Next month our favorite toys return for a brand new adventure. Bonnie is now six years old and one day at school she makes a new friend as a craft project. He’s made out of a spork, and put together with a pipe cleaner for arms, and wiki sticks for his brows and mouth. Bonnie’s googly eyed creation and her newest toy is named Forky.
Except, Forky doesn’t think he’s a toy. Forky doesn’t think he belongs in the bedroom with the other toys and wants to get away. During my visit to Pixar last month, I got to see how the animator searched for a spork and found ways to make a spork expressive – not an easy task – and how his own child helped him with the inspiration behind creating Forky.
Animator Claudio De Oliveira talked about how Forky came to life. “I had to explore what Forky was about so I took it home to make some myself.” De Oliveira says, his first task was to find a spork. He jokes, “It was a little hard to find sporks. I went to a pizza joint and found some there. I’d put glue on the googly eyes and one would slide down. It was a good thing because it showed me how we could fuse life into it.” He added, “I made a few and had people took them to their desks and play with them. There were some missteps along the way, but I learned how it could come to life.”
Before De Oliveira even began to animate Forky, he looked to actor Tony Hale who voices Forky for inspiration. “I felt the weight of the toy and how we’d animate it as if it were a kid playing with it. I spent a lot of time looking at the googly eyes and looked at Tony Hale because he showed us a lot of ways to play with the limitations we had with the character. He was showing us the limitations he had with his dialogue.”
Aside from inspiration from Hale, De Oliviera explains his source of inspiration, and who better to influence a cartoon character, designed by a child than his own daughter. “I went home and asked my kid to build Forky together. It was great because working with my three-year-old daughter. She was really excited about it. It was part of the feeling that I felt about animating him.”
In Toy Story 4, it’s hard not to fall in love with Forky as he first tries to escape the other toys and comes to grips with his own existence. De Oliveira adds there’s something extra special about this character that sets him apart from all other Toy Story characters. “He’s such a unique character because when you see him in the theater, kids can go home and make their own Forky and that’s different to the one they buy in the store.” He adds, “It’s one they’ve made, and that relationship with them is going to be different. It shows how much you care because you’ve put your own touches on it and there’s your own digital imprint on it.”
Toy Story 4 is released on June 21.