planned to answer another question raised by his feature directorial debut, Monsters, Inc., anticipating some viewers might wonder what Boo's parents think when the little girl is away with professional scarers Sulley (John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal).

"This is one of these questions that we asked ourselves," Docter said. "And we went through a lot of different machinations of writing scenes. We didn't actually board any, but we felt like, 'OK, the audience doesn't need to know this because Sulley doesn't know. And we're with Sulley. So who cares?'"

He added, "Whatever her parents think, we're just going to ignore that. And it turned out pretty OK."

When it comes to questions audiences might have about the fantastical worlds of Pixar — populated by living toys, living cars, and living emotions — Docter believes some things are best left unanswered.

"I think the short answer is you just have to kind of try to guess where the audience is going to find importance or at least push their interest there," he said.

With Soul, directed by Docter as his follow-up to Inside Out, the veteran animator hopes viewers leave the film asking themselves the real questions. "I'd like to hope that the things that we're talking about in the film ― you know, what is going on in our lives? What's important? ― all of that will still be questions that we're asking."

See how Soul pays tribute to late Pixar animator Joe Ranft, who worked with Docter to create the original story for Toy Story.

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