July 26, 2019

What is it Like to Play Woody Four Times Over Three Decades?

Tom Hanks is a national treasure and so are the "Toy Story" films. But what is it like to play Woody that many times? 

The first Toy Story movie came out in 1995 when I was 7. Toy Story 4 just came out and I'm 32. That's a helluva long time for one person to play a character, but lucky for us, toys don't age.

But Tom Hanks did. Still, he voices the world's favorite cowboy with perfection. 

Hanks first voiced Woody in 1991, when the idea for Toy Story came around. 

So what keeps Woody so fresh? And why do we still care about our toys after all these years? 

Let's watch Tom Hanks talk about playing Woody on BAFTA Guru

It is really beautiful that Hanks equates the success fo the franchise with the amalgamation of all the characters in the story. 

He talks about unique challenges in each movie - the reason he kept coming back to the voice is that every movie is about a new emotional experience for him to chase. That means new tangible goals that actually help inspire the way he speaks as Woody. 

Hanks calls voice acting a mental exercise because he has to imagine the moment and block out the acoustics and stage, and just see the story. 

In terms of finding the versions of the lines, practice makes perfect. Though now that he's on the fourth movie, he can focus completely on being present within the story. To strategize, Hanks actually has his back toward the team so he can get to the emotional places he needs to without the distractions of seeing people on set. 

That's a new trick for the fourth movie, and one he wishes he employed much earlier. 

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