Trash or toy? Bringing Forky to life, in English and French, for Toy Story 4
"How do you say 'I'm trash' in French?"
"Je suis un déchet."
"I love it."
That's the the kind of banter you get when Tony Hale meets François Bellefeuille. The pair are the English- and French-language voice actors, respectively, behind Forky, the unusual new character introduced in Toy Story 4.
Hitting theatres this week, the latest installment of the beloved Pixar film franchise follows cowboy head toy Woody (Tom Hanks) as he attempts to safeguard Forky, their kindergarten-aged owner's newest — and self-made — plaything. There's an existential crisis running throughout the film: trash or toy?
"He's very simple," Hale, best known for roles in comedy TV juggernauts like Veep and Arrested Development, says about the "blank slate" that is his character.
"I love how Forky is just trying to question everything. Everything is new. The world is very, very new."
The character adds an unusual perspective to the series, according to Bellefeuille, who voices "Fourchette" in the film's French-language version.
"He doesn't want to be part of the gang, so that's something that's really new in Toy Story," says the Quebec comedian.
"It's a beautiful story," Hale adds.
Hale and Bellefeuille trade notes on bringing Forky/Fourchette to life.
While Hale has experience with voice acting — from The Angry Birds Movie to episodes of Rick and Morty as well as Disney fare like Doc McStuffins and Jake and the Never Land Pirates — Toy Story 4 was a first for Bellefeuille, one of the Canadian stand-up comics recently featured on the Netflix special Comedians of the World.
"I was following him, so he was my inspiration," said Bellefeuille, who voiced Fourchette after watching footage of Hale as Forky.
"I was stressed at the beginning. I was like 'Whoa, I have to be at least as good as he is.'"
An animated film voice actor creating a dub in another language has a tough job, Hale acknowledged.
"When you [voice a character] initially, you kind of have the freedom to play," the American actor explained. But when creating a performance in another language, "what you have to do is kind of fit into a time frame...that's not easy at all."
The two are happy with the reception the project has received and still pinching themselves that they're now part of the Toy Story universe.
"A lot of my friends have been watching all the movies of Toy Story: they're attached to Woody and all those characters. So it's one of that projects I did that impresses everybody," Bellefeuille noted.
When the first Toy Story was released in November 1995, Hale had just moved to New York to become an actor, he recalled.
"I remember seeing it and the animation was on another level. I would never have thought that one day I'd be associated with it. It's pretty crazy."