When Pixar pitched the role of Forky to Tony Hale, the character was described as a spork having an existential crisis. “I was like, ‘Game on. I’m in,’” says Hale (Veep, Arrested Development). He leaped at the opportunity to voice a new toy. “When a movement like Toy Story comes to you to do a voice, there’s no second thought,” he says. “Everything Pixar has created is always fresh.” He’s sure to make a impression.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How long ago did you record?
TONY HALE: I think it was in the summer of 2017. It’s weird because they ask you, and you say, “Of course.” But then you go up to Pixar, and that’s just a creative wonderland.
It’s an amazing environment to work in, and you say, “Oh, wow. So I am being a voice in a Pixar movie. This is cool.” Then time goes by, and it hasn’t really hit me. Then I saw the trailer, and I thought, “Wait a second. That’s my voice in the middle of a Toy Story trailer!”
What was the process of finding the character’s voice?
It doesn’t hurt that most of the characters I play are pretty confused. [Laughs] They’re all lost and haven’t found their place in the world. Forky is no exception. His understanding of his purpose is that he’s made to eat food and then go into the trash, and it’s Woody that says, “No, you have a bigger purpose.” If you think about that, it’s a beautiful statement. [The filmmakers and I] talked a lot about Forky’s aimlessness and how new everything is to him. He doesn’t know anything about being a toy and all of the rules of that world.
What is the experience of being in the booth?
I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of a lot of animation, but this was completely different. There’s a family-like energy to it. Everyone is in the room with you, and it’s very communal. Whatever kind of ad-libbing you gave — even if it was stupid — you felt the freedom to put it out there and try different things. That’s how the character and the performance morph into what they’re supposed to be. Pixar definitely had a distinct idea for Forky, but we all came in not really knowing what he’s going to be. You trust the process.
But this is — as you say — a spork with an existential crisis. How do you find the relatable part of that?
Not to sound too existential, I can think of so many times in my life when I didn’t know what the hell was going on: “We’re spinning on a planet?!” If we’re honest, we’ve all had the same questions that Forky has. “What the hell is going on?” “I don’t fit in.” For me, purpose is a lot simpler than we make it out to be. And Woody tells Forky, “Being a toy means you’re worthy to be loved.” I think that is really powerful.
Right. It’s when we get caught up in what we’re “supposed to be” that things get complicated.
Totally. But also, let’s remember that we’re talking about a spork. [Laughs]
Be sure to pick up your copy of EW’s Ultimate Guide to Toy Story on newsstands now.