Fred Willard is The First Live Action Pixar Character

Fred Willard in WALL-E

At Comic Con this year, WALL-E director Andrew Stanton confirmed that there would in fact be a live action element in the upcoming Pixar film.

“We’re not doing anything like Happy Feet,” said Stanton. “There is a live action element involved but that’s the most I can say.”

And that is a good thing because I thought the live-action integration in Happy Feet was very off putting. Last month actor Jeff Garlin added that he is the “only animated character that speaks” in the film. Garlin plays the Captain of a starliner ship, which most of humanity (now couch potatoes) call home.

“A lot of the film is silent and they’re robots so they make noises and such and there’s sound but I’m one of the only characters that speak – not one of them – I am the only animated character that speaks,” Garlin said. “There’s another character but I can’t talk about it. But I’m the only animated character that speaks.”

The film follows a small Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class robot (or WALL-E for short)’s fantastic journey across a universe of never-before-imagined visions of the future. We’ve wondered for a while now who this other character was and if he was the live action element of WALL-E. And thanks to Rotten Tomatoes, we now have the answer:

The Live Action Element of WALL-E is… Fred Willard. You know, the guy from the Christopher Guest mockumentaries. Apparently Willard plays Shelby Forthright, the CEO of the Buy N Large corporation.

“[Buy N Large] practically owns everything in the world. It’s kind of a take off on Wal Mart.”

You can actually visit the official website for the fictional corporation at buynlarge.com. So how will a live-action Fred Willard look in the computer animated world of Pixar? Well…

“I appear on a TV monitor but I’m more than a voice. Jeff Garlin is a voice but people are saying, ‘Oh, you’re a voice.’ No, I actually appear. People will say, ‘Oh, that’s Fred Willard.’”

Having the live-action human character on a monitor might be a lot less jarring than seeing a human interact with with the Pixar animated characters. Willard has already recorded his footage for the film, which hits theaters in June 2008.

Photo credits: Futuristic TV, Spaceship Hallway

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