Walt Disney's Cars
Cars In Theaters
"Walt Disney's Cars" - After taking moviegoers magically into the realm of toys, bugs, monsters, fish, and superheroes, the masterful storytellers and technical wizards at Pixar Animation Studios ("The Incredibles," "Finding Nemo," "Monsters, Inc."), and Academy Award-winning director John Lasseter ("Toy Story," "Toy Story 2," "A Bug's Life"), hit the road with a fast-paced comedy adventure set inside the world of cars. Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson), a hotshot rookie race car driven to succeed, discovers that life is about the journey, not the finish line, when he finds himself unexpectedly detoured in the sleepy Route 66 town of Radiator Springs.
On route across the country to the big Piston Cup Championship in California to compete against two seasoned pros, McQueen gets to know the town's offbeat characters -- including Sally (a snazzy 2002 Porsche voiced by Bonnie Hunt), Doc Hudson (a 1951 Hudson Hornet with a mysterious past, voiced by Paul Newman), and Mater (a rusty but trusty tow truck voiced by Larry The Cable Guy) -- who help him realize that there are more important things than trophies, fame and sponsorship. The all-star vocal cast also includes free-wheeling performances by racing legend Richard Petty and Cheech Marin. Fueled with plenty of humor, action, heartfelt drama, and amazing new technical feats, "Cars" is a high octane delight for moviegoers of all ages.
STARRING - The Voices of: Paul Newman, Owen Wilson, Bonnie Hunt, John Ratzenberger, Cheech Marin
DIRECTOR: John Lasseter
Walt Disney's Cars
Behind The Scenes
After taking moviegoers magically into the realm of toys, bugs, monsters, fish, and superheroes, the masterful storytellers and technical wizards at Pixar Animation Studios ("The Incredibles," "Finding Nemo," "Monsters, Inc.") and Academy Award®-winning director John Lasseter ("Toy Story," "Toy Story 2," "A Bug's Life"), hit the road with a fast-paced comedy adventure set inside the world of cars. A Pixar Animation Studios film presented by Walt Disney Pictures, "CARS" is a high octane delight for moviegoers of all ages, fueled with plenty of humor, action, heartfelt drama, and amazing new technical feats. Adding to the fun is a driving score and new songs by Oscar®-winner Randy Newman, along with original musical performances by such top talents as Sheryl Crow, James Taylor, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, and John Mayer. The film coincides with the celebration of Pixar's 20th anniversary, and the company's recent acquisition by Disney.
Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), a hotshot rookie race car driven to succeed, discovers that life is about the journey, not the finish line, when he finds himself unexpectedly detoured in the sleepy Route 66 town of Radiator Springs. En route across the country to the big Piston Cup Championship in California to compete against two seasoned pros, McQueen gets to know the town's offbeat characters - including Doc Hudson (a 1951 Hudson Hornet with a mysterious past, voiced by screen legend Paul Newman), Sally Carrera (a snazzy 2002 Porsche voiced by Bonnie Hunt), and Mater (a rusty but trusty tow truck voiced by Larry the Cable Guy) - who help him realize that there are more important things than trophies, fame, and sponsorship.
The all-star vocal cast also includes free-wheeling performances by Tony Shalhoub, Michael Keaton, Cheech Marin, George Carlin, Katherine Helmond, and perennial Pixar "good luck charm," John Ratzenberger. Michael Wallis, author of the critically acclaimed book, Route 66: The Mother Road, and the authority on that legendary American artery that connected north to south, and east to west, is heard in the film as the voice of the Sheriff of Radiator Springs.
Delivering more fun and authenticity to the cast for "CARS" are vocal performances from some of the all-time greatest names from the racing world, including the legendary Richard Petty, plus "drive-on" roles by Mario Andretti, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Darrell Waltrip (who holds the record for five wins at the NASCAR Coca Cola 600), and Michael Schumacher, the ace German Formula 1 racing legend, who is widely considered to be the best Grand Prix racing driver of all-time. Veteran Olympic and sports commentator Bob Costas lends his seasoned voice to the character of Bob Cutlass, the colorful host at the film's racing events. Tom and Ray Magliozzi (aka Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers), hosts of the popular NPR program, "Car Talk" (first broadcast in Boston in 1977 and picked up nationally ten years later), weigh in as the not-so-coveted sponsors Rusty and Dusty Rust-eze.
Commenting on the characters themselves, Bonnie Hunt (the voice of Sally) says, "When they write these movies at Pixar, they start with the heart of the character first. And once the heart is there, it doesn't matter what's on the outside. Even a car becomes a character and a personality. The heart and soul is what turns a steel car into a character and a person. It's not only the script that makes these films special. John Lasseter and the artists at Pixar provide the imagination that is the gold mine of their storytelling process. Their imaginations go to the fantasies of the heart, and of life, and of our values. Anything that you can possibly visualize in your mind, they bring to life."
The driving force behind "CARS" is John Lasseter, who returns to directing for the first time since "Toy Story 2" in 1999. During the past seven years, in addition to guiding "CARS" through the production process, Lasseter has executive produced and overseen all of Pixar's creative endeavors ("Monsters, Inc.," "Finding Nemo," and "The Incredibles"), and supervised the building of a new state-of-the-art Studio in Emeryville, California. This latest film tapped into Lasseter's personal love of cars and racing, as well as a variety of issues that were near and dear to him.
"CARS" was co-directed by Joe Ranft, who also served as story supervisor for the film, and voiced several incidental characters. One of the most gifted and respected story artists in modern day animation, and the congenial voice behind such favorite Pixar characters as Heimlich the ravenous caterpillar ("A Bug's Life"), Wheezy the penguin ("Toy Story 2"), and Jacques the shrimp ("Finding Nemo"), Ranft passed away in August, 2005. He had collaborated with Lasseter on all three of his previous directing efforts, and had been a key creative force at Pixar for over a decade.
Serving as the film's producer was Darla K. Anderson, a Pixar veteran whose previous producing credits include "A Bug's Life" and "Monsters, Inc." Combining her technical expertise with her tremendous respect and knowledge of the creative process, Anderson guided all aspects of the production and helped support Lasseter's vision from the start. The film's associate producer was Tom Porter, a technical pioneer in the world of computer animation who has been part of the Pixar inner circle since its inception. Eben Ostby, another original member of the Pixar team, was the supervising technical director.
The original story for "CARS" was conceived by John Lasseter, Joe Ranft, and Jorgen Klubien. The screenplay for the film was written by Dan Fogelman, Lasseter, Ranft, Kiel Murray and Phil Lorin, and Klubien.
Central to the plot and themes of "CARS" is the iconic Route 66, along which much of the story takes place. Lasseter and his team headed out on the historic highway on several occasions to research and observe the importance and impact of this cultural phenomenon.
Route 66 expert Wallis, who has been exploring the "Mother Road" for over 60 years and who served as guide/pathfinder for the research trips, explains, "Route 66 is a mirror held up to the nation. It reflects what's going on in the nation at any given time. For most people, this highway is the most famous in the world, and it represents the great American road trip. It's a chance to drive from Chicago, (the city of big shoulders) through the heartland, and the Southwest, past ribbons of neon, across the great Mojave, to the Pacific shore at Santa Monica. Route 66 is the road the Dust Bowlers took. During World War II, it was used as a military road by the G.I.s. It's the road of Bobby Troup and Elvis. It's the road our fathers, mothers, and grandparents traveled. Everybody at some point in their life in this country, whether they know it or not, has touched that road. It really does have iconic status. It gives motorists an experience that they're not going to get in the great coastal cities. They have to go out in the middle of that juicy pie and taste it; not just nibble the crust…and really indeed life begins at the off ramp," concludes Wallis, who co-authored the book, The Art of Cars with his wife, Suzanne Fitzgerald Wallis.
"CARS" represents one of Pixar's most challenging and ambitious efforts to date. The Studio has successfully and convincingly brought moviegoers into the world of toys, bugs, monsters, fish, and superheroes, but creating a believable and true world inhabited solely by cars was a whole other matter.
Lasseter's mandate to have the car characters look as real as possible posed some daunting new challenges for Pixar's technical team. Having a film where the characters are metallic and heavily contoured meant coming up with resourceful ways to accurately show reflections. "CARS" is the first Pixar film to use "ray tracing," a technique which allows the car stars to credibly reflect their environments.
The addition of reflections in practically every shot of the film added tremendous render time to the project. The average time to render a single frame of film for "CARS" was 17 hours. Even with a sophisticated network of 3000 computers, and state-of-the-art lightning fast processors that operate up to four times faster than they did on "The Incredibles," it still took many days to render a single second of finished film.
Lasseter also insisted on "truth to materials," and instructed the animation team not to stretch or squash the cars in ways that would be inconsistent with their heavy metal frames. The animators did a lot of "road testing" to get the characters to behave in a believable and entertaining way, and found ways to add subtle bends and gestures that were true to their construction. The animators also discovered how to use the tires almost as hands to help them with their performance.
THE CAR STARS/VOICE TALENTS:
LIGHTNING MCQUEEN - Poised to become the youngest car ever to win the Piston Cup Championship, this hotshot rookie race car has just two things on his mind - winning and the perks that come with it. But when he gets detoured in the forgotten town of Radiator Springs and has to shift for himself, he gets a crash course on what matters most in life. Owen Wilson ("Bottle Rocket," "Shanghai Noon," "Meet the Fockers," "Wedding Crashers") is up to speed as the voice of this cocky race car who learns that life is about the journey, not the destination.
DOC HUDSON - A seemingly quiet country doctor (mechanic) with a mysterious past, this 1951 Hudson Hornet is a cornerstone of Radiator Springs, and also serves as town judge. Respected and admired by the townsfolk, Doc is a car of few words, and is unimpressed by the town's newest arrival - Lightning McQueen. The speed-obsessed hotshot race car dismisses Doc as just an old Grandpa car, but comes to discover that the old timer still has a few tricks under his hood. Acting legend, Oscar®-winner, and Guinness Book World Record Holder (the oldest driver to win a professionally sanctioned race in 1995 in Daytona) Paul Newman gives a winning performance as the voice of this venerable vehicle.
SALLY CARRERA - This sporty 2002 Porsche 911 from California grew tired of life in the fast lane, and made a new start for herself in Radiator Springs. As the proprietor of the Cozy Cone Motel, and one of the town's most optimistic boosters, she has high hopes that it will one day return to its former glory, and wind up "back on the map." She takes an instant shine to Lightning McQueen, and helps to steer him in the right direction. Multi-talented actress/filmmaker Bonnie Hunt ("A Bug's Life," "Monsters, Inc.," "Cheaper By the Dozen") gives a premium performance as Sally, with just the right blend of charm, intelligence and wit.
MATER - This good ol' boy tow truck may be a bit rusty on the outside, but he has the quickest towrope in Carburetor County and is always the first to lend a helping hand. Sweet and loyal to a fault, Mater befriends McQueen and sees his potential as his new best friend, despite his many flaws. The self-proclaimed "world's best backwards driver," Mater dreams of someday flying in a helicopter, but stays grounded with his day job running "Tow-Mater Towing and Salvage." Comedy sensation Larry the Cable Guy gives a "tow-de-force" vocal performance that is both hilariously funny and touching.
FILLMORE - Radiator Springs' resident hippie is a 1960 VW bus who brews his own organic fuel and preaches its many benefits. Visitors can check it out for themselves in the tasting room behind his love-bead and tie dye covered geodesic dome. His conspiracy theories and unkempt yard don't sit well with his neighbor, Sarge, but despite their frequent disagreements, they can't live without one another. Comedy legend George Carlin gives a far-out performance as the voice of this peace-loving bus.
SARGE - This patriotic 1942 WWII Willy's Army jeep runs Radiator Springs' army surplus store, Sarge's Surplus Hut, and is often found manicuring the lawn in front of his Quonset hut into a precise flat-top. Although he likes to complain about his VW bus neighbor, he knows that life is more interesting with Fillmore around. Actor Paul Dooley ("Breaking Away," "Desperate Housewives") sounds off as this regimented vehicle whose bark is worse than his bite.
RAMONE - The proprietor of Ramone's House of Body Art, this 1959 Impala low-rider is a true magician with paint and metal, but he hasn't had anyone to customize in years. While waiting for a paying customer to come along, he re-paints himself daily and hopes that McQueen will consent to letting him add a few new flourishes. Comedian/actor Cheech Marin turns in a colorful performance as the voice of this feisty fellow.
FLO - Married to Ramone, and the owner of Flo's V-8 Café, is this sassy, no-nonsense 1950s show car. Offering the "finest fuel in fifty states," Flo's is a popular gathering spot for the locals to sip some oil, share some gossip, and listen to a little motherly advice from Flo herself. It was love at first sight for Flo and Ramone, ever since they met when she was traveling across country as a glamorous Motorama girl. Jenifer Lewis goes with the "flo" as the voice of this spirited character.
LUIGI - Big-hearted, gregarious, and excitable, this 1959 Fiat 500 runs the local tire shop, Luigi's Casa Della Tires, which is the "Home of the Leaning Tower of Tires." With his forklift pal, Guido, by his side, Luigi is an avid race car fan (with a bias towards Ferraris) who is always eager to please. Business hasn't been good in years, so you can always count on a bargain on a new set of wheels from this merry merchant. Tony Shalhoub ("Big Night," "Monk") puts the accent on comedy in this tireless performance.
SHERIFF - Route 66 expert/author Michael Wallis provides the voice of this 1949 Mercury Police Cruiser, sworn with upholding the peace in Radiator Springs. Always on the prowl for would-be speeders who might want to barrel through his town, Sheriff enjoys telling stories about his beloved Mother Road, and taking the occasional nap behind the town's billboard.
THE KING (aka STRIP WEATHERS) - This 1970 Plymouth Superbird is a racing legend who has won more Piston Cups races than any other car in history. Despite his fame, he's a down home guy, who knows it takes more than trophies to make a true champion. He believes in hard work, team playing, and making time for his wife, Mrs. The King. Set to retire at the end of the season and relinquish his coveted Dinoco sponsorship, the King is the envy of all the up-and-coming racers. Racing legend Richard Petty, a seven-time NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship winner, lends his voice to this classy champ. His wife, Lynda, provides a cameo voice as The King's car-mate.
CHICK HICKS - This racing veteran is a ruthless competitor, who has bumped and cheated his way into more second place finishes than any other car. Forever living in the King's shadow, he's the consummate runner-up and will stop at nothing to win the Dinoco sponsorship. Convinced that "the Chick era" is about to begin, he isn't about to let Lightning McQueen get between him and his dream of winning the Piston Cup. Versatile actor Michael Keaton ("Mr. Mom," "Batman," "Herbie: Fully Loaded") gets down and dirty as the voice of this hard-driving road warrior.
MACK - No Pixar film is complete without a vocal performance by John Ratzenberger, and in "CARS," the popular actor weighs in as the voice of a 1985 Mack Super-Liner who has a thorough knowledge of Federal regulations. As McQueen's trusted driver, he is willing to push the limits of his own sanity and sleep requirements to accommodate his celebrity employer. McQueen's luxurious bachelor pad is fully loaded with the best in fiber optics, TVs, a massage chair, and more.
TUNING UP THE STORY
"CARS" was a very personal story for John Lasseter. As a boy growing up in Whittier, California, he loved to visit the Chevrolet dealership where his father was a parts department manager, and got a part-time job there as a stock boy as soon as he turned 16.
According to Lasseter, "I have always loved cars. In one vein, I have Disney blood, and in the other, there's motor oil. The notion of combining these two great passions in my life - cars and animation - was irresistible. When Joe (Ranft) and I first started talking about this film in 1998, we knew we wanted to do something with cars as characters. Around that same time, we watched a documentary called 'Divided Highways,' which dealt with the interstate highway and how it affected the small towns along the way. We were so moved by it and began thinking about what it must have been like in these small towns that got bypassed. That's when we started really researching Route 66, but we still hadn't quite figured out what the story for the film was going to be. I used to travel that highway with my family as a child when we visited our family in St. Louis."
It was at this point that Lasseter's wife, Nancy, persuaded him to take a much-needed vacation, during the summer of 2001. Lasseter recalls, "Nancy said to me that if I didn't slow down and start paying attention to the family, the kids would be going off to college before I knew it and I would be missing a huge part of our family life. And she was right!"
The entire family packed up a motor home, and set out on a two-month trip with the goal of staying off the interstate highways, and dipping their toes in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. "Everybody thought we would be at each others throats the whole time," adds Lasseter, "but it was the exact opposite. When I came back from the trip, I was closer to my family than ever and I reattached to what was important in life. And I suddenly realized that I knew what the film needed to be about. I discovered that the journey in life is the reward. It's great to achieve things, but when you do you want to have your family and friends around to help celebrate. Joe loved the idea and our story really took off from there. Our lead car, Lightning McQueen, is focused on being the fastest. He doesn't care about anything except winning the championship. He was the perfect character to be forced to slow down, the way I had on my motor home trip. For the first time in my professional career I had slowed down, and it was amazing. The unique thing about Pixar films is that the stories come from our hearts. They come from things that are personal to us, and that move us. This gives special emotion and meaning to the films."
In 2001, Lasseter, Ranft, producer Darla Anderson, production designers Bob Pauley and Bill Cone, along with other key members of the production team flew to Oklahoma City and headed out from there in a caravan of four white Cadillacs on a nine-day trip along Route 66. Historian/author Michael Wallis led the expedition, and introduced them to the people and places that make that road so very special.
At each stop along the way, the team observed firsthand the "patina" of the towns, and tried to capture the richness of textures and colors. Painted advertisements on the sides of buildings, weathered and overlaid, were of particular interest. Careful studies were made of rock and cloud formations, and the variety of vegetation along the way.
Wallis notes, "Every road has a look based on where the road goes. It reflects the territory on both shoulders. The look of Route 66 is everything from the licorice colored soil of Illinois in the land of Lincoln, to the desert sands of the Mojave. It's the all-American look."
"On our research trip, we went to the cafes and mom-and-pop shops, and motels along the way. We talked to hitchhikers, cowboys, waitresses and mechanics. We met a lot of interesting characters along the way. If you're a real road warrior and you know the old highway, you will be pleased, because the film is going to remind you of places and people you might know on the Mother Road."
Out on the Texas Panhandle, just west of Amarillo, is an unusual site named Cadillac Ranch, where an eccentric Texan commissioned three artists collectively known as "Ant Farm" to create site-specific art work on his ranch. They buried a row of Cadillacs as a monument to the rise and fall of the tailfin, and Pixar has paid homage to that landmark in 'CARS.'"