Don Rickles was widely known for decades for his signature insult comedy, displayed in stand-up routines and in regular appearances on late-night talk shows. However, for a generation of Pixar fans, he was beloved as the voice of Mr. Potato Head in the “Toy Story” franchise.
But when Rickles passed away on Thursday at age 94, he hadn’t yet recorded his dialogue for “Toy Story 4,” planned for release in 2019.
Speaking with a representative for the late comedian, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed the animated film had been undergoing rewrites, and Rickles had not yet called in for voice work. Although the extent of Mr. Potato Head’s role in the sequel isn’t known, the website contends it’s possible Pixar could use lines recorded by Rickles for previous installments.
Rickles debuted as the outspoken Mr. Potato Head in 1995’s “Toy Story,” and reprised the role for the 1999 and 2010 sequels, as well as for a three animated shorts, 2011’s “Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation” and “Toy Story Toons: Small Fry,” and 2012’s “Toy Story Toons: Partysaurus Rex.”
“Toy Story” director John Lasseter paid tribute to Rickles, calling him a “comic genius.”
A tribute to Don Rickles. pic.twitter.com/VjGBVu8dVb
— Disney•Pixar (@DisneyPixar) April 7, 2017
“The wit, personality, and incredible timing he brought to Mr. Potato Head lit up the character and made him an essential part of the ‘Toy Story’ ensemble,” he wrote in a statement. “Even though Mr. Potato Head’s facial features fell off in every ‘Toy Story’ movie, his heart never left him — that was because of Don.”
Directed by Lasseter and Josh Cooley, “Toy Story 4” is targeted for release in June 2019.