In 1995, audiences were introduced to Woody, Buzz and the rest of Andy’s toys for the first time. Now, in 2022, we’re anticipating Disney and Pixar’s latest release, Lightyear.
Although, this film isn’t about the Buzz we all know and love, but in fact is a sci-fi, action-adventure spin-off about the real-life space ranger that inspired the toy Andy received for his birthday in Toy Story.
Supanova talks with director Angus MacLane and producer Galyn Susman to explore what makes Lightyear the next animated smash hit.
While this film is MacLane’s directorial debut, neither Susman nor MacLane are strangers to the Toy Story franchise, having both worked together on almost every Toy Story project since 1999. When asked what made MacLane the right fit to direct Lightyear, Susman was enthusiastic to report, “he’s an inspiration to me, I love his sensibilities. He’s an amazing director… [Angus is] just a great storyteller, and a lot of fun to work with.”
The main attraction of this project was that it would be a science-fiction film, a genre both MacLane and Susman hold close to their hearts.
“We didn’t have a script when we started, it developed – it was the idea: ‘Why don’t we just make the Buzz Lightyear movie?’ And in developing the story, it was a way to tell a sci-fi story and also revisit the Buzz Lightyear mythology, which I never had felt had been completely explored in a way that was satisfying to me,” MacLane explains.
“We didn’t wanna wait too long to get the Buzz Lightyear that you wanted.”
The question remains, why make this film now?
When asked what parts of this film they could not imagine animating 25 years ago, Susman is quick to respond: “All of it.” MacLane chimes in, “The subtlety of animation is really challenging in this film.” Susman reassures “it definitely would’ve been out of our reach 25 years ago, for sure”.
Alongside Chris Evans, Lightyear bills a star-studded cast including the talents of Taika Waititi, Keke Palmer, James Brolin and Dale Soules. Peter Sohn voices Buzz’s feline companion, Sox.
As an intriguing addition to the film, MacLane compares Sox to Luke Skywalker’s companion in Star Wars, R2-D2. “There is a lot of charm to the limitation of say, R2-D2 that I find really compelling. And as an animator, characters of limited possibilities provide a lot of appeal and comedy through their limitations – so that’s what Sox was meant to balance – both of those things.”
The biggest challenge the creative team faced was ensuring audiences could tell the difference between the Buzz in Lightyear universe and the Toy Story Buzz.
“We didn’t want too many references, like ‘Oh, I remember that from Toy Story!’ right in the middle of it – because now you’re thinking about Toy Story and you’ve lost the narrative of what we want for this film.” MacLane explains. “Very quickly you start thinking about the movie you’re watching, and that was really important to us.”
Susman explains that Chris Evans – widely known for his portrayal of Captain America in the MCU – was the missing piece to that puzzle.
“When we first pitched this idea, there was a bit of confusion about what we were doing,” Susman reveals. “So, first and foremost – we thought we should really voice the character with a different actor, so that there wasn’t going to be that confusion.”
“Chris brings so much to the table, and he does superhero – obviously – very well. He is a phenomenal dramatic actor, he is also really strong in comedy and his comedic approach isn’t goofy – so it doesn’t diminish the stakes that you would want to feel in a sci-fi film. So, he was really just sort of a perfect casting for what we were looking for, for this role.”
MacLane adds: “Starting out, we were like right away we don’t want you to impersonate Tim Allen… we were just trying to get Chris to do what he does best.”
To celebrate the cinematic release of Lightyear, this Thursday, Supa-Fans can be in with the chance to win* an awesome prize pack along with a double in-season pass to see the film. To go in the draw, simply visit the competition page and tell us who you would want in your Star Command team in order to save the day and why (*Terms and Conditions apply).
‘Lightyear’ lands in theatres on Thursday, 16 June