“The Dinosaur Was Mine”

I’m currently reading this interview with Joss Whedon that was conducted just before the release of Serenity in 2005 (that’s almost eight years ago, fans of feeling old!) and thought maybe some of you might be interested in checking it out if, like me, you’re curious to know exactly what Whedon’s involvement in the original Toy Story script was. Turns out it was pretty big – including creating Rex the dinosaur(!) – which as a Whedonite makes me feel even more vindicated and smug than usual.

And they sent me the script and it was a shambles, but the story that Lasseter had come up with was, you know, the toys are alive and they conflict. The concept was gold. It was just right there. And that’s the dream job for a script doctor: a great structure with a script that doesn’t work. A script that’s pretty good? Where you can’t really figure out what’s wrong, because there’s something structural that’s hard to put your finger on? Death. But a good structure that just needs a new body on it is the best. So I was thrilled.

I went up to Pixar [the Northern California-based animation studio which produced “Toy Story”], and stayed there for weeks and wrote for, I think, four months before it got greenlit, and completely overhauled the script. There was some very basic things in there that stayed in there. The characters were pretty much in place except for the dinosaur, which was mine. I took out a lot of extraneous stuff, including the neighbor giving the kid a bad haircut before he leaves. There was a whole lot of extraneous stuff.

He also discusses, among other things, the screenwriter’s role within an animated movie, which contains some interesting insights. If you’re into that kind of thing.

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