By Zach Johnson
If you don’t remember meeting Rib Tickles in Pixar Animation Studios’ Toy Story 4, that’s because… no one did. The character, voiced by Aloma Wright, wound up on the cutting room floor. But today, she gets her due in the Forky Asks a Question short “What Is a Pet?” on Disney+.
“I was keen on including characters you hadn’t seen for a while or characters that had fallen out of the film,” says Bob Peterson, writer and director of Forky Asks a Question. Enter Rib Tickles, who is mentioned in Toy Story 4 as being Giggle McDimples’ partner. “Rib Tickles had been modeled and was animatable, but she fell out of the story, so I rescued her and brought her back in,” he says, proudly. “Now, she’s the star of a short!”
Known for her television roles in Scrubs and Private Practice, Wright did a “fantastic” job, Peterson adds. “I had not worked with her before, but we had a great experience.”
Each of the featured actors who lend their talents to the Forky Asks a Question shorts—including John Ratzenberger as Hamm, Wallace Shawn as Rex, Kristen Schaal as Trixie, and others—recorded his or her dialogue at the end of a session for Toy Story 4. The one exception was Tony Hale, who voices Forky. “He’s had such a blast with this character and he loved the chance to spend more time being Forky,” says producer Mark Nielsen. “We spent two full days recording him at the end of 2018 for this series.”
With only so much recorded dialogue available, the animators and storytellers had to get creative. “When we’re making a feature, we’ll go for years and we’ll re-do and re-do,” says Peterson. “But these are a lot shorter, so you don’t belabor them. We recorded the actors once, then dealt with what we had. That was a lot of fun; it was almost like independent filmmaking. At one point, we decided to put little buttons at the end. We didn’t have them written in, so we just used found dialogue and crafted these things. Sometimes they ended up as the funniest part of these animations! It was fun being able to go look for scraps and assemble something, and it ended up working fairly well.”
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