This past week, I had the opportunity to attend a press junket for Disney Pixar’s TOY STORY 4. The highly anticipated fourth film in the franchise centered around a new toy called “Forky” who joins Woody and the gang on a road trip alongside old and new friends where it is revealed just how big the world can be for a toy. During the junket, we had the opportunity to speak with Japanese-American actress Ally Maki about her experience voicing the newest character in the series, Officer Giggles McDimples.
To voice a character in the Toy Story franchise has been a dream come true for actress Ally Maki. As the smallest toy in the entire series, Officer Giggles McDimples is a ball of energy and sass that fans will easily come to adore. “To be the tiniest character to exist within the universe is really awesome. And then, to be the first Asian American female within this universe is so incredible. To be a woman of color within this universe is really incredible,” explains Maki. “The new character in [TOY STORY] 4 is, I mean, it’s been mind-blowing to me at every level.” Maki further explained the importance of growing up with these films throughout major portions of her own life. “I was the age group that directly aligned with Toy Story 1, 2, and 3. I was about nine when the first one came out and then high school, college, and now [TOY STORY] 4 is just me as an adult, so it’s really, really special.”
We first meet Giggles McDimples when checking in on Bo Peep after she finds Woody in a park. We quickly learn of the close friendship between Bo Peep and Giggles, cementing the expansion of roles for women in the series. When speaking on the backstory of Bo Peep and Giggles, Ally explained, “I just think they are so wonderful together and I love that Bo Peep was brought back fully fledged, awesome, and incredible. She’s got her staff now and she’s 100% truly herself. She’s obviously found herself out on the road alone without Buzz, Woody, and the crew. She has become truly her authentic self and I think the same for Giggle. She is 100% authentically real and not afraid to be herself and I think together it’s this ultimate superpower and superduoness.” She goes on to further explain, “The way that [Pixar] has brought female friendship and strength to the franchise, especially to the young girls who are watching these characters and saying, ‘Oh, I have a Bo. Oh, I have a Giggle,’ means a lot.”
Once the animators started compiling images of what Giggle was to look like, Ally had the chance to see the process of her character come to life. “The first thing they showed me was a little thing of [Giggle’s] just moving around. It was just her, there was no scenery, there was just a white background and they had dubbed my lines from Wrecked, the show that I was on at that time, onto her. It was just so weird because it was this other character that I had played now merged on what would be Giggle McDimples. When I saw that, it was very freeing because I could talk like me. They didn’t need any crazy character, I could just be myself. So the first time I had seen her, at that time, she was still in a little pink and purple dress.”
Ally further explained that throughout the process of developing Giggle, the character eventually transformed into Officer McDimples. “The very first iteration they give me this black notebook. It felt like a Pixar CIA notebook and you would open it and it had drawings of [Giggle] in different ways. She had a little pink bow and a little pink and purple dress at that time, but she still had the same feisty spirit. Then over the months, I remember I came back and they said they had a surprise for me. They told me that [Giggle] was now a cop and that she had been given a job as the police chief of Miniopolis.”
It was clear very early on how much excitement and joy radiated off of Maki when discussing her portrayal of a character in a franchise that she had grown up loving. When talking about getting the job, she mentions that she thought it was a prank and that something would eventually go wrong along the way, but luckily that never happened. “You know how these projects are. You never know if you’re going to make it into the final edit of the film,” explained Maki. I remember at the after-after party of the premiere, the Pixar one, I was able to talk to [animator] Bob Pauley, who is iconic. He said over the last six years, they have had so many different characters and iterations. There were so many different storylines that got dropped along the way so at that moment, I felt so incredibly lucky to even [have] made it into the film. To be such an incredible new character within [the franchise] is mindblowing.”
TOY STORY 4 is now in theatres. The film is directed by Josh Cooley and features the voice talents of Tom Hanks as Woody, Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear, Annie Potts as Bo Peep, Tony Hale as Forky, Keegan-Michael Key as Ducky, Jordan Peele as Bunny, Christina Hendricks as Gabby Gabby and Keanu Reeves as Duke Caboom. For more on the film, make sure to check out our review here.