For 25 years across four Toy Story movies, along with a number of shorts and video games, Tim Allen has been the voice of Buzz Lightyear. So when Chris Evans was cast to take on the role in Pixar’s spinoff film, there’s understandably been some confusion. As friend of Tim Allen, Patricia Heaton, and other fans criticize the studio for recasting the role, there’s a solid explanation by the filmmakers as to why the Toy Story actor is not involved in Lightyear.
On Tuesday, Patricia Heaton took to Twitter to blast Pixar for not casting Tim Allen in Lightyear, saying the decision “castrate[s]” the beloved character and some other fans rushed to her side. Check out the Lightyear director, Angus MacLane’s reason why he chose Chris Evans for the lead role:
While speaking to Vanity Fair, the Lightyear filmmaker shared that the decision to cast Chris Evans was an intentional one in order to position the story apart from the Toy Story character. And as the movie has been promoted, Lightyear is not about the toy from the Toy Story films, it’s the movie Andy saw that made him want the Buzz toy alongside his entire room redecoration that spited Woody in the original 1995 movie.
So while it may look like Chris Evans has replaced Tim Allen in the Buzz Lightyear role for Lightyear, they are playing different roles across films with different tones. One of them is a sci-fi action lead (Evans) and the other is a comedic toy character that riffs with Tom Hanks’ Woody.
Additionally, as Chris Evans shared with CinemaBlend in our Lightyear interviews, when it comes to playing Captain America versus toy versions of the Marvel character, he does not voice the toy versions. Having that experience as an already iconic hero actually helped Evans wrap his head around playing a different voice to the character rather than Tim Allen’s voice.
When the Lightyear casting news was initially revealed, some internet chatter believed that the decision was a result of Tim Allen’s conservative political leanings, which Heaton has as well. However, Tim Allen and Disney have not cut ties. The actor is set to reprise his role as Santa Clause in a Disney+ series after starring in three The Santa Clause movies between 1994 and 2006.
Lightyear is now playing in theaters and the Toy Story movies are free to stream with a Disney+ subscription.