TOY STORY 4 DEBUTS A CANADIAN CHARACTER THAT EIGHT CANADIAN ANIMATORS HELPED BRING TO LIFE

“I think all the Canadians that were on the movie immediately requested to animate him,” Benjamin Su says of the outrageously patriotic daredevil Duke Caboom, voiced by Toronto-bred Keanu Reeves.

The moment Pixar animator Benjamin Su learned the newest Toy Story saga would debut a Canadian character, he jumped aboard. Who better to infuse a Canuck toy with Maple Leaf nuance than an actual Canadian, he thought? It turned out he would have some competition. Disney-Pixar / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The moment Pixar animator Benjamin Su learned the newest Toy Story saga would debut a Canadian character, he jumped aboard.

Who better to infuse a Canuck toy with Maple Leaf nuance than an actual Canadian? he thought.

It turned out he would have some competition: “there’s a lot of Canadians here,” Su wryly notes.

“I think all the Canadians that were on the movie immediately requested to animate him,” Su says of the outrageously patriotic daredevil Duke Caboom, voiced by Toronto-bred Keanu Reeves.

In the end, no fewer than eight Canadian animators had a hand in giving life to the diminutive motorcycle daredevil, an Evel Knievel-type stuntman full of national pride and bravado, as well as crippling insecurity that lingers just below the surface.

There’s no mistaking Duke’s country of origin when he first appears in his ’70s-inspired red-and-white moto gear. His bell-bottomed suit is adorned with a maple leaf belt buckle, another leaf is on the back of his cape and several more decorate his motorcycle.

Greg Mason, vice-president of marketing at Walt Disney Studios in Canada, says his office has been lobbying Pixar to increase its Canadian content for years. That includes a push for northern references such as the imaginary Canadian boyfriend in 2015’s Inside Out, and casting homegrown stars such as Eugene Levy as Dory’s dad in 2016’s Finding Dory.

Mason also credits his Cancon campaign with helping snag a very Canuck cameo in 2016’s Oscar-winning Zootopia for CBC broadcaster Peter Mansbridge, who lent his distinctive timbre to a character called “Peter Moosebridge,” a moose newscaster.

“That was something we worked on with our Disney Animation folks,” says Mason.

Toy Story 4 producer Jonas Rivera had seen what the Canadian team had done for Zootopia, Mason says, and he had also previously approached him when making Inside Out.

The moment Pixar animator Benjamin Su learned the newest Toy Story saga would debut a Canadian character, he jumped aboard.

Who better to infuse a Canuck toy with Maple Leaf nuance than an actual Canadian? he thought.

It turned out he would have some competition: “there’s a lot of Canadians here,” Su wryly notes.

“I think all the Canadians that were on the movie immediately requested to animate him,” Su says of the outrageously patriotic daredevil Duke Caboom, voiced by Toronto-bred Keanu Reeves.

In the end, no fewer than eight Canadian animators had a hand in giving life to the diminutive motorcycle daredevil, an Evel Knievel-type stuntman full of national pride and bravado, as well as crippling insecurity that lingers just below the surface.

There’s no mistaking Duke’s country of origin when he first appears in his ’70s-inspired red-and-white moto gear. His bell-bottomed suit is adorned with a maple leaf belt buckle, another leaf is on the back of his cape and several more decorate his motorcycle.

Greg Mason, vice-president of marketing at Walt Disney Studios in Canada, says his office has been lobbying Pixar to increase its Canadian content for years. That includes a push for northern references such as the imaginary Canadian boyfriend in 2015’s Inside Out, and casting homegrown stars such as Eugene Levy as Dory’s dad in 2016’s Finding Dory.

Mason also credits his Cancon campaign with helping snag a very Canuck cameo in 2016’s Oscar-winning Zootopia for CBC broadcaster Peter Mansbridge, who lent his distinctive timbre to a character called “Peter Moosebridge,” a moose newscaster.

“That was something we worked on with our Disney Animation folks,” says Mason.

Toy Story 4 producer Jonas Rivera had seen what the Canadian team had done for Zootopia, Mason says, and he had also previously approached him when making Inside Out.

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