If you’re wondering if Pixar’s upcoming film Lightyear has a highly personal backstory, indeed it does. Angus MacLane, who created the story, wrote the screenplay, and directed the film, found inspiration in a movie from his childhood.
“I saw a movie that changed my life: Star Wars,” says MacLane. “And after I saw Star Wars, all I wanted to play was Star Wars. All I wanted to draw was Star Wars. Star Wars was my religion.”
Star Wars became the first of many sci-fi classics that MacLane says defined his childhood. That continued into adulthood when he first saw Toy Story. “Now you remember in Toy Story, Andy had a birthday party,” continues MacLane. “His favorite gift was a character that he loved, Buzz Lightyear the Space Ranger, and it was a toy that would redefine playtime for Andy.”
Remembering his own love of sci-fi films as a child, MacLane couldn’t help but consider Buzz’s origin. “I’ve always wondered what movie was Buzz from?” That led to him wondering why they couldn’t make that movie at Pixar. “So that’s what we did. Presenting Lightyear, the movie that Andy saw that changed his life. Andy’s Star Wars.”
While the inspiration was there, they didn’t lean into a literal Star Wars homage. “If you have a reference, or you have something that reminds people, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s like Star…’ If you have something that’s so obvious like that, it can pull them out of the movie,” according to MacLane. “My goal was not parody…I wanted the audience to have the feeling at the end of it like, ‘Oh, I’ve gone on this fun space adventure.'”
You can see Andy’s Star Wars for yourself when Lightyear enters theaters on July 17, 2022.
The definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear, the hero who inspired the toy, “Lightyear” follows the legendary Space Ranger after he’s marooned on a hostile planet 4.2 million light-years from Earth alongside his commander and their crew. As Buzz tries to find a way back home through space and time, he’s joined by a group of ambitious recruits and his charming robot companion cat, Sox. Complicating matters and threatening the mission is the arrival of Zurg, an imposing presence with an army of ruthless robots and a mysterious agenda.