Toy Story 4 Set Visit

It’s been almost 10 years since we last saw Woody, Buzz, and the gang. And even though not that much time has elapsed in their animated world, there are still plenty of changes ahead for our favorite characters in Toy Story 4 including new adventures, new crises, and some new villains, too.

We recently had the privilege of visiting the Pixar campus for a sneak peek at the upcoming sequel, which picks up where Toy Story 3 left off: Woody and the toys are living with Bonnie, who is embarking on a harrowing adventure of her own as she begins kindergarten. Just as Woody begins to settle into his life with Bonnie, her family sets off on a road trip vacation, where an encounter with a familiar old pal has the potential to change Woody’s life forever.

Along the way, we’ll be meeting several new faces – some friendly, and others… not so much. Read on for everything you need to know about the new characters in Toy Story 4.

Forky

Yes, that anxious plastic spork is every bit as amazing as you think he is based on the trailers. Voiced by Veep’s Tony Hale, Forky is sure to become an immediate fan-favorite. His origin story is pretty original, to say the least: On her first day of school, Bonnie finds herself lost in a sea of strange faces. When all the kids group together at various tables for craft time, Bonnie is a bit of an outcast, left alone with few supplies (thanks to a monstrous child who runs over and takes what little she has). Woody – who wasn’t supposed to go to school with Bonnie – leaps out of her backpack in the cubby (who else feels intense nostalgia for cubbies?!) and throws together some random craft supplies while Bonnie isn’t looking. She takes those supplies, which include a plastic spork, googly eyes, glitter glue, and pipe cleaners (of course), and makes a new friend for herself.

And just like with the regular toys, when Bonnie isn’t paying attention, Forky comes to life. Unfortunately, Forky has a pressing urge to throw himself into the nearest trash bin, leaving Woody to repeatedly rescue him. At first, Forky mostly only says things like “I’m trash!”, which – combined with his anxious, precariously-glued face and his all-consuming existential crisis – makes him an instantly meme-able character. It’s impossible to watch these early Forky scenes without feeling a strong urge to shout “SAME.” But Forky’s mere existence raises all kinds of questions, like can anyone just make a toy that comes to life? What are the rules here? During a press conference with director Josh Cooley and producers Jonas Rivera and Mark Neilsen, the trio confirmed that what makes Forky so special is that Bonnie wrote her name on the bottom of his popsicle-stick feet. “That’s a big part of it,” Cooley says. “It seals the deal for Forky.”

As for his relentless urge to throw himself in the trash, Rivera says that Forky “instinctively knows what his purpose is.” The filmmakers never thought of him as “wanting to die,” instead Forky just knows he’s intended for a very specific purpose, and once that purpose is complete he goes in the trash. “And that’s what Toy Story is actually built upon,” adds Cooley. “Everything has a purpose, so a toy’s purpose is to be there for their child, a cup’s purpose is to hold water, so being that he’s a spork, it’s like – soup, salad, chili. Single-use.”

Toy Story 4 - Duke Caboom

Duke Caboom

Ever since we found out Keanu Reeves has a role in Toy Story 4, we’ve been desperate to know who he’s playing. As it turns out, he’s playing one of the coolest new characters in the sequel – and possibly the most Keanu-appropriate for this realm. His name is Duke Caboom, and he’s a Canadian daredevil toy created to be able to do all sorts of awesome stunts and tricks on his trusty motorcycle. Quick checklist: Reeves is also Canadian. He also loves motorcycles (he has his own motorcycle company). And he’s obviously really into stunts. Duke is Keanu, kind of, which is why Cooley says Reeves was at the top of their list of actors to voice Duke.

We first meet Duke when Bo Peep takes Woody to a speakeasy (inside a pinball machine) and introduces him to the daredevil – who also happens to be Bo’s old beau. We quickly learn that Duke was sadly never able to successfully perform the stunts as advertised in his old commercials, but he can pose. In fact, it’s his favorite thing to do, and he promptly displays a series of cool action figure poses for Bo and Woody. When Reeves visited the Pixar campus to discuss the role, Cooley says it was apparent he was perfect for the part; he even got up on a table in the cafeteria and did a series of poses. “Every time we recorded with him,” Cooley says Reeves “just had the biggest smile on his face.” While Michael Keaton’s Ken is sitting Toy Story 4 out, Duke Caboom will fill the hilarious plastic void left by his absence – easily. And because you’re going to ask about it as soon as you leave the theater: Yes, there will be Duke Caboom merchandise. In fact, you can already buy a Duke Caboom t-shirt at the Pixar campus store (I did).

Ducky and Bunny

At one point during the family road trip, the gang find themselves at a local carnival with rides and games. It’s one of two incredibly detailed new locations in the film, and it’s also where Buzz Lightyear meets Ducky and Bunny. Mistakenly strapped to the prize wall, Buzz struggles to free himself, only to meet a pair of cynical stuffed animals who are literally inseparable. Voiced by Keegan-Michael Key, Ducky is a tiny guy who is clearly insecure about his size – think of him as the Joe Pesci to Bunny’s Robert De Niro. Bunny is, of course, voiced by Jordan Peele.

The pair were cast pretty early on in the process, and Cooley says they were some of the first cast members to record their lines – four years ago. “They were on really early and as the story evolved and changed, they were always a part of it and always there. Watching them perform has been one of the highlights of working here.” Key and Peele recorded all of their dialogue together in the same room. “They just bounce off each other so well,” says Cooley. “They’re hilarious, as we all know, but the thing that blew me away is how they were able to improv, but stay on point in the moment and feel like it’s not just being funny for funny’s sake. Every take was supporting the story.”

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