Entertainment

Trash or toy? Bringing Forky to life, in English and French, for Toy Story 4

The latest film of Pixar's beloved Toy Story series follows cowboy toy Woody as he attempts to safeguard Forky, their owner's newest plaything. Tony Hale and French Canadian comic François Bellefeuille trade notes on how they voiced the unusual new character.

'I have to be at least as good as he is,' Quebec's François Bellefeuille says of English counterpart Tony Hale

In Toy Story 4, Bonnie makes a new friend — literally. When Forky — Bonnie’s craft-project-turned-toy — declares himself trash, Woody tries to show him why he should embrace being a toy. (Disney/Pixar)

"How do you say 'I'm trash' in French?"

"Je suis un déchet." 

"I love it."

That's the the kind of banter you get when Tony Hale meets François Bellefeuille. The pair are the English- and French-language voice actors, respectively, behind Forky, the unusual new character introduced in Toy Story 4.

Hitting theatres this week, the latest instalment of the beloved Pixar film franchise follows cowboy head toy Woody (Tom Hanks) as he attempts to safeguard Forky, their kindergarten-aged owner's newest — and self-made — plaything. There's an existential crisis running throughout the film: trash or toy?

Bonnie creates Forky from craft supplies Woody retrieves from the kindergarten trash can. (Disney/Pixar)

"He's very simple," Hale, best known for roles in comedy TV juggernauts like Veep and Arrested Development, says about the "blank slate" that is his character.

"I love how Forky is just trying to question everything. Everything is new. The world is very, very new."

The character adds an unusual perspective to the series, according to Bellefeuille, who voices "Fourchette" in the film's French-language version.

"He doesn't want to be part of the gang, so that's something that's really new in Toy Story," says the Quebec comedian.

"It's a beautiful story," Hale adds.

Hale and Bellefeuille trade notes on bringing Forky/Fourchette to life.

Actor Tony Hale and Quebec comedian François Bellefeuille trade notes on bringing Forky/Fourchette to life for Toy Story 4. 2:28

While Hale has experience with voice acting — from The Angry Birds Movie to episodes of Rick and Morty as well as Disney fare like Doc McStuffins and Jake and the Never Land Pirates  Toy Story 4 was a first for Bellefeuille, one of the Canadian stand-up comics recently featured on the Netflix special Comedians of the World.

"I was following him, so he was my inspiration," said Bellefeuille, who voiced Fourchette after watching footage of Hale as Forky.

"I was stressed at the beginning. I was like 'Whoa, I have to be at least as good as he is.'"

An animated film voice actor creating a dub in another language has a tough job, Hale acknowledged.

"When you [voice a character] initially, you kind of have the freedom to play," the American actor explained. But when creating a performance in another language, "what you have to do is kind of fit into a time frame...that's not easy at all."

The two are happy with the reception the project has received and still pinching themselves that they're now part of the Toy Story universe.

Woody tries to convince Forky of his importance. (Disney/Pixar)

"A lot of my friends have been watching all the movies of Toy Story: they're attached to Woody and all those characters. So it's one of that projects I did that impresses everybody," Bellefeuille noted.

When the first Toy Story was released in November 1995, Hale had just moved to New York to become an actor, he recalled.

"I remember seeing it and the animation was on another level. I would never have thought that one day I'd be associated with it. It's pretty crazy."

With files from Tashauna Reid

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.