Exclusive ‘Toy Story That Time Forgot’ Interview: Voice of Rex, Wallace Shawn Discusses The Enduring Disney Franchise

The beloved Toy Story gang return for a new special, Toy Story That Time Forgot just in time for Christmas, tonight, Tuesday, December 2nd at 8PM ET/PT on ABC. Things go awry for Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang during a post-Christmas play-date in uncharted territory. Recently, TV Equals chatted with legendary actor Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride) who gives voice to the sweet dinosaur Rex. Shawn talked about the message behind the special, revealed why he keeps coming back to the franchise and discussed why he thinks audiences keep coming back for more Toy Story.

TV Equals: What can you tell us about the Toy Story That Time Forgot?

Wallace Shawn: The toys who everybody knows meet up with violent, brutal toys who don’t even know they are toys. In the story, one of the monstrous dinosaurs is very delighted and charmed by Trixie, who sort of flirts with him.

TV Equals: What do you think is the message behind the special?

Wallace Shawn: To me, it was saying that brutality is less fun than quietly playing. That is what I got out of it. There is something insane about the sort of violent, war-like toys who are trying to crush each other. They are presented as out of control and sort of mindless. Our toys are presented as basically enjoying each other even when they pretend to fight. The playroom is a world of pleasant interactions where nobody gets hurt.

TV Equals: Will you tell us a little about the recording process? Did you record Rex’s scenes solo or were other actors present?

Wallace Shawn: No, you are alone and you don’t even really record scenes, in a way. I mean you know what is happening when you say the line. You know where it fits in roughly speaking, but you are working sometimes for quite awhile on individual lines, which you don’t do in a regular movie.

So you do the same line again and again until the director likes exactly how you say it. Where is in a regular movie, the director doesn’t do that. It would be absolutely impossible. A director in a movie or a play never tells an actor how to say a line, whereas in an animated feature, in voice work, they are pretty specific.

TV Equals: You have given voice to Rex since 1995. What keeps you coming back to the character?

Wallace Shawn: Well, you would go back too if you were lucky enough to get that call. Otherwise, I would just have the sad little life of someone who didn’t do that. Before I became an actor, I worked copying people’s papers at a Xerox photocopying shop and I would probably have to go back to that– it would be rather sad.

TV Equals: Why do you think Toy Story is so enduring?

Wallace Shawn: I think it is enduring because the people who make it have been quite careful to not make it unless they had a great idea. I mean they could have brought out one every year. They are very, very careful in how they make them, but they also haven’t done it unless they have had really interesting ideas for what kind of a story they might like to do and they have great writers thinking up ideas.

Most of it is about interesting characters and then there are sort of big, spectacular themes like the conveyer belts in the airport or the garbage dump in Toy Story 3— they are spectacular, amazing themes, but mostly it is about the characters and their complex relationships.

Toy Story That Time Forgot

Catch Toy Story That Time Forgot tonight at 8PM ET/PT on ABC!

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