Recording Woody's Toy Story Lines Leaves Tom Hanks In Pretty Rough Shape

In the upper echelon of animated feature films, "Toy Story" sits firmly among the best that the genre (and Pixar) has to offer. With a star-studded cast behind the voices of our favorite toys, the rag-tag group of characters have become a staple in pop culture in and outside the medium itself. Tom Hanks, in particular,can be considered one of the defining voices behind the franchise as the cowboy sheriff Woody. His character's frenetic, often-tense personality makes Woody stand out in a sea of lovable toys. Though it comes off as effortless, Hanks is pushed to his vocal limits while portraying the always-worried nature of the character.

In every installment of the "Toy Story" saga, Woody faces a never-ending existential crisis that constantly puts him on edge. His inherently worrisome nature is amplified by Hanks' mannerisms and distinct voice manipulation. The portrayal contributes to a lot of the hilarity that ensues throughout the films, but it's no easy task for the man behind the toy.

Stretching the vocal cords

Speaking to BBC Radio 1, Hanks detailed his strenuous experience voicing the beloved character:

"Well, I have never gone into a recording studio for Woody without wishing it was already over. Because he is clenched, he is a clenched person, and everything he's going through is the crisis of his moment. And to stand, and not being really able to move, because you can't go off microphone, and embody this — I mean, I'm getting clenched just thinking about it now. I have driven home after a four or five, sometimes six-hour recording session, and my diaphragm, just, it hurts, it aches."

The not-so-fun fact Hanks shares is not the end of the world by any means, especially since he's paid quite handsomely for his pain, but it goes to show how much effort the decorated actor delivers, no matter the project. Even when Pixar extended the trilogy with a fourth film, Hanks committed to the role just as much as the previous entries. The exhausting nature of the animated character is never enough to deter him from nailing it time and time again.

With two Academy Awards under his belt for live-action performances, Hanks' time as Woody may not immediately be regarded as the most impressive feat of his career. However, it may just be the one that outlasts almost everything he has ever done.

Why it's all worth it

The legacy of "Toy Story" is no doubt linked to the audience that grew up watching it since the first film. Since its inception, the animated saga has not only a direct reflection of the relatable emotional connection a child has with their toy, but the characters themselves have become tethered to longtime fans like me. Hanks has grown to recognize this, telling the New York Times about his own daughter's reaction to seeing his character during a parade at Disneyland:

"We were at Disneyland with the kids. You know they're always having parades and things like that, and there was a thing, an absolute extravaganza, and Woody is a part of it. We were there watching it and my daughter — who's in her 30s, by the way — the first time we saw it, she burst into tears. And I said, 'It was kind of great, wasn't it?' But she pointed out to me that Woody will be part of that for the rest of time, the same way Mickey is. And in no small way, I am Woody."

"Toy Story" and its ever-so-anxious Woody are destined to live on in the hearts of its fans, thanks in no small part to a consistently stellar vocal performance (and much more) from Hanks. Even if it harmed his diaphragm, at least Hanks knows that the pure joy his character has brought (and will bring) to generations of kids and parents.