Andrew Stanton Had To Fight For Buzz To Go Into Spanish Mode In Toy Story 3 [Comic-Con]

The "Toy Story" franchise is known for its Randy Newman theme song, "You've Got a Friend in Me," but apparently, the Spanish Buzz Lightyear who appears in "Toy Story 3" did not have a friend in everyone as the movie was being made. Lucky for him, he had Andrew Stanton in his corner.

As a director, Stanton's Pixar pedigree speaks for itself: He helmed "Finding Nemo," "WALL-E," and "Finding Dory." In addition, he co-wrote the screenplay for three of the four "Toy Story" films, with "Toy Story 3" being the one outlier where he received a "story by" co-credit — not to mention a shared Academy Award nomination — while Michael Arndt penned the actual script. 

At San Diego Comic-Con 2022, Stanton appeared with directors Tim Miller ("Deadpool") and Chad Stahelski ("John Wick") in Collider's Directors on Directing Panel. /Film's own Jacob Hall was in attendance at the panel, moderated by Steven Weintraub, who asked the directors to name something they had to fight for that they were most proud of in one of their films. Stanton immediately piped up to say, "Buzz going into Spanish mode for 'Toy Story 3.' I won that argument."

The plot development to which Stanton is referring comes after Buzz, voiced by Tim Allen, is restored to his factory settings by the evil Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear (Ned Beatty) and his action figure enforcers. This leaves Buzz in demo mode, thinking he's a real Space Ranger, until his old dino pal Rex (Wallace Shawn) accidentally triggers his Spanish setting. Stanton didn't specify who was on the other end of the creative dispute over the plot point, but he wasn't the only director on the panel who encountered resistance to the idea of a character speaking Spanish in a tentpole film.

The voice of Spanish Buzz

Tim Miller chimed in with his own story about some proposed Spanish dialogue for "Terminator: Dark Fate" meeting with opposition despite the film being partially set in Mexico. While purely anecdotal, the two stories make it seem like there is still some lingering studio hesitation over Hollywood blockbusters including non-English dialogue.

Steven Spielberg was able to have characters speak Spanish — without subtitles — in "West Side Story," and it picked up multiple Oscar nominations and widespread acclaim from critics and audiences alike. That, coupled with the recent success of non-English and multilingual films such as "RRR" and "Everything Everywhere All at Once," only makes these kinds of language concerns look all the more unfounded.

This summer, Buzz Lightyear received his own spinoff movie, with Chris Evans voicing the fictional astronaut who inspired the toy. Andrew Stanton's Comic-Con anecdote about fighting for Spanish Buzz in "Toy Story 3" just serves as a reminder that "Lightyear" isn't the first time we've heard a different actor than Tim Allen playing everyone's favorite Space Ranger.

Back in 2010 when "Toy Story 3" was released, SFGATE profiled actor Javier Fernández-Peña, who did the voice work for Buzz during his Spanish-speaking parts. Fernández-Peña engineered his performance by studying Allen's voice in English and then studying Buzz's movements without sound. The London-based actor turned his nickname, the Voice of Spain, into the name of his company, but it also served as a nice calling card for the makers of "Toy Story 3" when they were looking for someone to help Buzz break out into Spanish.

Just think: If it weren't for Spanish Buzz, we might not have the peppy Spanish version of "You've Got a Friend in Me" by the Gipsy Kings, either, and that would be a travesty.