Keanu Reeves’ career has lasted well over 30 years, with the likes of Speed, The Devil’s Advocate, the Matrix trilogy, the John Wick franchise and Ted “Theodore” Logan highlighting a very crowded resume. Christina Hendricks is a TV warrior with a similarly impressive list of credits, most notably on the acclaimed TV series Mad Men, which netted her six straight Primetime Emmy Award nominations. The pair join the cast of Toy Story 4 as, respectively, a soft-hearted Canadian daredevil and a Godfather-esque doll kingpin. They spoke to the press about the project during the recent junket for the film.
Question: How was it coming on to the Toy Story franchise for the first time?
Keanu Reeves: It was a great honor to be invited. I was really excited; I knew I wasn’t going to be able to work with Tim [Allen] or Tom [Hanks], but I knew that working with Pixar and being with these characters and these performers, that I was getting a chance to be a part of something legendary. And Pixar gave me a great character with Duke Caboom; it was really fun to be a part of this story.
Christina Hendricks: I honestly thought it was a joke that they asked me. I kept thinking there were like three other people up for the same thing. Pixar always has amazing characters, with a lot of depth and nuance.
Q: What was it about your characters that you liked?
CH: Gabby is so lovely. I think when children see this movie, she comes across as sort of like the villain at first. And then you realize that she’s coming from a very loving place. It’s important to say, “maybe you don’t like someone at first, but how did they get there and why are they there?” and understanding their story. I think that ultimately, you have to listen to everyone’s full story before you make a judgment about them… and to hopefully not make a judgment about them. I think that’s the lovely thing that she brings to this part of the story is that everyone comes from a place that’s made them who they are, and you need to listen to that before you can fully understand them.
KR: I think that all of the characters have something we can identify with. Pixar does that so well. There’s so many different kinds of people going through different things, and these characters can embody that. And Duke Caboom just happened to wear his heart on his sleeve, and was super with a big heart, and brave who loved life, and so I think that there’s a bit of Duke Caboom in all of us.
Q: Is there a difference in the way you approach voice acting and the way you perform live action?
KR: In an odd way, you’re doing the same thing. You’re finding the emotions of the character, the timing of the character, and the voice of the character. The thing that’s really cool about the film is how they physically embody Lightyear’s movements and Gabby Gabby’s movements. You use that, and you kind of just feel like you’re finding the emotion, the timing of the character. It’s really the same thing in the way that you’re doing, if you’re not doing an animated project.
Q: Gabby Gabby is a strong figure, but also very vulnerable sometimes. How do you strike the right balance there?
CH: I think that every woman has that vulnerability and strength within her. But I just think like they were saying earlier: all of the characters in this movie are so well rounded and that’s such a sweet thing about this character is she’s not just one thing. She’s got this strength, even though she’s a baby doll. So it was a joy to sort of bring all those sides to her.