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Today we’re talking about Chris Evans on Lightyear’s Same-Sex Kiss and Trying to Sound Like Tim Allen
Chris Evans has been called for duty in Disney-Pixar’s new Toy Story spin-off, Lightyear. The animated movie tells the origin story of the hero who inspired the Buzz Lightyear toy, voiced by Tim Allen in the four Toy Story films. Mastering the voice of Buzz, and delivering his most famous line—“to infinity and beyond”—was an “intimidating” task for Evans.
“I used Tim Allen as a guideline. He did such a good job, and I’d be a fool not to acknowledge the work he did,” said Evans at the film’s world premiere in Hollywood on Wednesday. “But I couldn’t just do a shameless impression. I had to somehow create my own understanding of the character, and try to make some fresh tracks in the snow while paying homage to the great work that he did. Eventually I felt comfortable enough to make my own interpretation, and part of that was lowering the tone of my voice. I basically have to lower the register of my voice in everything that I do.”
The change in actors was a deliberate move, meant to set a contrast between Buzz from the Toy Story franchise and Buzz from Lightyear. “Tim’s version of Buzz is a little goofier and is a little dumber, and so he is the comic relief. In this film, Buzz is the action hero. He’s serious and ambitious and funny, but not in a goofy way that would undercut the drama,” said director Angus MacLane. “Chris Evans has the gravitas and that movie-star quality that our character needed to separate him and the movie from Tim’s version of the toy in Toy Story.”
Lightyear, in theaters June 17, begins with a title card telling us that in 1995, little boy Andy got a toy Buzz: “It was from his favorite movie. This is that movie.” The new film focuses on Buzz and his crew trying to make it back to Earth after getting marooned on a hostile planet while battling foreign creatures and foes, including Buzz’s archenemy Zurg (voiced by James Brolin).
The film also features the first-ever same-sex kiss in a Pixar movie, between Buzz’s longtime commander and best friend, Space Ranger Alisha Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba), and her wife. The historical moment happens during an emotional montage where the audience sees glimpses of Alisha and her partner starting a family together, and at one point greeting each other with a kiss on the lips.
“It’s incredible, and a real hats off to Disney and Pixar for having that kiss be a part of this story,” said Aduba. “The kiss is a greeting and a gesture of love that is tender. It does establish who they are as people, but it is not the singular identifier for who either of them are. Seeing a loving gay couple in a meaningful way is important for everybody.”
The kiss was initially cut from the movie, but reinstated after LGBTQ+ employees at Pixar spoke out last March in an open letter claiming that Disney corporate executives had actively censored “overtly gay affection” in its films. Reports previously revealed that Disney, Pixar’s parent company, had donated $190,000 in support of Florida Republicans, weeks before Disney started to condemn the state’s Parental Rights in Education bill, which forbids discussions of sexual orientation for students in kindergarten through third grade.
“It’s great that it’s back in the film,” said Evans, who has an openly gay brother. “I think it’s a shame that it’s such a story. It should be more normalized, but I’m glad we are making those steps.”
Producer Galyn Susman said the gay couple in Lightyear was never meant to make headlines. “It’s important to show all of the wonderful people that are around us and represent everybody, including same-sex couples, in our film,” said Susman, who has been a part of Pixar since 1990. “Representation is huge for us, and we want to make connections with as many people as possible. Alisha and her wife have a relationship that lasts an entire lifetime. We don’t have enough movies that show relationships that last an entire life, and that’s aspirational.”