Get Tickets LIGHTYEAR opens June 17th.
Despite its heartbreaking effect on Woody’s ego, it is easy to understand why little Andy became such a huge fan of his Buzz Lightyear action figure after receiving it as a birthday gift. It is also easy to understand why Tim Allen’s iconic role is one of the few TOY STORY characters who went on to star on his own animated series, called “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.”
Well, the Space Ranger himself is back — and now voiced by Chris Evans — in a new adventure to infinity and beyond that does not take place in the TOY STORY universe, but in Buzz’s own universe. The characters first cinematic solo flick, which is coming to theatres Friday, June 17, is also introducing a few new allies to help defeat a familiar foe. Let’s meet all of Pixar’s LIGHTYEAR characters, starting with the title hero whom you, sort of, know already.
You have met the sentient action figure in TOY STORY, but the time has come for audiences of all ages to meet the “real” Buzz Lightyear, whose attempt to correct a mistake that left Star Command marooned sends him to a bleak future in LIGHTYEAR. Taking over voice acting duties from Tim Allen — who played his original plastic iteration in the TOY STORY franchise — is Chris Evans, who captures all of the same heroic qualities that he is known for — such as his heart and determination — and even his charming smugness, while also adding a unique spin that a former Captain America actor would have no problem achieving.
In the trailers for LIGHTYEAR, we learn that Buzz Lightyear’s signature catchphrase from TOY STORY — “To infinity, and beyond!” — is actually a motto that the character shares with one of his best friends and most trusted comrades, Commander Alisha Hawthorne. The high-ranking Star Command member is voiced by Uzo Aduba — the Emmy-winning star of Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black,” Showtime’s IN TREATMENT and the historical FX miniseries “Mrs. America,” whose previous voice acting work includes 2017’s MY LITTLE PONY: THE MOVIE, Cartoon Network’s hit fantasy comedy Steven Universe and 3 Below: Tales of Arcadia as the villainous Colonel Kubritz.
In his attempt to figure out a way for Star Command to return home safely, Buzz ends up getting sent through a wormhole that takes him more than six decades into the future, where he becomes acquainted with Alisha Hawthorne’s granddaughter, Izzy, who wishes she could be a rookie for Star Command. She certainly seems brave and ambitious enough to be considered for a commanding position. Making her Pixar movie debut as the voice of Izzy in LIGHTYEAR is Emmy winning actor, producer and singer Keke Palmer, who most recently lent her voice to the Disney+ original animated series “The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder” and can also be seen in live-action this summer when Jordan Peele’s NOPE arrives in July.
Also hitting theatres in July is THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER — written, directed and starring Taika Waititi, who is also making his Pixar movie debut with LIGHTYEAR. The New Zealand-born actor and filmmaker is the voice of Mo Morrison — the more cautious and accident-prone member of Izzy’s crew of almost Space Ranger rookies who initially assumed Star Command would be some fun boot camp situation before learning he was sorely mistaken.
The eldest and easily the gruffest member of Izzy’s crew is Darby Steel, who is also the team’s resident explosives expert, noted for her ability to gather an average of three objects and make an impromptu bomb out of them. Voicing the character in LIGHTYEAR is Dale Soules, who is also known as Uzo Aduba’s “Orange is the New Black” co-star and from the 2009 Academy AwardⓇ nominee THE MESSENGER, 2018’s LGBTQ+ coming-of-age drama THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST and a guest spot on Amazon Prime’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” in 2019.
Another one of the high-ranking Star Command officials that Buzz Lightyear would report to in his present day is Commander Burnside, whose exposure in the promotional material for LIGHTYEAR has been limited so far, but indicates he may have a bit of an adversarial relationship with the title character. Voicing the commander is Isaiah Whitlock Jr., who is known for lending his voice to Netflix’s animated series “BoJack Horseman,” starring in Spike Lee movies like 2018 OscarⓇ winner BLACKKKLANSMAN and, especially, as Clay Davis on HBO’s “The Wire.”
In LIGHTYEAR, Buzz is mandatorily appointed a personal companion robot to provide him with emotional support and other assistance in the form of a talkative and eccentric cat named Sox, who seems to regret joining the Space Ranger on the dangerous mission that takes them to the future. Voicing the funny feline is Peter Sohn, who has not only voiced several other characters in Pixar movies — including Squishy in MONSTERS UNIVERSITY or Ciccio in LUCA — but is also a veteran animator at the studio who made his own feature-length debut as a director in 2015 with THE GOOD DINOSAUR and has a follow-up coming in 2023 called ELEMENTAL.
In the thrilling opening scene of the acclaimed 1999 sequel to TOY STORY, which really turned out to be Wallace Shawn’s Rex playing a video game starring his buddy, we became acquainted with the Darth Vader to Buzz Lightyear’s Luke Skywalker — the ruthless, partially robotic Emperor Zurg, who was then voiced by the film’s writer and Pixar legend Andrew Stanton. The galactic tyrant will return in LIGHTYEAR, now voiced by James Brolin of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR and TRAFFIC fame, which is especially fitting since Chris Evans previously faced off against his son, Thanos actor Josh Brolin, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
These are not the only characters you should expect to meet in Pixar’s latest collaboration with Disney, but they are sure to be the most memorable. Who knows? Maybe Buzz Lightyear is only the first character from the TOY STORY franchise to become the lead character of their own movie.
Get Tickets LIGHTYEAR opens June 17th.