Toy Story 4 will reportedly have to move forward without any recorded dialogue from Don Rickles. The comedy world lost a giant on Thursday when the legendary insult comic passed away at the age of 90. A long-standing iconic, with Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story in 1995 Rickles established himself as a distinctive voice for an entire generation of moviegoers when he portrayed a wise-cracking version of the iconic Mr. Potato Head toy. He reprised the role in the two sequels made thus far.
Rickles was slated to return as Mr. Potato Head for Toy Story 4. Unfortunately, the script is still in the re-write phase and the movie remains mostly in pre-production; while Tom Hanks reportedly already recorded many of his lines, the late Rickles is one of the voice actors who has not yet recorded any dialogue for the sequel.
A rep confirmed to THR on Saturday that Rickles had not yet been called in to record for Mr. Potato Head prior to his death on Thursday. According to the report, it’s unknown how big of a role Mr. Potato Head was expected to play in Toy Story 4 but the movie could still include the character using prerecorded dialogue. THR cites Furious 7’s use of existing footage of Paul Walker, as well as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s de-aging of Carrie Fisher, as an example of what Toy Story 4 could do with Rickles as Mr. Potato Head.
It’s also possible that Toy Story 4 could simply recast the role, a significantly easier task for an animated movie than it is in live-action. It would not be the first time that the Toy Story franchise has done this. Jim Varney voiced the Slinky Dog character in the first two Toy Story movies in 1995 and 1999 before his death in 2000 at the age of 50. For 2010’s Toy Story 3 Blake Clark (a close friend of Varney) replaced the late actor.
The loss of Rickles is certainly monumental for the Toy Story franchise and for the comedy world as a whole. Director John Lasseter, who also helmed the first two Toy Story movies (and will make the fourth with co-director Josh Cooley), described Rickles in a statement as “a comic genius, and here at Pixar we were honored to also call him a friend.” His biting humor was a perfect fit for the character and was on full display in each of his three appearances in the Toy Story series. The character may still be well-written in Toy Story 4, but Rickles’ distinctive voice will surely be missed.
Toy Story 4 recently had its release date switched with The Incredibles 2, so there’s a little leeway time for Pixar to weigh up their choices. The series wouldn’t be the same without Mr. Potato Head’s presence, so Toy Story 4 is likely going to try to find a way to effectively recreate the character.
Toy Story 4 is expected to be released on June 21, 2019.