In June 2022, many people expressed outrage over the claim that Disney had supposedly “canceled” actor Tim Allen, who voiced the character “Buzz Lightyear” in the original “Toy Story” movies. According to the rumor, the entertainment giant refused to cast Allen in the 2022 “Lightyear” movie due to his conservative political views.
Here’s how the conservative news outlet “Townhall” framed the issue:
While it was true that actor Chris Evans — not Allen — was voicing Buzz in “Lightyear,” Disney had not cut ties with Allen. In fact, Allen and Disney are currently working together on another project, as of this writing. Furthermore, there were several story reasons (not political ones) for a new actor to voice “Buzz Lightyear” in the 2022 movie. Chief among them: “Lightyear” focused on a fictional human character, while the “Toy Story” movies featured a fictional “Buzz Lightyear” toy.
Why Doesn’t Tim Allen Voice Buzz in “Lightyear”?
In 1995, Allen debuted as the voice behind “Buzz Lightyear,” an action-figure toy that came to life when humans left the room, in the Pixar movie “Toy Story.” In the Pixar universe, this action-figure toy was based on a character from an action movie. Pixar’s 2022 film “Lightyear” is that in-universe action movie.
Sound a little confusing? In the opening moments of “Lightyear,” the premise of the movie is explained like this: “In 1995, Andy got a toy. That toy is from his favorite movie. This is that movie.”
In other words, the movie “Lightyear” did not feature the fictional toy that Allen voiced in the original “Toy Story” movies. Evans was voicing a new iteration of the “Buzz Lightyear” character.
“Lightyear” producer Galyn Susman explained:
‘Tim Allen is Buzz Lightyear the toy, and he’s the embodiment of Buzz Lightyear the toy. We weren’t making a Toy Story movie. We’re making Buzz Lightyear’s movie, the Lightyear movie. And so first and foremost, we just needed to have a different person playing that Lightyear, separate from the toy.’
Do Movie Stars Voice Their Merchandise?
In the real world, we can compare this scenario to Batman action figures and Batman movie stars. Actor Robert Pattinson played the caped crusader in the 2022 movie “The Batman,” but that doesn’t mean he provided the voice for the latest “Batman” toys on store shelves. In fact, while Allen’s co-star Tom Hanks voiced the character of “Woody” in the “Toy Story” movies, it was actually Hanks’ brother, Jim, who provided the voice of “Woody” for the real-world action figures.
Allen provided the voice for some “Buzz Lightyear” toys, but so have a number of other entertainers — such as actor Pat Fraley.
Fraley said in a 2019 interview:
So, for nine years it was one of the most lucrative roles I ever did. I did all the toys and there were a lot of them. That’s how that went down the pike. Eventually, they got rid of me and I figured they found someone better than me. I was a close match but not perfect. No, my replacement wasn’t better than me but I bet he was cheaper.
So, why didn’t Tim Allen do the voice of Buzz Lightyear for all of those toys instead?
We reached out to Disney to see if Allen was voicing new “Buzz Lightyear” toys, and we will update this article accordingly.
Did Disney ‘Cancel’ Allen?
As this rumor circulated on social media, many people claimed that Allen was the victim of “cancel culture” and that Disney was refusing to work with the actor due to his conservative politics. But that wasn’t the case. In fact, as of this writing, Allen and Disney were working together on an upcoming television series based on “The Santa Clause” movies.
Here’s a synopsis of the new Disney+ series:
In the Disney+ series, Scott Calvin is on the brink of his 65th birthday and realizing that he can’t be Santa forever. He’s starting to lose a step in his Santa duties, and more importantly, he’s got a family who could benefit from a life in the normal world, especially his two kids who have grown up at the Pole. With a lot of elves, children, and family to please, Scott sets out to find a suitable replacement Santa while preparing his family for a new adventure in a life south of the pole.
While Allen did not voice Buzz Lightyear in the 2022 “Lightyear” movie, there was no evidence that Disney refused him the role, or ended its working relationship with Allen, because of his political beliefs. Rather, the film featured a version of the fictional character that was different from the original “Buzz Lightyear” figure in the “Toy Story” films, and a producer said they “needed to have a different person” playing the 2022 movie’s version. Also, Allen was working with Disney on a separate project.
“Buzz Lightyear Voices (Toy Story).” Behind The Voice Actors, https://www.behindthevoiceactors.com/characters/Toy-Story/Buzz-Lightyear/. Accessed 16 June 2022.
“Weary Lightyear Director Tries Once Again to Explain How Real Lightyear Is or Isn’t.” The A.V. Club, 16 June 2022, https://www.avclub.com/lightyear-director-angus-maclane-describes-how-real-the-1849068927.
Cavacini, Michael. “Legendary Pat Fraley Tells All.” Michael Cavacini, 1 Nov. 2019, https://michaelcavacini.com/2019/11/01/legendary-pat-fraley-tells-all/.
Johnson, Allen. “Why ‘Lightyear’ Director Recast Iconic Role of Buzz with Chris Evans for New Pixar Film.” Datebook SF Chronicle, https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/movies-tv/why-lightyear-director-recast-iconic-role-of-buzz-with-chris-evans-for-new-pixar-film. Accessed 16 June 2022.
Lightyear Creator Breaks Down Why Tim Allen Wasn’t Asked To Return In New Pixar Movie – The Illuminerdi. 15 June 2022, https://www.theilluminerdi.com/2022/06/15/lightyear-why-tim-allen-recast/.
Scott, A. O. “‘Lightyear’ Review: Infinite Buzz.” The New York Times, 14 June 2022. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/14/movies/lightyear-review.html.
“Tim Allen Returns to the Red Suit for The Santa Clause, a Limited Series for Disney+.” D23, 14 Jan. 2022, https://d23.com/just-announced-tim-allen-returns-to-the-red-suit-for-the-santa-clause-a-limited-series-for-disney/.