ORLANDO, Fla. — When Tony Hale heard the pitch, “We want you to voice an angst-filled plastic utensil named Forky in the new Toy Story movie,” he didn’t need to think that hard before saying yes.

“I remember when they brought me up to Pixar and they described him as kind of nervous. I was like check. He asked a lot of questions. Check. And he’s kind of gullible to a fault. It’s like check. I’m in,” Hale says, as his face breaks into a smile.

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Hale, a two-time Emmy winner known for his roles as Buster Bluth on Arrested Development and Gary Walsh on Veep, joins the Disney/Pixar sequel as a handmade toy who thinks he’s trash and learns he’s so much more thanks to Sheriff Woody (Tom Hanks).

“He’s a character that thinks his home place is trash. That’s all he knows is to help people eat soup. And then Woody comes along and shares that he has a greater purpose. I think just in life, anybody who might see themselves that way, they have purpose. That’s just a beautiful message that Toy Story is giving us … I love that journey he goes on,” Hale, 48, says.

Toy Story 4, which opens tonight, is the latest instalment in the cartoon franchise that began in 1994.

During an interview at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios last week, Hale spoke about the deeper meaning of the third sequel and whether this is really the end for Hanks’ Woody, Tim Allen’s Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the gang.

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The Toy Story franchise is almost a quarter of a century old. What was it like to join such an iconic film series?

Honestly, it comes in waves. I’ve seen the movie and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s good.’ Then I saw Forky’s image on the poster and I keep thinking, ‘Was that actually my voice?’ Then someone hands me a pen (for an autograph), so it hits me in waves. It’s exciting and honestly, ‘What?’

How did you react when you heard you were going to play a spork?

You have an idea of Toy Story, because I have a 13-year-old daughter and we’ve seen all the movies. So you have an idea of the characters and then you see Forky and you think, ‘That’s not what I pictured.’ He’s the first homemade character and the simplicity in how he was made fits in perfectly with how he sees life. He’s just incredibly simple, asks a ton of questions without shame and everything is so fresh to him. He doesn’t even know what embarrassment is. His whole thing is, ‘I’m just going to go to the trash’ and it’s Woody who tells him, ‘You have a bigger purpose.’

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The movie is fun, but there are deeper themes going on. Finding your purpose, the value of taking the road less travelled. What did you think about the decision to pack these deeper philosophical themes into a Toy Story movie?

I liked that the film had this underlying message telling people that you have purpose, you have value. You have worth, just being you.

Let’s talk about endings. What did you think of how Toy Story 4 concludes?

When I saw it, you could see the roots that were planted in these relationships between Woody and Buzz and Bo. Why it’s so emotional to watch is you see that life changes. Life goes on and they have different journeys and now is the time where they might have a little bit of a separate journey. With any change, it’s never going to be the same even if you want it to stay the same.


In Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” Bonnie makes a new friend in kindergarten orientation — literally. (Disney/Pixar)

Now what about the ending of Veep? Your character Gary Walsh ended up in prison thanks to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Selina Meyer. That’s kind of rough.

That was an emotional tsunami. I think I cried for six days straight. I think Gary needed a Woody in his life. But we knew it needed to change and we knew it needed to end, but it’s a bummer because we all liked each other a little too much.

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You’ve played a lot of angsty characters in your career. I’m wondering what your motto is?

When I booked Arrested Development years ago it was a dream job with a dream cast and I was still looking to my next thing. I learned then if you’re not practicing contentment where you are you’re not going to be content when you get what you want.

What’s the best advice you ever got?

Before I had some success in my career, someone said to me, ‘Remember your value now will be the same as it is after success. Your value doesn’t change.’

Time for a controversial question: who’s your favourite Toy Story character?

This is like Sophie’s Choice. I think because he instilled such purpose in Forky’s life it’s Woody. But they all make me laugh.


He’s not a fork. He’s not a spoon. And most of all, Forky is not a toy! (Disney/Pixar)

What was your favourite toy growing up?

Scooter from the Muppet Show. I had one growing up and I loved him. He seemed like my kind of kid.

What happened to Scooter?

I don’t remember. But I remember seeing him, and I was a nerdy, asthmatic kid, I remember seeing him and thinking he’s my guy.

Toy Story 4 opens tonight.

Twitter: @markhdaniell
[email protected]


What the Forky? Tony Hale can’t believe he’s a part of ‘Toy Story 4’

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