Q&A: “Lightyear” Star Chris Evans Discusses Tim Allen, Catchphrases, and Why He’d Like to Play Disney’s Robin Hood

Actor Chris Evans has become one of the most recognizable faces in the world thanks to his work in the Captain America and Avengers films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but he’s also played Johnny Storm (AKA the Human Torch) in two Fantastic Four movies, Lucas Lee in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Ransom Drysdale in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, and even vigilante Casey Jones in 2007’s TMNT animated feature.

Now Evans has returned to voice-over in his first role for the Disney-owned Pixar Animation Studios, portraying the title character in the new film Lightyear– based on the character of Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story franchise. And at a recent virtual press conference discussing the movie, Evans talked about what makes this take on Buzz different, which of the actor’s famous catch phrases is his favorite, and why he’d like to play Disney’s Robin Hood.

When asked what was new about Buzz in Lightyear that made the role interesting to him, Chris Evans had this to say: “Well, just getting to explore a character that we all know so well in a slightly more nuanced interpretation, you know what I mean? The Buzz that we all know [from the Toy Story movies] is obviously a toy– and as a toy, there are certain ways that they can move through the world without the weight that we may carry. You know, a toy knows its purpose, a toy doesn't have to worry about disease. The impacts of the choices that we make as people are a little bit more consequential and it's fun to put Buzz against that backdrop. I loved Buzz Lightyear when Toy Story came out– it kinda kicked the doors down in terms of a new approach to the medium, so I was thrilled and excited to know that there was more to come. I loved all the characters in Toy Story deeply.”

Is there another Disney character that Evans would like to play? “I don't think I could pull it off, but I was always a really big fan of Robin Hood, the old animated Disney movie. I just thought Robin Hood was so cool, you know? I think of all the animated characters in the Disney library, Robin Hood stands alone. He's just smooth and charming and capable. I don't have that cool British accent, but I'd love to give it a crack.  I’ll just do the Kevin Costner thing and just not even [try the accent].”

Which of the actor’s catchphrases does he like the most? “Oh, man– that’s [an] impossible [question to answer], because obviously ‘To infinity and beyond’ is something I knew well before ‘Avengers assemble.’  It was dear to me in much earlier chapters of my life. But as proud as I am to play this role and as honored as I am to be a part of this universe now, that line belongs to someone else. It almost kind of felt like I was wearing someone else’s clothes or something. So you do your best to honor it and put your own spin on it, but let's be honest, that’s Tim Allen’s line. So personally, at least, ‘Avengers assemble’ is my favorite. I was the first one in the pool for that one.”

Lastly, Evans was asked about his character’s sidekick in Lightyear– the hilarious robot cat named Sox, voiced by Pixar’s Peter Sohn. “I love the dynamic [between those two characters]. I really do. Peter did amazing work. I like the idea of someone like Buzz who’s this very autonomous, austere kind of guy, but he's given an emotional support cat to acclimate not just from coming back after four years, but just to address problems that he may otherwise overlook. And I think that’s a nice metaphor for– whether it's therapy, or just the fact that we all need those emotional support moments. We all need to talk about our problems and vent to something, someway. I just like that relationship, that juxtaposition of someone like Buzz, who’s so independent, needing someone like Sox the same way we all do. I have a real-life Sox the cat robot. His name is Dodger, and he is sick of hearing my problems. I can assure you that.

Lightyear opens this Friday, June 17, in theaters nationwide.