Toy Story 3 Director" /> "It's Toy Hell," Says Toy Story 3 Director - Page 2 - Rotten Tomatoes

"It's Toy Hell," Says Toy Story 3 Director

Lee Unkrich on the precarious journey from idea to Pixar's most anticipated sequel


It's a credit to this film that it makes Toy Story 2 feel like the middle part of a trilogy.

Well thank god. [Laughs] We could also have gone completely off the rails and made a movie that nobody thought should have been made.

Part threes are traditionally where things can fall apart, because you're piling on additional characters and plots---

Where you lose sight of what was special and why you made the first one in the first place.

Right, and yet you do add a lot of new story arcs and characters, and the action in this one is bigger and more spectacular. How do you balance all of that and not fall into the traps of the threequel?

I think, at its core, we had a strong emotional storyline. The movie had a reason for being. We weren't just inventing a new adventure for the toys to go on. We were challenging everybody. Everybody in the film is faced with great change, and we wanted to have all of those characters truthfully deal with that change. I think the other thing that we had going for us is that we had the right ending. Very often coming up with the ending for a film is one of the hardest things to do; the beginning and the ending. In this case we had the ending right away, from day one; we knew how the film was going to end. Not only did we have the ending but we knew that we had an ending that had the potential to be really emotional and really powerful.

Was the ending, as it plays out now, always the ending?

No, that came about from two-and-a-half years of story development. We always knew it was going to be a "prison break" film, but at one point we had the toys just break out and make their way back to Andy's house in lots of different adventurous ways. It was in developing Lotso's backstory, in figuring out what made him tick and why he was the way he was -- at one point we had him getting thrown away and ending up on a truck and going to the dump; and at that time that didn't really work for us, it didn't really explain why he was the way he was. But I couldn't get this idea of the dump out of my head: Toys are afraid of one thing, and that's not being played with by kids. Anything that keeps them from getting played with by kids gives them anxiety, whether it's getting broken or getting lost or getting thrown away or getting relegated to the attic. In my mind, I thought we really needed to take the toys to their endgame. If we were going to be wrapping up the story in this film I thought that we needed to take them to the brink; we needed to do to them what they are most afraid of, which is getting thrown away and ending up at the dump.

It's like toy Inferno.

Right, it's toy Hell at the end of the film. And we committed to it fully. It is emotionally intense at the end of the film, but I think it was the right thing to do. I think if we had done any less than what we did, we would have been pussyfooting around what was a very dramatic situation.

Lotso is a great addition to the character cast. Who came up with him?

He was an old idea, back before there was even a Toy Story. John and Pete and Andrew and Joe had been kicking around ideas for what would be Pixar's first feature. They knew they wanted it set in the world of toys, but this was pre Woody and Buzz. They had an idea for a film that would be set entirely in a big toy store, like a big Toys"R"Us, and they had a character named Lotso who was part of that story. That ended up not coming to be but, like I mentioned, some of these ideas just go into hibernation. So when we started talking about the toys going into daycare, we knew that daycare was gonna have to be populated by a lot of toys -- and we knew there was probably gonna have to be a leader. So we resurrected the idea of Lotso, which we always thought was a fun idea; there just hadn't been a place for him until now.

You also went to Alcatraz to do some research for the "Sunnyside" daycare -- that might be odd to hear for some, as research for a Pixar film.

[Laughs] Yeah. But when you see the movie it makes perfect sense. We knew we had to see daycares and how they worked, so we visited lots of daycares and took a lot of photographs and were very inspired by them. We were practically spoon fed the inspiration, because daycares are only a breath away from being prisons for kids. You've got these walled-in exercise areas in the back, security cameras everywhere, bins that look like jail cells... there are just so many similarities between the two, so we fully embraced them. Then we visited Alcatraz just to look at a real prison, take a lot of photo references and find the corrollaries between the two. I wish we had more exotic, exciting research on this movie -- I would have preferred to go to Paris and have five-star meals like Brad [Bird] did on Ratatouille or go into Venezuela and into the jungles like Pete did [for Up]. We had this, and we went to the dump -- which required a long hot shower afterward [laughs].


Click here to find out what Lee Unkrich picked for his all-time five favorite films.

Comments

Splitter

Matthew Burge

The way he describes the dump scene is giving off Brave Little Toaster vibes. I like. I like very much.

Jun 15 - 07:03 PM

August M.

Agustin Macias

Well most of the Pixar staff worked on that movie. It's the closes thing for a hand-drawn film for Pixar.

Jun 15 - 09:42 PM

Elaine g.

Elaine green

why

Jun 16 - 08:42 AM

Hannah C.

Hannah Caldwell

Yeah, I thought it was a LOT like The Brave Little Toaster. Only slightly more terrifying. I spent the majority of that movie crying in the fetal position.

Jun 20 - 08:49 PM

Bob M.

Bob Mark

Haha, so let me get this straight, Disney tried making a Toy Story movie WITHOUT Pixar? Thank God that didn't happen. I can only imagine that it would be as bad as Chicken Little.

Leave the 3D animation to Pixar, Disney, and you guys stick to the 2D animation. Life works better that way.

Jun 15 - 08:00 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

Bolt was alright...

Jun 15 - 09:51 PM

Splitter

Matthew Burge

Bolt is superceded for being directed by John Lassetter.

Jun 15 - 10:56 PM

August M.

Agustin Macias

It was executive produced by Lasseter(Also Meet the Robinsons and Princess and the Frog), not directed.

Jun 16 - 06:47 AM

Jennifer F.

Jennifer Filips

I agree.

Jun 22 - 12:39 AM

Johnny W.

Johnny Wu

If you check out Toy Story 3 on wikipedia, they actually give you the plot summary of the story that Disney was going to make without Pixar! Something about Buzz Lightyear was being recalled and Andy's toys had to go rescue him. It sounded like a pretty good idea, but I'm glad that Pixar shut down Disney's version of Toy Story 3.

Jun 15 - 08:49 PM

August M.

Agustin Macias

The deceased Circle 7 company, "Pixaren't". The plot made no sense, it was a cheap version of the second one.

Jun 15 - 08:59 PM

Mr. Dufresne

Chip McNair

I remember reading that years ago (before this version of Toy Story 3 was announced), and trying to get excited for it (I didn't know at the time that Disney was behind that story). I had wanted a Toy Story 3 for so long, but I was not intrigued by that plot at all. Still, I was disappointed when I learned it was cancelled. But when the Pixar version was announced, and when the plot was later revealed. I was much more intrigued.

And the movie obviously turned out great. Toy Story just wasn't meant to stink.

Jun 19 - 01:34 PM

Jennifer F.

Jennifer Filips

I completely agree.

Jun 22 - 12:42 AM

August M.

Agustin Macias

The deceased Circle 7 company, "Pixaren't". The plot made no sense, it was a cheap version of the second one.

Jun 15 - 08:59 PM

August M.

Agustin Macias

Went to Alcatraz to research for Sunnyside instead of Day-cares?! WOW!!!

Jun 15 - 09:05 PM

Throw An Onion

Crornk Kaleidescope

Can Pixar do anything wrong?

Jun 15 - 09:20 PM

nate2709

Nate 2709

According to Armond White, they do everything wrong.

Jun 16 - 12:22 AM

AlexDeLargeisHere

Harold Warren

Almond White also gave Transformers 2 a positive review. Proving his opinion are the equivilant in value, or the lack thereof, as a teenager.

Jun 16 - 04:41 AM

Mr. Dufresne

Chip McNair

Hey, I'm a teenager, buddy, and I know Armond's a moron!

Jun 19 - 01:34 PM

August M.

Agustin Macias

Well most of the Pixar staff worked on that movie. It's the closes thing for a hand-drawn film for Pixar.

Jun 15 - 09:42 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

Bolt was alright...

Jun 15 - 09:51 PM

Splitter

Matthew Burge

Bolt is superceded for being directed by John Lassetter.

Jun 15 - 10:56 PM

August M.

Agustin Macias

It was executive produced by Lasseter(Also Meet the Robinsons and Princess and the Frog), not directed.

Jun 16 - 06:47 AM

Splitter

Matthew Burge

Bolt is superceded for being directed by John Lassetter.

Jun 15 - 10:56 PM

August M.

Agustin Macias

It was executive produced by Lasseter(Also Meet the Robinsons and Princess and the Frog), not directed.

Jun 16 - 06:47 AM

raheell a.

raheell abbas

well am lil bit crazy abut animation ,, so lets try this alsO >>>> Toy Story :D

Jun 15 - 11:20 PM

Hamboner

Brian Lorenzen

All of Pixar's films are so good, it's like I'm almost getting sick of them being so consistently excellent. There must be something wrong with me, because I'm starting to tune the company out. I know they produce quality, I guess I'm just tired of their sensibilities.

Jun 15 - 11:38 PM

nate2709

Nate 2709

According to Armond White, they do everything wrong.

Jun 16 - 12:22 AM

AlexDeLargeisHere

Harold Warren

Almond White also gave Transformers 2 a positive review. Proving his opinion are the equivilant in value, or the lack thereof, as a teenager.

Jun 16 - 04:41 AM

Mr. Dufresne

Chip McNair

Hey, I'm a teenager, buddy, and I know Armond's a moron!

Jun 19 - 01:34 PM

AlexDeLargeisHere

Harold Warren

Almond White also gave Transformers 2 a positive review. Proving his opinion are the equivilant in value, or the lack thereof, as a teenager.

Jun 16 - 04:41 AM

Mr. Dufresne

Chip McNair

Hey, I'm a teenager, buddy, and I know Armond's a moron!

Jun 19 - 01:34 PM

BLaCKWoLF

BLaCKWoLF .

I personally hate it when people dont give Disney enough credit. 3D or not, they once set the standards by which all animation was measured by. Just because Pixar has succeeded them as the deserved, undisputed Kings of animation as of late, does not mean that Disney is not capable of producing good work on their own.

Jun 16 - 04:52 AM

August M.

Agustin Macias

If only Disney Channel got rid of all the crap they give with ACTUAL Disney programing and movies, it will receive less criticism. Remember, Disney Channel is Disney in name only, not quality.

P.S. Without Disney, animation would have never developed into the quality we appreciate today, they set the standard; First in Animated Film(Snow White). First in Stop-Motion film(Nightmare Before Christmas). First in CGI(Toy Story).

Jun 16 - 06:54 AM

manwithoutfear19

Daniel Raimondi

Disney did set the standard for animation and movies i wish the channel would realize that

Jun 16 - 12:01 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Gotta remember the Disney Channel is aiming at very young kids and very young kids are for the most part morons. It's not like Sesame St is an epic masterwork, but it's good at what it does i.e. distracting children for a couple of hours so their parents can have sex.

Jun 18 - 09:07 AM

Jennifer F.

Jennifer Filips

Toy Story was Pixar too!

Jun 22 - 12:44 AM

Respiked

Keith Cable

Disney's tentpole features have been and remain timeless masterpieces (with some notable execptions, particularly several from the late 90's early 00's) but the problem is they constantly dilute their brand and image with all of the Hannah Montana, Zach and Cody, Jonas brothers BS because, let's not kid ourselves, that crap sells more and costs less than a feature film.

Of course I always tell the story... My wife and I went to Walt Disney World for our Honeymoon in '04 (we love the place, sue us) and the place was PLASTERED with Hillary Duff. 5 years later we took our son in '09 and it was PLASTERED with Miley Cyrus... what the hell happened to Hillary Duff? Anyone know (or care)? And where is Miley Cyrus going to be in another 5 years?

Jun 16 - 07:47 AM

manwithoutfear19

Daniel Raimondi

i went there in '00 and none of that was there lol

Jun 16 - 09:59 AM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Again you've gotta remember those programs aren't aimed at you. I'm assuming your a legal adult, so you can't really judge the product. Remember your own parents opinions on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers. Same principle applies. Those programs are aimed very specifically at a certain demographic and that demographic adores them. As much as we'd like it to be, the world isn't solely designed to amuse 20-40 something comicbook fan movie buffs. Only RT World is, and even they feed our hate with the occasional chick flick and get you guys riled up with Twilight.

Jun 18 - 09:10 AM

Bucky

Matt Buchman

there is no arguing the greatness of disney, it is just the fact that they were going to make a toy story 3 without pixar. that was just wrong.

Jun 16 - 08:54 AM

Emerald1234S

Stephen Murphy

Yes Disney are the single most important company in terms of progressing animated films in cinema history, but for the past 15 years or so they've been massively outdone in the animation department by Pixar and Studio Ghibli. Disney values are just outdated. In their entire history the only original film they made was The Lion King, whereas Pixar and Ghibli generally (not always in Ghibli's case) make original films. That has some bearing I think

Jun 19 - 01:38 PM

August M.

Agustin Macias

It was executive produced by Lasseter(Also Meet the Robinsons and Princess and the Frog), not directed.

Jun 16 - 06:47 AM

August M.

Agustin Macias

If only Disney Channel got rid of all the crap they give with ACTUAL Disney programing and movies, it will receive less criticism. Remember, Disney Channel is Disney in name only, not quality.

P.S. Without Disney, animation would have never developed into the quality we appreciate today, they set the standard; First in Animated Film(Snow White). First in Stop-Motion film(Nightmare Before Christmas). First in CGI(Toy Story).

Jun 16 - 06:54 AM

manwithoutfear19

Daniel Raimondi

Disney did set the standard for animation and movies i wish the channel would realize that

Jun 16 - 12:01 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Gotta remember the Disney Channel is aiming at very young kids and very young kids are for the most part morons. It's not like Sesame St is an epic masterwork, but it's good at what it does i.e. distracting children for a couple of hours so their parents can have sex.

Jun 18 - 09:07 AM

Jennifer F.

Jennifer Filips

Toy Story was Pixar too!

Jun 22 - 12:44 AM

Respiked

Keith Cable

Disney's tentpole features have been and remain timeless masterpieces (with some notable execptions, particularly several from the late 90's early 00's) but the problem is they constantly dilute their brand and image with all of the Hannah Montana, Zach and Cody, Jonas brothers BS because, let's not kid ourselves, that crap sells more and costs less than a feature film.

Of course I always tell the story... My wife and I went to Walt Disney World for our Honeymoon in '04 (we love the place, sue us) and the place was PLASTERED with Hillary Duff. 5 years later we took our son in '09 and it was PLASTERED with Miley Cyrus... what the hell happened to Hillary Duff? Anyone know (or care)? And where is Miley Cyrus going to be in another 5 years?

Jun 16 - 07:47 AM

manwithoutfear19

Daniel Raimondi

i went there in '00 and none of that was there lol

Jun 16 - 09:59 AM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Again you've gotta remember those programs aren't aimed at you. I'm assuming your a legal adult, so you can't really judge the product. Remember your own parents opinions on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers. Same principle applies. Those programs are aimed very specifically at a certain demographic and that demographic adores them. As much as we'd like it to be, the world isn't solely designed to amuse 20-40 something comicbook fan movie buffs. Only RT World is, and even they feed our hate with the occasional chick flick and get you guys riled up with Twilight.

Jun 18 - 09:10 AM

Elaine g.

Elaine green

why

Jun 16 - 08:42 AM

Bucky

Matt Buchman

there is no arguing the greatness of disney, it is just the fact that they were going to make a toy story 3 without pixar. that was just wrong.

Jun 16 - 08:54 AM

manwithoutfear19

Daniel Raimondi

i went there in '00 and none of that was there lol

Jun 16 - 09:59 AM

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