Entertainment Movies Tom Hanks spills on Toy Story 4’s strict publicity rules

Tom Hanks spills on Toy Story 4’s strict publicity rules

Tom Hanks Woody London June 16
Tom Hanks goes large with Woody at the Toy Story 4 European premiere in London on June 16. Photo: Getty
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After decades of sticking to the company line during interviews for movies, Tom Hanks went rogue and spilled secrets about Toy Story 4’s strict publicity rules.

In an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Hanks gave a sneak peek of how stars keep confidential movie information under wraps while promoting something – they have cheat sheets.

“Do you know how many executives right now want to kick my ass because I brought this out?” the Oscar winner said on the show, producing several pieces of folded-up paper.

“I have these talking points that Disney gives you at the beginning of the press junket thing,” Hanks said, pointing out their authentic provenance.

“Look at how many times I’ve studied them. I spilled some tomato juice on it at one point at breakfast the other day.”

Kimmel, 51, asked 62-year-old Hanks, who has voiced Woody for all four instalments, if the cheat sheets were things he was supposed to say or supposed to steer clear of.

Bo Peep Tom Hanks
With Bo Peep and her new bloomers in London on June 16. Photo: Getty

“Both, my friend, both,” Hanks said, then launched into reading from the ‘spoilers/what to avoid’ section.

On the list of things he should talk about: Toy Story’s Bo Peep. In an image reboot, her original very feminine pink dress has been replaced by a pair of blue culottes.

Hanks was instructed to insist that while Bo (Annie Potts) was “a strong character” in her frilly pink days, “her recent experience perhaps made her stronger, but she was never a weak character”.

He said he was told “Don’t discuss Woody” and “Please don’t share that …”.

Instead of finishing sentences with words, he hummed a tune.

Hanks revealed that Disney also provides stars with “sample questions” to prepare them for interview, chiding Kimmel that he had “yet to ask” them.

“This is both for me and Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyear),” Hanks said reading an example question: “Can you talk about how Buzz is learning to listen to his inner voice?”

Another question probed Woody’s reunion with former flame Bo.

Kimmel revealed he’d once been given PR cheat sheets for a project, but “I laughed really hard at it and I never looked at it again”.

Hanks stuck to the PR script by praising Toy Story 4 for adding Tony Hale (Veep), Keanu Reeves (John Wick 3) and Carl Weathers (Rocky) to the cast, and said the new film, which premieres in Australia on June 20 (Thursday), may be the best yet.

“I know it sounds ridiculous because I’m in it, but it’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my life.”

In reviews published last week, critics didn’t universally agree with Hanks’ assessment, although many said the film mostly has the same magic and messages as its predecessors.

Toy Story 4 follows on from the third film, which saw Woody and Buzz in the hands of new friend Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw). She makes a new toy, Forky (Tony Hale) who is a rival for her love when all the toys take a holiday with Bonnie’s family.

The BBC’s Nicholas Barber said “If Toy Story 4 doesn’t tarnish the series, it doesn’t polish it either,” adding that “It’s a smaller, less moving” version of the last film with a muddled message.

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw said the franchise has achieved more gender balance with “artless persuasiveness” but that Toy Story 4 is “fundamentally repeating” itself: “Repeating characters, ideas and plotlines – even if it does it with buoyancy and charm.”

Indiewire’s David Ehrlich said Forky is the “beating heart” that the films have been striving for, and called the story “paced to perfection”.

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