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Producer Gayln Susman reveals why Chris Evans was cast as the iconic Buzz instead of Tim Allen in Pixar’s highly-anticipated Lightyear film. Susman also admits that perhaps the reason Chris Evans is so committed to his Buzz Lightyear movie role might be because he knows he has some pretty big shoes to fill, with lots of pressure being directed his way as well.
Lightyear is the latest installment in the Toy Story franchise. It also serves as both a prequel and spinoff to the beloved Pixar movies. The film is set to explore the origin story of Buzz Lightyear, which will serve as the inspiration for Allen’s famous version in the Toy Story universe. Throughout Lightyear, Buzz and a large group of Star Command workers ended up landing on an alien planet. The clan struggles to escape, due to the fact that their hyperspace fuel has been depleted and all their efforts to restore its energy remain futile. Evans stars as the main lead in the upcoming film, alongside Dale Soules, Taika Waititi, Peter Sohn, Uzo Aduba, James Brolin, Mary McDonald-Lewis, Efren Ramirez and Isiah Whitlock Jr. Although the film was announced in late 2020, Lightyear has actually been in development for roughly 6 years now. The Toy Story prequel first got its wings after the release of 2016’s Finding Dory, when the sequel’s co-director, Angus MacLane ended up pitching his concept to Pixar.
MacLane had big dreams of Lightyear being his first solo feature film and marking his directorial debut. Lucky for MacLane, some dreams do come true and Pixar immediately adored his vision. As the film’s release date inches closer and closer, Screen Rant had the opportunity to attend the first-look presentation for Lightyear, which takes a deep dive into the Toy Story spin-off. While discussing the outstanding cast for the film, producer Susman shared just how dedicated and hard-working Evans was in order to make sure he held up to the high standard of the hero he is portraying. She also revealed the reasons the creative team behind the film ultimately felt as though they needed a fresh, new actor to play young Buzz, and why Evans was definitely the man for the job.
“We needed a new voice for Buzz. He needed to have a nice, rich sound, able to be both dramatic and comedic – and most importantly, he needed to be heroic without coming off as arrogant or dense. That’s a tall order, and we immediately knew we had to ask Chris,” Susman stated. “What we didn’t know is that he is a huge animation fan, and would bring the love and passion into the project as well as his myriad acting talents. He even appeared in animation dailies and gave the team a pep talk. It’s really been a wonderful collaboration, and we couldn’t be happier.”
Evans’ casting originally did spark some controversy and criticism amongst long-term fans who believed that Pixar seemingly was writing original star, Allen, completely off. Yet, this is a younger version of Buzz Lightyear that has never been seen before, and therefore the logical rationale to cast someone new who can achieve and bring that new spark to the forefront is valid. Plus, it seems as though Susman has nothing but faith and confidence that Evans was meant to play this role and will do it justice.
Lightyear is scheduled to be released in theaters on June 17, 2022.
EXCLUSIVE: Here’s a hot one. Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) and Chris Evans (Captain America) are set to star in buzzy new movie package Project Artemis, we can reveal, with Ozark star, director and exec-producer Jason Bateman aboard to direct.
That’s not all. Fresh off its Best Picture Oscar win for Coda, Apple has swooped in on the in-demand package in a $100M+ deal. CAA cut the deal on behalf of the producers. This marks another massive purchase for the studio following a year that saw them pay more than $200M for both the Matthew Vaughn package Argyle and the untitled F1 racing pic starring Brad Pitt.
Two-time Oscar nominee Johansson will produce with Jonathan Lia and Keenan Flynn through their These Pictures production company, which commissioned and developed the script. Bateman will produce via his Aggregate Films banner.
Evans has since confirmed Deadline’s scoop on social media.
Evans and Johansson have been looking for projects to team up on following the end of their Avengers days and came close on Ghosted, another hot package that Apple scooped up. Johansson fell off after scheduling conflicts with Ana de Armas stepping in. That film is currently filming but everything works out in the end as the two A-listers and old friends get a second chance at teaming up again.
Apple and Johansson are also teaming up on Bride, which the actress is starring in and producing for Oscar-winning director Sebastián Lelio. That project is currently in development.
Apple, which on Sunday became the first streamer to win Best Picture, is on a roll. Potentially releasing this year are Martin Scorsese’s Killer’s Of The Flower Moon and Taron Egerton starrer Tetris. The company made waves a couple of years ago with the massive deal for Antoine Fuqua package Emancipation, which could also debut in 2022 (though the Will Smith Oscar drama may delay things).
Avengers, Marriage Story and Lost In Translation star Johansson is in post on Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City. Captain America, Avengers and Knives Out star Evans is in post on Pixar’s Lightyear and the Russo’s The Gray Man.
Led by Bateman and Michael Costigan, Aggregate’s slate includes FX’s A Teacher; plus the upcoming FX limited series Under The Banner Of Heaven; Florida Man for Netflix; Lessons In Chemistry for Apple; and the Netflix feature Your Place Or Mine. Ozark launches its final seven episodes this April.
A different kind of reteam is in store for Ghosted, the Apple Original Films romantic action adventure film to be helmed by Dexter Fletcher. Ana de Armas will reteam with her Knives Out co-star Chris Evans in the film. Scarlett Johansson, Evans’ oft-collaborator in the Marvel movies, has amicably exited the picture in what sources describe as a scheduling conflict.
Skydance’s David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Don Granger are producing, along with Jules Daly. Evans will serve as producer and de Armas as an executive producer. The film’s writers, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Deadpool, Zombieland), will also be producers. They developed the project based on an original idea of theirs and preemptively sold it to Skydance.
Apple acquired the high-profile project over the summer. It is described as a high concept romantic action adventure film. The change comes because the intent is to get the picture into production by February, and the timing didn’t work out for Johansson. Ellison led the charge to bring in de Armas, who’s about as hot an actress out there right now after Knives Out and No Time to Die, and Blonde. She most recently starred with Evans and Ryan Gosling in the Joe and Anthony Russo-directed The Gray Man for Netflix. She has also been in talks to play the lead in the John Wick spinoff Ballerina.
Skydance is coming off the Chris Pratt-starrer The Tomorrow War, the Michael B. Jordan-starrer Without Remorse, and has set Victoria Mahoney to direct Old Guard 2. Fletcher directed Rocketman and completed Bohemian Rhapsody.
Apple has several buzzworthy awards season titles including CODA, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Swan Song and Finch, with other big films coming in the Martin Scorsese-directed Killers of the Flower Moon, the Will Smith-Antoine Fuqua film Emancipation, and the Ridley Scott-directed Kitbag with Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon Bonaparte and Jodie Comer as his wife Josephine.
De Armas is repped by CAA and Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks.