Why Tim Allen Was Passed Over by Pixar for Chris Evans in Buzz Lightyear Movie
If Buzz Lightyear was brought to life in a live-action movie, Captain America star Chris Evans would no doubt be a top choice for the job. That's just one of the reasons why Lightyear director Angus MacLane went with Evans over Tim Allen, who voiced the toy version of the character in the Toy Story films. Evans' casting was announced back in December 2020, when Pixar announced Lightyear during Disney's investor day event.
In an interview with Collider after the first Lightyear trailer was released earlier this week, MacLane said he wanted the film to have a "gravitas to it and a seriousness to it, but also have an actor who could bring comedy with that seriousness." Evans was the only choice for him to accomplish that, the Finding Dory co-director explained.
"It was very clear from the get-go," MacLane said. "It was like, 'If you were gonna make a legitimate sci-fi film about Buzz Lightyear, who would you get? Well, Chris Evans.' You need someone that has that star power. If it had to be live-action, who would do it? He can do both. Although that chin would be so weird in live-action. You could never get around that."
MacLane went on to call Evans an "amazing" partner. "He totally got the material right away and felt the sense of responsibility to figure out the translation to the character, for this larger context of this sci-fi movie and really deliver on it. He's just been a wonderful creative partner in the whole process," he said.
Back in December, Evans posted a viral tweet explaining the point of Lightyear, clarifying that he wasn't playing the toy version of Buzz. "And just to be clear, this isn't Buzz Lightyear the toy. This is the origin story of the human Buzz Lightyear that the toy is based on," he wrote. When the trailer was released, Evans said he was "covered in goosebumps" after seeing it, especially accompanied by a David Bowie song.
Lightyear is supposed to be the movie that the Buzz Lightyear toy is based on. "'Set in the world of Toy Story' is kind of weird. Another way to get at it, it's a straightforward sci-fi action film about the Buzz Lightyear character," MacLane explained to Entertainment Weekly. "In the Toy Story universe, it would be like a movie that maybe Andy would have seen, that would have made him want a Buzz Lightyear figure."
Allen voiced the toy version of Buzz in the four Toy Story movies, as well as the shorts Hawaiian Vacation, Small Fry, and Partysaurus Rex. He also voiced Buzz in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins, the direct-to-video movie leading into the 2000-2001 animated series Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. Patrick Warburton voiced the character in the main Star Command series, which is still inexplicably unavailable on Disney+. Allen has also worked with Disney on many other projects throughout his career, including the Santa Clause movies. During the final seasons of his ABC/Fox sitcom Last Man Standing, Disney acquired the studio behind that show, 20th Television. Lightyear opens on June 17, 2022.