Unkrich Talks Toy Story Trilogy
But even more crucially, the Toy Story trilogy has been Pixar's crucible: After the notorious "Black Friday," Pixar realized it had to make Toy Story the Pixar way, humanizing Woody and validating his existential optimism about the role of Andy's toys. Then with only nine months to deliver a revamped Toy Story 2, Pixar added greater tension to Woody's fear of abandonment. Finally, when faced with an unworkable premise for Toy Story 3, the Pixar brain trust summoned some of their life experiences in constructing a final adventure to "Infinity and Beyond."
When I first raised the notion of Toy Story representing the Pixar story, producer Darla Anderson said it was hard to put those emotions into words. She recalled the first internal screening at the studio: "I invited everybody who had been at the studio since Toy Story. I just wanted it to be a touchstone of sorts. And a lot of people after that screening were very emotional about it, and I think a lot of it had to do with that projection of, 'Wow, we've been on this insane, incredible, fabulous but intense journey.'
Then, in metaphorically applying the lesson learned at the end of Toy Story 3, Anderson observed, "Change is necessary, but you don't lose the love no matter what."
I raised the same observation with Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich, as we further explored the significance of the trilogy for Pixar.
Lee Unkrich: Well, if you're feeling that, it's probably a reflection of our returning to our roots in making this film. You know, going back 15 years when I was first working on Toy Story with John [Lasseter] and Pete [Docter] and everybody, it's a long time ago, but in many ways it's not. In many ways we still feel like we're back in that space. Making that film we had no idea if it was going to be any good, if anyone was going to like it, if we were ever going to make another movie again. But we were having a really amazing and fun time making it anyway.