"They were really going for it": Cusack, Keaton and cast on Toy Story 3's emotion

RT sits down for a tea party with Jesse, Ken, Buttercup and Barbie...

by Luke Goodsell | Friday, Jun. 18 2010

Yesterday we talked to Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich about the long and winding journey that Pixar's latest film had taken from idea to screen. And if the reviews to date are any indication, it was more than worth the 11-year wait between sequels. Today, we gather together some of the key voice cast -- including returning actors Joan Cusack ("Jesse"), John Ratzenberger ("Hamm"), Jodi Benson ("Barbie") and Estelle Harris ("Mrs. Potato Head"), along with new stars Michael Keaton ("Ken"), Jeff Garlin ("Buttercup") and Kristen Schaal ("Trixie") -- for a conversation about their expectations of Toy Story 3, working with Pixar, and the emotional weight of the film.

Warning: there may be some spoilers.

Expectations for this movie are incredibly high -- what were your thoughts going in to it?

Estelle Harris: Having done the second one I knew the third one would be even better, because the writing kept getting better and I think we were deeper into our characters.

John Ratzenberger: Because I play the piggy bank, I think there's more change in the bank now -- so I kind of walked a little slower.

Jeff Garlin: Working with Pixar is like working with the top of the line; it's so fun and the people are so creative and thoughtful and collaborative. It's like there's no negativity about anything you do with them. It's the best working experience.

Joan Cusack: I knew when it got to be the most serious part of the movie, you know, that they were really going for it. I think with all of the success that they've had, and all of the luxury, to be so thoughtful and creative, it kind of really went for making a great movie.

Michael, how did you approach the Ken character?

Michael Keaton: I thought that 98 per cent of this guy is just so unabashedly enthusiastic and kind of weirdly and oddly pure; and just kind of dumb enough. I did this movie called Multiplicity once, where I played various versions of myself, clones, and I guess number three was extraordinarily sensitive and it was fun to play. I think "swell" is the word. He was very easily affected because he's so sensitive. Ken's not quite that, because he's not quite as bright. One of the nice things about Ken, and it'd be nice to have in life, is that plastic hair -- there's really not that much work to do.

EH: But he is beautiful.

MK: He's very handsome. He's beautiful on the inside. To me. [Laughs]

Did you find it odd that Lee [Unkrich] and John [Lasseter] thought of you first for Ken?

MK: I don't find anything odd these days, you know. If someone goes, "Hey, you're playing Bin Laden", I say, "Alright". [Laughs] So, no -- I just laughed a lot.

How do you all feel about Andy's story coming to an end?

JR: The aspect I like about it is that it's not coming to an end, it's paying it forward.

MK: The thing that gets to you -- and I really didn't notice until I saw it -- is the emotion of this film. It's really wonderful. But all those Pixar movies do that. It's not like I'm the PR man for Pixar -- that'd get a bit sickening -- but they really are a wonderful blend of humor and filmmaking; true filmmaking.