John Ratzenberger: Pixar’s “good-luck charm”

Posted by · 10:23 am · June 2nd, 2009

John RatzenbergerI’m glad someone finally got around to doing this story.  In the pages of USA Today this week, Susan Wloszczyna has written up a nice little feature on actor John Ratzenberger, who has provided voice talent to every Pixar film since the studio’s first ground-breaking effort “Toy Story” back in 1995.  Here’s a taste:

The folks at Pixar, which has gone on to even greater success with such Oscar-winning titles as The Incredibles and WALL·E, decided to adopt the actor as their good-luck charm. And it seems to have worked. The tradition continues this summer with Ratzenberger as a kindly construction worker in Up, the studio’s 10th film and now No. 1 at the box office.

Did he ever think being a pushy plaything would lead to long-term employment? “No, but I didn’t think that the first time I sat at the bar on Cheers, either,” Ratzenberger says. “People ask me, ‘What is the secret to Pixar’s success?’ About 80% of what comes out of Hollywood is angry and cynical, whereas everything from Pixar is heartfelt and hopeful. That is who these people are. That is their world view.”

He has been the studio’s pet actor for so long, he is no longer sure why the animators decided to keep on hiring him. “I’m just happy they do.”

I also like this aside with thoughts from “Up” director Pete Docter:

Pete Docter, director of Monsters, Inc. and Up, says Ratzenberger’s vocal ability also has something to do with it. “He’s the ultimate Pixar character actor,” he says. “He’s someone so clear, I know that guy after only two lines of dialogue. Having him in every film is like our Hitchcock cameo.”

What’s your favorite Ratzenberger/Pixar role?  I might have to go with “WALL-E,” actually.

→ 10 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

10 responses so far

  • 1 6-02-2009 at 11:08 am

    Marlowe said...

    I love all of his Pixar stuff (I am a human being, after all), but I’m gonna go with the Yeti from “Monsters, Inc”.

  • 2 6-02-2009 at 11:51 am

    Hans said...

    I love him as Hamm in the Toy Stories (and in the TS3 trailer!) but Wall-E comes in at a close second.

  • 3 6-02-2009 at 2:27 pm

    Casey Fiore said...

    his 5 seconds in The Incredibles are priceless but its hard to beat Hamm

  • 4 6-02-2009 at 4:38 pm

    Andy said...

    If I ever get the chance to ask a Pixar exec…ANY Pixar exec…a question, it would be “So when is John Ratzenberger finally going to voice the LEAD character in a Pixar feature?” Seriously…it’s time.

  • 5 6-02-2009 at 4:49 pm

    Speaking English said...

    “WALL-E?” You’re favorite PIXAR Ratzenberger character is one that lasts not over one minute? I don’t get it.

    Which brings me to the realization that Ratzenberger has been sorely under utilized for PIXAR’s last three features. “Ratatouille,” small part, almost unrecognizable. “WALL-E,” it’s been said. “Up”… you smile when you hear him, but he’s a blink and you miss character at best. Good thing he has Hamm coming up next!

  • 6 6-02-2009 at 4:49 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Your* favorite. GRR.

  • 7 6-02-2009 at 5:05 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    English: I think he has more of an emotional impact on the film. I don’t need a bunch of yuk-yuk jokes and screen time doesn’t matter if the impact is felt.

  • 8 6-02-2009 at 6:55 pm

    N8 said...

    I have a soft spot for Hamm in the “Toy Story” movies, but I think my favourite role of his is actually PT Flee in “A Bug’s Life”.

  • 9 6-02-2009 at 7:51 pm

    Matt T said...

    As much as I thought the Yeti was funny, I have to go with Hamm. Hamm is hilarious.

  • 10 6-03-2009 at 5:46 am

    emily said...

    I’m gonna go classic with Hamm. I do like PT Flea though.