Toy Story 4, perhaps unsurprisingly, was another big hit for Disney and Pixar, joining the $1 billion club at the box office. But for many of us, Toy Story 3 seemed like the perfect ending to a perfect trilogy. Despite that, this sequel, directed by Josh Cooley, managed to overcome the odds and win over audiences around the world. Tony Hale was no small part of that equation, as the Arrested Development and Veep star was responsible for bringing Forky to life.
Forky joined the fold alongside Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang this time around. A spork, turned into a toy, introduced something totally new to this universe that has been going strong since 1995. Audiences embraced Forky in a big way. So much so that the character will be getting his own Disney+ short-form series, Forky Asks a Question.
I recently had the good fortune of speaking with Tony Hale in honor of the home video release of Toy Story 4. We talked all about Forky, what it was like stepping into this franchise and the upcoming Disney+ series, Forky Asks a Question.
You got the chance to bring a new character into an iconic franchise filled with iconic characters. What was that like for you?
Tony Hale:. He’s totally new. Everything is new to him, and I personally felt very overwhelmed even to be there, so I could definitely draw on that stuff. But I love that he didn’t even understand the rules of the universe. He didn’t understand why all the characters dropped to the ground when humans walked in. First of all, he had a huge existential crisis going on because he’s a spork and they kept calling him Forky. Woody says he’s a toy, and he’s like, “I’m not a toy. I’m here to help people eat chili and then I go to the trash. That’s my route.” So I just kind of like that he kind of shook things up a little bit and just asked a ton of questions. I loved it.
Just kind of as a follow up to that, this was the franchise that I think a lot of us thought was sort of done. We thought it had the perfect punctuation mark to it. And then Toy Story 4 comes along, and luckily, everybody loves it. It’s making a bunch of money. Forky, specifically was very embraced. How did you feel at that point? Were you relieved? What was it like to see the response?
Tony Hale: I was. I mean, going into it you’re like,” Oh, I hope this works out.” But the trust that I have in Pixar. I mean Inside Out was one of my favorite movies that Pixar has done. It’s the most beautiful movie. In addition, all the Toy Story movies. But the thing about Pixar is they were not going to tell a story if they don’t have a story to tell. And I had such faith in what they were doing. In all honesty, none of the actors really could really read a script. They never read a full script, so I really didn’t know where Forky’s whole picture was. I would just get pages while I was recording, so it really wasn’t until I saw it on the big screen that I really understood Forky’s journey and understood where they were going and what they wanted and all that stuff. So it was pretty cool.
Forky seems to me like a very resonant character. People really took to him. What do you think, as the person who brought him to life, what do you think makes Forky resonate?
Tony Hale: I just love that he unashamedly ask questions I think that we all want to ask many times. You know, many times you want to stand up and Forky is just like, “Why are we here? What’s going on? Why are you doing that?” He just constantly puts it out there. And life is chaotic. And many times we do want to just stand up and be like, “I don’t know what’s going on here, what’s happening?” And there’s a really innocence and kind of wide-eyed perspective that he has. And also I love it because, you know, he again kind of saw himself as trash. But he didn’t really see the negative connotations to it. He’s just like, that’s my route. And Woody comes along and he’s like, “No, you have a bigger purpose. You have value. You were made to be loved and to love.” And it’s like, good God, who doesn’t want to hear that? It’s a beautiful thing to say to somebody.
Totally. You touched on the idea that Forky likes to ask these questions and coincidentally, you’re doing these shorts for Disney+, Forky Asks a Question. Can you tell us a little bit about what that’s gonna be and what people can expect from that?
Tony Hale: Yeah, it’s pretty cool, you know Forky Just in Forky style, he asks a lot of questions like, what’s the Internet? Which I’m still trying to figure out. And then he’s like, what’s money? What’s love? And all the Toy Story characters come alongside him and help him answer these questions. And me as a 49-year-old man, I’m doing these scripts and I’m like, “Huh I learned something today.” You know? So it’s just a very basic, simple format, but it’s really powerful and sweet.
Toy Story 4 is out now on Digital HD, Blu-ray/DVD and 4K Ultra HD from Disney and Pixar.