Fans of Woody and Buzz Lightyear have waited more than a decade for this weekend’s Toy Story 3 — not an entirely surprising delay, given Pixar’s reputation for reworking plotlines (or, in some case, scrapping them altogether). The film features more than a dozen new characters, including Ken and Chatter Telephone — but what if several more new candidates were cut along the way? We imagined which characters got the ax, and why.
The Pitch: In 2003, producers discovered nearly fifteen hours of unused Orson Welles narration, most of it from his Mercury Theatre heyday. “At first, we thought it was him rambling in character,” says our insider. “Then we realized it was just Orson, kinda blotto, yelling at the studio engineer. Great, great stuff.” Realizing that the ranting would be perfectly at home coming out of a talking toilet, the Pixar team spent two years incorporating Welles’s words into the character of the wizened “Big John,” who provides the Toy Story gang with not only a hiding place, but also stern words of wisdom.
The Hitch:: Though Big John appeared briefly in a 2004 ShoWest teaser trailer, the character couldn’t survive a Disney regime change. “Michael Eisner loved the idea of a talking toilet,” says a Pixar insider. “He saw flume rides. But Bob [Iger] killed the idea pretty much the day he took office.”
After a string of failed one-liners, Mr. Potato Head (Don Rickles) wonders if he’s lost his comedic touch. When he grows despondent, best pals Hamm (John Ratzenberger) and Rex (Wallace Shawn) hire this maniacally hooting fifties doll
to act as sycophantic cheer-me-up.
“That doll gave everyone the willies,” says our insider. “Rickles said it reminded him of Vincent Price on a nitrous jag, which I think was a euphemism, but either way, we had to cut her.”
The Pitch: In a nod to Pixar’s Ratatouille, the gang discovers this sixties hot-rod icon hiding out in the kitchen storage area, where he races Slinky Dog.
The Hitch: Preview audiences weren’t ready to see a seedy, scruffy, presumably hopped-up motorcycle rodent in a leading role: “It tested terribly everywhere except for Buffalo, weirdly,” says our source.
The Pitch: After getting separated from the rest of the group, the little green aliens take refuge in an abandoned church, where the John the Baptist puppet reenacts the story of his life.
The Hitch: “From a technical point of view, it’s hard to animate a self-decapitating puppet,” says our insider. “Henson tried it for years.”
The Pitch: While hiding out in a New Jersey toy convention, Woody and Buzz are introduced to the miniature Sambora, who espouses the power of friendship and serenades them with a mandolin version of “Runaway.”
The Hitch: Sambora’s recording sessions proved disastrous: “He was kind of in a bad place at the time,” says our source. “He spent an entire day warning Buzz not to date Denise Richards.”