Advance tickets for Toy Story 4 are now on sale!
It’s been twenty years since we last saw Bo Peep as part of the gang in Toy Story 2. Considering her budding romance with Woody was a pretty big deal in the first two films, it was surprising that her character was suddenly absent from Toy Story 3. With a cryptic line of dialogue referring to her as one of the many toys the group had “lost along the way,” how and why Bo and her flock disappeared remains a mystery. That is until this summer when Bo makes her big comeback in Toy Story 4, revealing the answer to where she’s been all this time as well as some exciting new changes to the character.
Meeting “Team Bo” was one of the highlights of my recent trip to Pixar. They’ve spent the last five years redesigning and reimagining Bo Peep (voiced by Annie Potts) as a powerful action heroine to make her a more integral part of the story. “She’s the reason to make this movie,” says Story Supervisor, Valerie LaPointe, sharing how exciting it was to give the character a new and improved look in an empowering leading role. Exploring her arc from a secondary character that was essentially part of an appliance – we learn that Bo and her sheep were part of a porcelain baby lamp in Molly’s room – to her liberated and exhilarating lifestyle as a lost toy sets her up to clash with her old flame Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks).
As we know, Woody believes that being lost is the worst thing that could ever happen to a toy. “Making her the one thing that Woody has always been afraid of was really interesting,” adds director, Josh Cooley. “She has a completely new world view.” Woody’s discovery that Bo has not only adapted but embraced this kind of life will obviously be a huge curveball for him. Add to that their undying affection for one another and it’s possible that Bo could lead Woody down a path he’s never considered before.
The concept that Bo and her flock were part of a baby lamp establishes that her character adapted early on to playing a more temporary role in a child’s life than Woody and the others. When we meet her again, it’s clear she’s been through some tough times, sporting a bandage on her arm and remnants of her cumbersome gown now modified into a sensible pantsuit. “She’s a character who decided she didn’t just want to sit on a shelf waiting for life to happen,” explains Story Artist, Carrie Hobson. "She doesn't play by toy rules." The team spent a lot of time creating a balance between the character’s femininity and fragility as a porcelain doll combined with the athletic grace and strength of an action heroine. While there was talk in the beginning of leaning into the romantic-comedy angle with Bo and Woody, it seems she’ll play a more significant role in opposition to his philosophy that a toy’s entire purpose is to be there for their owner. She appears to be thriving as a leader outside the confines of the toy box, making her a compelling symbol of freedom and opening the door to explore unchartered territory in the Toy Story universe.
I’m curious to see where Pixar is headed with these changes to Bo’s character, not to mention all the other new female characters and storylines in Toy Story 4. The introduction of 1950s doll, Gabby Gabby (voiced by Christina Hendricks), as the first female villain in the franchise adds a creepiness factor that looks like it will be a lot of fun. Then there’s also the prospect of what belonging to Bonnie now will mean for the gang, since they’d become so accustomed to life with Andy. Some intriguing footage of Bonnie choosing cowgirl Jessie (voiced by Joan Cusack) over Woody to act as the sheriff of her town hints things could be very different for him from now on. Yet it’s Bo Peep we’re likely to find the most changed. From what I’ve seen so far, I can only hope that Bo’s newfound experience and empowerment means her future won’t be too wrapped up in whatever Woody decides. As hard as it was to say goodbye to her the first time, it would be even tougher to watch this new Bo Peep return to the toy box in Bonnie’s room.
Toy Story 4 is in theaters June 21st.