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Film

How Tom Hanks' brother is deeply involved as Woody from 'Toy Story'

The Toy Story franchise is a cultural behemoth. It was 1995 that saw the release of the first instalment, the first feature film under the Pixar brand and the first entirely computer-animated feature film. Genuinely groundbreaking and a resounding success, Toy Story set a precedent for all animated films moving forward and set the bar high for Pixar for future releases, and to much surprise, they would maintain this standard until the end of the 2000s. 

There were many elements that made Toy Story so iconic. Be it Randy Newman‘s classic theme tune ‘You’ve Got a Friend in Me’, the actors or the script, it’s a bonafide classic, and is one that generations will love after our own. However, the most unmistakable facet of Toy Story has to be the characters. Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Bo Peep, Mr. Potato Head, Rex, Slinky Dog, the list of iconic characters is endless 

Undoubtedly though, the two that stick out among the rest are Woody, played by Tom Hanks, and Buzz Lightyear, played by Tim Allen. Two rivals who become great friends, their tale is one of the most important in the Pixar filmography. It so transpires that Woody has an interesting backstory that may shock fans of the series.

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Although Woody is one of Hanks’ most memorable characters, often, Woody isn’t actually played by Hanks. Being so busy, as any Oscar-winning actor would be, for the spin-off Toy Story material, it is his “favourite deputy”, his brother Jim, who steps in for the role. 

The secret was first revealed when Graham Norton brought it up back in 2011. Wanting to get to the bottom of the urban myth, Norton had a Woody doll, and pulled the string. Afterwards, he asked Hanks if this was his voice or not. The veteran actor responded: “No, it’s my brother Jim. There are so many computer games and video things and Jim just works on those all year long”.

That’s right, in pretty much every piece of Toy Story canon aside from the main films, it has been Jim Hanks providing the voice of Woody. Interestingly, this wasn’t the first time that he’d provided support for his older brother. During the filming of 1994’s Forrest Gump, Jim Hanks was the body double for Tom. 

Even though Jim Hanks has made something of a career from being Woody, he’s also an actor himself, and it wouldn’t be just to reduce him to simply Tom Hanks’ stand-in. Jim has enjoyed a prolific career as an actor and director of his own. Next time you come across a piece of Toy Story merchandise, just remember that’s not Tom Hanks you’re hearing. 

Watch Tom Hanks’ big reveal below.