Yesterday (April 6, 2017) the world of comedy lost a legend as Don Rickles died in his Beverly Hills home at the age of 90. In addition to the many decades of laughs he provided for fans around the globe, he also voiced one of the most iconic Pixar characters — Mr. Potato Head.
It wasn’t a stretch for the comedian, known sarcastically as Mr. Warmth, to voice the sharp-witted spud. Don built his career delivering insults with a touch of warmth which you couldn’t help but laugh at.
Did you know that one of Mr. Potato Head’s famed lines in Toy Story stemmed from his comedy act? When he utters, “What are you looking at you hockey puck?!”, it was an actual callback to his stand-up days. When an audience member would get a little unruly, they might be met with the “you hockey puck” quip (Wikipedia).
TOY STORY 4 INCLUSION?
With the sadness of this news, we cannot help but think of his returning role in Toy Story 4. What will this mean for the rowdy russet? Will his character return? Will Pixar be able to use pre-recorded lines from previous films, or did he already begin recording lines like Tom Hanks? (Don had confirmed his return to the fourth film in July of 2015.)
UPDATED April 8 —The Hollywood Reporter contacted a representative of Don’s and inquired if he had recorded any of his lines. It was confirmed that he had not recorded any lines.
Rickles, though, had not yet recorded new material for Toy Story 4, his rep confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. Pixar has been doing re-writes on the film, and Rickles had not yet been called in to record his voice tracks for Mr. Potato Head’s role in the fourth film.
Of course, with the recent inclusion of Martin Hynes to the TS4 writing team, we’re not sure how much of the script might be in the process of being reworked — which could mean larger changes for Mr. Potato Head’s character as well.
With the film being centered around the love story of Woody and Bo Peep, it’s unclear how much of a role Mr. Potato Head will have, but you can guarantee that his hilarious one-liners will be prominent in at least a few scenes.
We believe it would be unlikely that Pixar could find another actor who would have the same vocal pacing and tone so a replacement actor wouldn’t be assumed in our mind. This isn’t the first time Pixar has been faced with the delicate task of a vocal actor’s passing as Jim Varney (Slinky Dog), Paul Newman (Doc Hudson), and George Carlin (Fillmore), to name a few, have likewise passed between films.
We are deeply saddened by this news as Don’s comedy and true warmth brought laughs to so many — his family, loved ones, and the world has truly lost a legend.
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