Bo Peep in Toy Story 4

Perhaps the most exciting character in Toy Story 4 isn’t a new toy, but one we’ve already met before (and technically not a toy): Bo Peep. Introduced way back in the first Toy Story movie and voiced by Annie Potts, Bo is a porcelain doll attached to a lamp with three sheep. She’s friendly, flirtatious, compassionate, and smart, and she had such a special connection with Woody. We haven’t seen Bo since Toy Story 2, and neither have her old pals Woody and Buzz. But Bo comes back in a big way in Toy Story 4 with a new life and a whole new attitude (and wardrobe).

During a recent visit to the Pixar campus, we learned a lot about Bo’s evolution and the pivotal role she plays in Woody’s journey.

How Bo Meets Woody (Again)

We watched a scene from Toy Story 4 in which Woody and Bo are reunited at a playground. Bo has become a lost toy, and while that’s every other toy’s worst nightmare, it’s actually been a pretty great life for Bo – and her sheep, of course. Her old chemistry with Woody is back and better than ever, and while Woody has remained mostly the same, Bo has certainly changed. She has a new look (which will draw inevitable comparisons to Daisy Ridley’s Rey in Star Wars) and a scrappier attitude; she’s become a survivor, ready and able to adapt to various situations on the spot. Story supervisor Valerie LaPoint describes Bo as a sort of “Robin Hood-type character,” so it didn’t take long for Bo to assemble a rag-tag group of lost toys. She’s much tougher than when we last saw her, but Bo still has a tender side: She drives around in a modified tanker that carries supplies to help mend other lost toys.

Bo has tons of new friends and allies, including the Polly Pocket-esque Giggle McDimples (Cloak & Dagger’s Ally Maki), and a Canadian daredevil toy named Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves) – we meet him and several other new pals in a scene set in a toy speakeasy, inside a pinball machine. It’s clear that Bo has maintained the role of leader among the lost and forgotten toys, who probably need her guidance and wisdom more than kept toys do.

Bringing Bo Back

To really drive the contrast between old Bo and new Bo home, the Toy Story 4 team felt it was important to take viewers back in time. In the opening scene of the movie, we watch Bo and Woody team up to help rescue RC, who was accidentally forgotten out in the rain. We see how well Bo and Woody work together, and how different Bo looked back when she was just part of a lamp. The toys rescue RC, of course, but their celebration is cut short when a friend of Andy’s family stops by to pick up Bo Peep; she’s going to a new baby. A heartbroken Woody heads out into the rain to say goodbye to Bo, who’s actually at peace with the situation. We get the sense that Bo is accustomed to being moved around more frequently than the other toys, which is why she’s adapted so well to her new life when she’s finally reunited with Woody. “She’s actually the perfect character,” LaPoint says. Bo “eventually decides to be a lost toy, to embrace and take charge of her own life as a toy and live this new way.”

In order to take Bo Peep from a supporting role to a lead character, the team looked back at all of the clips featuring Bo from previous films – which wasn’t, as LaPoint concedes, very much footage. They considered all the aspects of Bo’s backstory – that she was a baby’s toy, which meant her time with each kid always had an expiration date; that Bo was part of an appliance, unlike the other toys, which meant that she’d likely get passed from one baby to another to eventually a thrift store or in a box of discarded junk on the street. All of these things were crucial to understanding who Bo was, the toy she became, and what life as a lost toy means to her.

Bo’s Return Could Have Major Implications for Woody

“In this story we knew that Bo would be the driving force and influence on Woody, so for his character arc and change she would be the essential character,” LaPoint says. “She’s often the voice of reason to [Woody] and she’s someone that he confides in. She’s kind of a grounding character for him.” Bo’s relationship with Woody is unlike his relationship with, say, Buzz. It’s special, and about as close to romantic as you can get in a Toy Story movie – aside from Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, of course. Director Josh Cooley says they didn’t want to focus too much on the romantic aspect because that would make Toy Story 4 “ a tiny people movie instead of a Toy Story film.” Cooley compare the sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, “which isn’t a love story, but it has that great romantic element in it.”

That said, when Woody is reunited with Bo, it’s a really huge deal. Cooley explains, “If you were to ask Woody what was the biggest moment in his life, he would say, ‘It’s when I met Bo Peep for the second time.’” Bo shows Woody that being a lost toy is far from the nightmarish concept he always envisioned. It’s a thrilling life where Bo can play with lots of kids and interact with tons of different toys. Every day is an adventure, and she never has to worry about being tossed aside because it’s already happened to her.

All of this makes the idea of leaving Bonnie behind to join the lost toys a pretty attractive proposition for Woody to consider – especially since he hasn’t exactly been a favored toy in Bonnie’s collection as of late. Will Woody leave Bonnie – and Buzz and the rest of the gang – behind to live with Bo in the playground of lost toys? It seems entirely plausible, and it could be a major change for a character who has devoted his life to being a one-kid kind of toy.

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