At the Academy’s 20th anniversary celebration of “Toy Story” Thursday night at Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, Disney/Pixar’s John Lasseter said the plan was to always portray the toys as adults.
“The fundamental thing that we did was we always viewed the toys as adults,” Lasseter said. “We viewed them that when Andy leaves the room it becomes a work place. What we wanted was for Woody to be the leader, he was Andy’s favorite toy but he made sure everybody got played with and they had staff meetings.”
The night opened with a showing of the original “Toy Story” trailer straight from the archives on 35mm film and continued to tell the story of Pixar’s founding until the making of “Toy Story.” They also screened the first Pixar animated short “Luxo Jr.,” which was the first appearance of the now-famous lamp that stars with the Pixar logo before every movie, and “Tin Toy,” which won Lasseter the 1988 Animated Short Film Oscar.
Lasseter, along with panelists Ed Catmull, president of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios; Galyn Susman, character technical director and lighting supervisor for “Toy Story”; and Ralph Eggleston, art director, shared stories and trivia with moderator Jon Favreau and the audience of all ages.
For instance: Pete Docter nailed a board to his tennis shoes and walked around to demonstrate how the plastic army men would walk, pictures of Lasseter sleeping on an air mattress under his desk in the early days of the company were shown. Lasseter also dropped trivia that the carpet outside of toy-torturer Sid’s room is the same carpet pattern from the hotel in “The Shining.”
Lasseter also recounted impressing Steve Jobs for the first time.
“The first time I really impressed Steve because I was able to talk my way past this guard to get into the theater before anyone else and we got prime seats,” Lasseter said. “‘Luxo Jr.’ showed and it’s a minute-and-a-half long and it received a massive standing ovation and Steve looked at me with these gigantic eyes and was just like, ‘I love this.'”
Catmull recounted the film’s first reviews and how much they pointed out what a game-changer “Toy Story” was.
“When the the movie came out almost all the reviews had one line saying it was computer animation and the rest of the review was about the movie,” Catmull said. “The technical people took incredible pride in that, that we had succeeded in making the technology invisible.”