The accomplished producer discusses the third chapter of the beloved franchise as it heads to home video
Long time producer Darla K. Anderson was first credited on a Pixar movie in 1995 with the original Toy Story, but it wasn't as a producer. Instead, she was given the title of "Digital Angel." Since then, Anderson certainly has been an angel for the company having produced some of their biggest hits, including A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc., Cars and most recently the box office juggernaut Toy Story 3, which was released on Blu-ray and DVD earlier this week.
In fact, the movie went on to earn over $1 billion worldwide and break several box office records in the process. Not to mention that the film opened to rave reviews and will probably be one of the top Oscar contenders come this awards season. We recently had a chance to catch up with Darla K. Anderson, while the Los Angeles Producers Guild of America and Women In Film were honoring her for her body of work. We spoke to the accomplished producer about Toy Story 3, its incredible success, bringing the trilogy full circle and writer Michael Arndt's amazing script. Here is what she had to say:
For starters, with its sensational box office numbers, rave reviews and even some serious Oscar buzz, have you been surprised at all by the film's overwhelming success?
Darla K. Anderson: A little bit. You know what was interesting, it kind of repeated for me the feelings we had on the original Toy Story. We were in love with it but you are just not at all in control of how people can react to it. So I had the same feelings about Toy Story 3 in the same way. I loved the movie but you just don't know how people are going to react, you are not in control of that. You know, this is how I operate. I just do my very best. All you can control is making the best movie you can and how I felt about it was I personally loved the movie. I was very Zen about it. I felt like I was really centered about this film. But I didn't have any presumptions about how well it would do at all. I know of a lot of other great films that I fell in love with (that didn't do well), so you just never really know. You never know what people will connect with but I felt really good about the film. I'm very proud of it.
When you have a film like this, which has beloved characters, incredible Pixar animation and a group of fantastic actors attached, how important is it to have a really strong script in addition to those other assets? Do you think an integral part of the film's success came from the outstanding script by writer Michael Arndt?
Darla K. Anderson: Our joke is, and we've had this joke forever, but we feel like we never really finish our films we just release them. So there was never a complete script that we were handed. It's a constantly evolving thing. Michael Arndt, the screenwriter, lived with us for two and a half years. So it's a living process. We had these screenings where we put up the film several times for all our comrades at Pixar and then gave each other big critiques. Michael Arndt was a huge part of that. He is definitely one of us. He's a purest and all he thought about was the film for two and a half years. We will always be forever grateful to him. We knew him before Little Miss Sunshine. He had written the script, Lee (Unkrich) read it and hired him for another project. Then Disney called us and the first person we turned to was Michael, then we asked him if he would help us with Toy Story 3. During that time Little Miss Sunshine got made and he had this huge ascent. We are so grateful that he stayed with us because he could have gone off anywhere and had done anything but he stayed with us for two and a half years. But the script is an evolution, day by day. Working at Pixar people always ask, what is the grand plan? The grand plan has only ever been to honor a great story and the filmmakers who want to passionately make it. It's simple but simple is hard. It's hard to just honor the story that intensely.
Finally, do you think another key to the film's success was the fact that it really ended the story of Andy and Woody's relationship and brought the trilogy full circle in a sense?
Darla K. Anderson: Yeah I do think so. It's all about Woody's story with Andy. So I think that we really completed the trilogy in a really beautiful way. I think that was the goal. When we really started thinking about it as a trilogy and telling the story to its completion, we really got grounded creatively.