Woody rides again


Academy Award winner Tom Hanks hops into the saddle once again, having a rip-roarin' good time as Sheriff Woody. Best known for his roles in "Forrest Gump," "Apollo 13," and "Saving Private Ryan," Tom thoroughly enjoyed stepping into Woody's boots for an encore performance.

What was it like playing Woody again?
It isn't too hard, because you come to the recording sessions and you're surrounded by the whole history of "Toy Story." The greatest thing is you get to see the movie continuously over a two-year period while they're making it. You see the story reels and get a good sense of what Woody is going through. By the time you actually step up to the microphone, you're Woody. Of course, I'm kind of like Woody in real life anyway.

What's the hardest part about playing Woody?
Doing an animated voice is exhausting work. You're in a room and you're trying to create all of these verbal grunts and groans and also the energy that goes along with the character. You have to tax your psychic talents as well, because you have to see it all in your head and make it all up. I always leave with a very sore diaphragm. I don't know how opera singers feel after they've performed onstage, but I think it's not unlike the way I feel driving home after a five- or six-hour recording session.

What was your favorite toy as a kid?
I saved up to buy Major Matt Mason. It was at the height of the space race, and he was a poseable, bendable, very authentic-looking astronaut.

Do you think Woody and Buzz are good friends?
Woody and Buzz are great friends because they are opposites and yet they are peers, all at the same time. They are the heroes of the age -- the astronaut and the cowboy. In "Toy Story 2," they share a sense of past adventures where they reached out and saved each other at the right time. They have a good healthy respect for each other, but at the same time a good healthy competition as well. Friendship is a long and sometimes rocky road. They learn from each other what it really is to be a toy and when not to let your head get bigger than your hat.