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Toy Story 3 - Darla K Anderson interview

Toy Story 3

Interview by Rob Carnevale

PIXAR producer Darla K Anderson talks about some of the behind-the-scenes work on Toy Story 3, why the company never opts for stunt casting and which of the toys rate as her favourite characters…

Q. What is it that 3D brings to the world of animation?
Darla K Anderson: I think 3D is just a really fun way to watch our film. We, at Pixar, and particularly in Toy Story 3, use a lighter touch with our 3D. We don’t want to it to really distance the audience emotionally in any way, shape or form. Instead, we want to draw the audience in, so in that way we see it more as a window into the world.

Q. Pixar are famed for your painstaking attitude towards every element of the making of the movie. Does the additional element of 3D mean it takes a little longer or create the magic?
Darla K Anderson: It takes a little bit longer to produce it but we have this wonderful team led by passionate 3D lovers, who worked with Lee [Unkrich] to make sure it was done in concert with our film.

Q. At the famed meeting in the cabin, what was the moment or contribution that you’re most proud of in getting Toy Story 3 up and running?
Darla K Anderson: Well, it’s such a collaborative process that I was just proud to be there to be honest with you. All of us have been friends and colleagues for so long, it’s such a privilege to be a part of this process. It was a two day off-site. The first day, we didn’t really come up with much, but on the second day we started rounding on some part of the conversation and a part of the conception of Toy Story 3.

Q. Pixar never seem to go for stunt casting… we never see a pop star doing a voice because it’ll bring in that audience…
Darla K Anderson: We rarely do that. It’s important to us. We’re geeks and purists and so it’s importance that whatever we do and whoever we cast supports the storyline and their voices have to be so memorable and so full of colour. They have to imbue a soul into the character. When we cast Tom Hanks and Tim Allen in Toy Story, for instance, they weren’t the big names that they were at the end of Toy Story, at the end of four years.

Q. How easy was it to get everyone back together after 11 years?
Darla K Anderson: They were thrilled to come back. They couldn’t have been more excited, so it was quite easy actually. Each one of the original voice cast now is an extended part of our family… we’re like their best friends, so we’re in contact with the all the time. So, it was a mere phone call to schedule the meeting.

Q. Disney has strong traditional values, so how prevalent are these in your mind when you’re developing a project?
Darla K Anderson: We really try to stay true to the story we’re trying to tell. In the case of the toys, there is a natural tension where a lot of these universal themes are born from: a toy is meant to be played with and be loyal to their owner. In our minds, that’s the purpose of a toy. But there’s the natural tension of the child will eventually grow up. So, those very universal very human themes came out of just the truth of the story we were trying to tell.

Q. As the founding members of Pixar do get older, how do you retain that sense of youth and enthusiasm in the films you make?
Darla K Anderson: There’s a lot of really great new talent coming in. We had two or three really talented young folks on our Story teams that really fused a lot of great new ideas and life into the team, and actually made us feel a bit old because the first time they saw Toy Story, which inspired them to get into the industry, they were eight-years-old. But we think we’re young until that happens. You don’t realise how much time has passed until you have this new, young talent come in and tell us that they were quite young when they saw the first film.

Q. Can you name your favourite character in the film?
Darla K Anderson: I was going to say Mr Prickle-Pants because he’s always been brilliant from the moment he hit the screen and Lee used to do the sketch for it. But Rex is just an innocent… he’s innocent and no matter what he’s doing he sparks up the screen. So, it’s hard not to have a soft spot for him.

Read our review of Toy Story 3