‘Reach for the Stars’
‘There’s a snake in my boots’
That’s what you expect me to say isn’t it? The standard phrases that spew out of my mouth giving you familiarity throughout all the films we made. Not sure what we’re up to right now, is it three or four? To be honest I never expected them to go on so long. Although they’ve given me enough money to live the lifestyle that I’m used to, the part really doesn’t really push me very far.
I remember going to be cast for the role originally, the excitement and apprehension. I’d had small parts in a couple of TV series playing the part of a cowboy. You know it’s funny when you look back but I went originally for the part of Buzz. I sort of thought that cowboys were old hat by that time and didn’t want to get typecast. Anyway I though the audition had gone well. There was this big headed lad there, all jaw and emptiness. I was outside the room when he went in for his reading. I had to stifle the laughter as I heard him struggling with the lines, yet he walked out smiling as though he’d given the performance of a lifetime.
A few weeks later I heard back from the studio that they’d like me to play the part of Woody. I was a little narked to say the least but it was work and I’d not had any real work for a while. I was temporarily working as a signpost on a roundabout holding a sign advertising fresh pizza, to make ends meet if you get my drift. They sent me the script and I have to say the idea of playing a toy was I thought a challenge.
It seemed to be aimed at children, the little brats, but from some of the jokes in it I knew it would be appreciated by the adults as well. That first read through the script is always exciting. Imagining the words come to life. You know instantly whether it’s a pup or a hit. It seemed different enough to maybe make a mark.
The first day on set is always a big time. You find out what other actors have been hired, have a bit of a bonding session and start to read through the scripts. It’s a time when you get to find out whether the script and cast will gel. No matter how good the script is, if the actors don’t cut the mustard then the whole things falls in on itself like a house of cards. I think the agency had done well. There were a couple of old soaks brought in, names from the past to play Ham and Bo. Great character actors that would be fun to work with and provide us with light relief.
That first morning there was one of them missing though, Buzz hadn’t turned up. I was wondering who had beat me to the part when in the door came the chin. I thought at first he was the sandwich boy, but the director introduced him as Buzz. The bloke who’d cocked up the audition had somehow managed to land one the the prized parts.
Buzz certainly had charisma, in bucket loads, but he wasn’t what you’d call intelligent. The part could have been written for him. Buzz in the film is a harmless oaf who has little brains and even less clue of what’s really happening. In real life Buzz was the same, of which more later.
The first run through of the script went Ok, although Buzz had problems with ‘To Infinity and Beyond’ I mean what the hell, he struggled with pronouncing 'infinity'. It actually took him most of the day to master it. God knows if he knew what it meant.
Bo was beautiful. She really knocked my socks off not just with her body but the voice. She had that type of lilt to it that made my toes curl up with that accent. If I was a dog, like slinky, my tongue would have been hanging all the way down my body. Even though on film she came me the big come on, I never stood a chance. Bo only had time for her sheep who she worshiped. Still just to be in her company was awesome.
The joker in our pack was Ham. That pig sure knew how to party. Never let it be said that the pig ever let us down. They say bacon goes with everything, and that pig would go with anything, if you get my drift. I saw things that made even my eyes pop out. Ham was a catalyst for all the fun we had. He'd just open his mouth and we'd start laughing, what a guy.
I have to say though, the person I had more fun with in that first film was Spud, Mr Potato Head. In that film, Spud was always onto me for not liking Buzz but off the set we got on like a house on fire. He's a great character and what he can pull out of his rear is incredible. I mean during one drunken night out on the town he pulled out a … Well better not mention it here, don't want his lawyers giving me a cease and desist order. In the later films he met his wife and she kind off tempered him. He was head over heels in love with her, a chemistry which came across in the films, I think. They were adorable and were genuinely in love with each other.
I couldn't not mention the alien guys. The things they could do with their mouths were incredible. The girls we met in town really went for them in a big way. All they have to do is say 'Oooo the claw' and the girls swoon over them like flies around dung. Those guys sure had a great times exploiting their fame. However there was always a tinge of sadness to them. Millions of miles from their home planet, always thinking of their loved ones. They lived life to the full, but it has to be said that I wouldn't like to have been so far from home.
Rex and Slinky were also great to work with. I lost count at the laughs we got by Rex suddenly appearing behind a posse of fans and roaring at them. They really wet their knickers at times. Rex though was brilliant and not aggressive at all. I wouldn't say I'd trust him when he was hungry but he was harmless enough. Slinky was another character. A bit morose at times, always down on his luck but he had a heart of gold. He'd bend right over to help you, luckily the spring helped him in that respect.
So there we were at the first reading. The cast together for the first time. Little did we realise that we'd be on the threshold of one of the most successful film franchises of all time.