Why Billy Crystal Turned Down Voicing Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story

When “Toy Story,” was first introduced to the world nearly 30 years ago in 1995, the world was smitten. So smitten, in fact, that famous voices such as Tom Hanks and Tim Allen have been asked to lend their voices to three subsequent films after the first – each one better than the last. While Woody, the cowboy voiced by none other than Tom Hanks himself – is the star of the show, it’s the showy, fanatical, vain, egocentric but also fiercely loyal Buzz Lightyear that is always on the minds of his fans. Tim Allen is the famous voice behind the character, and no one can imagine Lightyear with any other voice. Tim Allen is an icon. He’s Tim the Tool Man Taylor. He’s Mike Baxter, Outdoor Man. He’s a staunch republican, a supporter of the first and second amendment rights, and he’s a man we all adore for his stance and his outlook on life. He’s a man who has been making us laugh for so many years we cannot remember life without him – but he is also a man who was almost not Buzz Lightyear.

Billy Crystal as Buzz?

When the world found out that Billy Crystal is the man who was tapped to lend his voice to the character of Buzz Lightyear, no one believed it. Billy Crystal, while amazing, does not have the voice for this role. Thankfully, he knew that. When he was first asked to be part of the movie, he didn’t think he was the right man for the job. As Crystal puts it, “At the time, it wasn’t because of any work – it was something else. I didn’t’ think I was the right voice for that character. And Tim Allen is great. He has this resonant, big voice of this character who’s full of himself,” he said while celebrating the 20th anniversary of his own Disney Pixar voice from “Monster’s Inc,” (which, by the way, he is the perfect voice for). However, the people who were making the movie were so convinced that they’d have Crystal for the voice of Buzz that they even mashed his voice together to make up a screen test for the character even though he turned down the role.

“They took dialogue from a scene in “When Harry Met Sally,” when I got mad at all of them and I say, ‘Someday you’ll go 15 rounds over who is going to get this stupid wagon-wheel coffee table’. So it’s Buzz Lightyear doing those lines, and then at the ‘stupid wagon-wheel coffee table,’ it cut wide and little Buzz is standing under a big stupid wagon wheel coffee table. And then he goes, ‘I was being nice,’ the visor from his helmet closed. I went, ‘You know what? I was wrong”. It was at that point that Billy Crystal decided he would be have been great for the role, and that he was big-time wrong for not taking it.

Tim Allen is Buzz Lightyear

At the end of the day, though, we all feel that the right man lent his voice to the right part. Billy Crystal did turn down a huge hit and a huge movie and a huge role, but he ended up with one just as big and just as impressive when he took on the role of Mike, the one-eye, green monster who is not entirely sure of anything or everything in the hit movie, “Monsters, Inc.” alongside the impressive and amazing John Goodman. Billy Crystal is Mike. And Tim Allen is Buzz Lightyear. Sometimes, you make a mistake and you think to yourself that you did all the wrong things. Perhaps that is how Crystal felt when he realized just what it was that he turned down, but we imagine that Tim Allen is just fine with it. In fact, the world is just fine with it because there is no other Buzz Lightyear than Tim Allen. Hearing him with Crystal’s voice is not right, it doesn’t work, and we feel that the right actor was cast with the right character all those years ago. Now that it’s been decades upon decades since both movies were first released, we cannot imagine it going any other direction than the one it did. Answer this for us, though: Do you see Billy Crystal as Buzz Lightyear? If he did that role and was the voice of our favorite self-involved space ranger, who would Hollywood have cast as Mike in Monsters? We don’t know, and we don’t want to think about Buzz Lightyear as anyone but Tim Allen.

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