Mindhole Blowers: 25 Facts You Might Not Know About the Pixar Films
1. The Pizza Planet Truck is in every single Pixar film, except The Incredibles, though it can be found in The Incredibles video game.
2. In A Bug’s Life, John Lassetter repeatedly attempted to get Robert DeNiro to voice Hopper, the grasshopper, but DeNiro repeatedly declined. DeNiro didn’t do animated voice work at the time. Kevin Spacey was offered the part after the 1995 Academy Awards, and he delightfully accepted. DeNiro would make his first voice appearance in an animated film six years later in the miserable Shark’s Tale. Uh, good choice.
3. The fact that A Bug’s Life and Antz were released around the same time is not coincidental. In fact, it’s evident that Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was ousted from Disney and then started Dreamworks Animation, stole the idea from John Lassetter, and there was a lengthy and heated argument between the studios over this fact. In fact, at one point, Katzenberg tried to extort Pixar by agreeing to put a pin in Antz if Pixar wouldn’t release A Bug’s Life in competition with Prince of Egypt. Pixar refused. Katzenberg then spitefully sped up production on Antz to release it against Bugs. (A Bugs Life would fare much better in theaters — $162 million to $90 million — despite the fact that Antz came out a month earlier).
4. It took four to 13 hours to render EACH FRAME of Toy Story, the first fully computer generated film.
5. Buzz Lightyear’s likeness was modeled after the facial features of John Lasseter.
6. Billy Crystal was originally offered the opportunity to voice Buzz Lightyear but declined, stating later that it was the biggest regret of his career. After Pixar heard that he’d said that, they offered him the role of Mike in Monsters, Inc.
7. Barbie was originally supposed to be the love interest, and Woody’s savior in the original Toy Story film, but Mattel declined to allow Barbie to be in the film because the company that the movie would fail and they didn’t want Barbie associated with it (her character was re-worked into that of Bo-Peep). After the success of Toy Story (it was the highest grossing film of 1995), Mattel jumped at the opportunity to allow Barbie to appear in Toy Story 2.
8. In an early draft of the Toy Story, Woody was presented as a sarcastic jerk, and as a result, the film was deemed unwatchable by Jeffrey Katzenberg (then at Disney), and production was shut down on the film until Woody was reworked into a more likable character.
9. Joss Whedon allegedly created the character Rex the Dinosaur in Toy Story.
10. The Buzz Lightyear cartoon, the yard sale, and Woody’s nightmare in Toy Story 2 were sloppy seconds, all originally conceived for the first film.
11. Bill Murray was also considered for the role of both Buzz Lightyear and Sully in Monsters, Inc, and in fact, was offered the latter, but never returned John Lasseter’s phone call.
12. Jennifer Tilly, who voiced Celia Mae in Monsters, Inc. was married to one of the creators of “The Simpsons,” and Tilly raved about a script written by one of “The Simpsons” writers, Brad Bird. That movie would eventually become The Incredibles.
13. In Monsters, Inc., when Boo attempted to get Sully to stay and play at the end of the film, she offered him a toy Nemo, the first glimpse we got of Nemo, who would be the focus of Finding Nemo two years later. It’s common, in fact, to introduce future characters in background scenes of Pixar films.
14. William H. Macy was originally cast as Marin in Finding Nemo and, in fact, recorded all his voice work before he was replaced by Albert Brooks, who was director Andrew Stanton’s first choice anyway.
15. The number “A-113” appears in some fashion in all of Pixar’s films (license plate number, camera model number, classroom number, etc.). It’s a reference to the California Arts University room where the animators of Pixar Studios attend.
16. Megan Mullally, originally cast as one of the character’s voices in Finding Nemo, was fired from the film for refusing to do her Karen Walker voice from “Will & Grace.”
17. In order to convince Sarah Vowell — who had never done voice acting before — to take the role of Violet, Pixar animators animated one of her “This American Life” segments and showed it to her.
18. In listening to the temp tape of the voice of Edna Mode, Lily Tomlin, who was originally cast in the voice role, said that Brad Bird was so good, “What do you need me for?” Bird would ultimately supply the voice.
19. Many of the Car names in Cars are borrowed from an Isaac Asmimov short story, “Sally,” about sentient robotic cars.
20. This is the stand-up skit — Menu at the Black Angus Restaurant — that convinced Brad Bird to hire Patton Oswalt in Ratatouille.
21. In Up, 20,622 balloons are shown lifting Carl’s house; in actuality, it would take around 12 million balloons to lift it.
22. The dying wish of a 10 year old girl with terminal cancer, Colby Curtin, was to see Up, but Curtin was too ill to attend a screenig. When Pixar heard of this, they sent a Pixar employee to give her a private screening. Curtin’s illness had taken away her eyesight by then, but her mother gave her daughter a play-by-play of the film. Seven hours after she finished watching the movie, Curtin passed away.
23. Toy Story and Toy Story 2 had 100 percent ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. Toy Story 3 had only a 99 percent. Armond White was the only holdout among “top critics.” He was kicked off of Rotten Tomatoes later for being the only top critic to like Jack and Jill.
24. Reese Witherspoon was originally cast as Meridia in Brave, but scheduling conflicts prevented her from doing it (which is strange considering that Tom Hanks provided his voice work in the midst of making other movies, and Jason Lee provided his voice tracks on The Incredibles in only four days).
25. The ball from Luxo, Jr., the first short ever created by Pixar, has appeared in nearly every Pixar production.