Why Chris Evans replaced Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear


Toy Story spin-off Lightyear hits screens worldwide this week, but if you’re a fan of title character Buzz Lightyear, you’re in for a surprise when you hear his voice. That’s because Chris Evans has replaced Tim Allen as the beloved Space Ranger. But there’s a very good reason for the change…

Tim Allen – who became a household name playing Tim Taylor in the sitcom Home Improvement – made the move into voice acting in the 1990s.

As Buzz Lightyear in the first Toy Story, he imbued the character with ego, bluster and hubris, and kids and adults alike fell in love with the puffed up Officer of Star Command.

Article continues after ad

Such was the film’s success – grossing more than $360 million from a $30 million budget – that three sequels followed, with Allen voicing Buzz in each installment. Now however, the character is getting his own film, and Allen is no longer voicing the character.

What is Lightyear?

Buzz has a new crew in Lightyear.

Lightyear is a Toy Story spin-off that also serves as something of a prequel to the four movies. As Pixar have positioned Lightyear as the film on which the toy itself was based.

Confused? The movie sets proceedings up via the following words onscreen: “In 1995, a boy named Andy was given a Buzz Lightyear toy. It was taken from his favorite movie. This is that movie.”

Article continues after ad

What follows is an animated space adventure that revolves around astronaut Buzz Lightyear and his crew of both Space Rangers and scientists. All of which are new characters.

Why has Chris Evans replaced Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear?

Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear in the original Toy Story.

As this is a new iteration of the character, Pixar decided to give Buzz Lightyear a new voice. So Tim Allen was out, and Captain America himself – Chris Evans – was in.

Speaking to Vanity Fair, Lightyear director Angus MacLane explained: “Tim’s version of Buzz is a little goofier and is a little dumber, and so he is the comic relief. In this film, Buzz is the action hero. He’s serious and ambitious and funny, but not in a goofy way that would undercut the drama.”

Article continues after ad

So it’s far from a hard reset. Indeed, Evans told USA Today that he used Tim Allen’s performance as a guideline. “The reason we’re doing this movie is because Tim Allen made such an iconic impact,” Evans told the outlet. “Not only would you be a fool to not take his interpretation because it worked so well, but the truth is this character is in fact the human version of that toy, so there does need to be overlap in terms of their cadence and nature.”

What did Patricia Heaton say about Tim Allen being replaced?

Like Tim Allen, Patricia Heaton was also a 1990s sitcom star, playing Debra Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond for nine years. She’s also friends with Allen, and had this to say about the changeover…

Article continues after ad

“Saw the trailer for Buzz Lightyear” she Tweets. “And all I can say is Disney/Pixar made a HUGE mistake not casting my pal Tim Allen in the role that he originated, the role that he owns. Tim IS Buzz! Why would they completely castrate this iconic, beloved character?”

Predictably, Twitter is now questioning whether Buzz actually gets castrated in the new movie. Well I’ve seen the film, and can confirm that Buzz’s balls remain intact for the duration.

Lightyear – starring Chris Evans and not Tim Allen – hits screens this week, and you can read our review here.

Article continues after ad

UPDATE: Since we posted this story, Lightyear director Angus MacLane indirectly responded to Heaton’s Tweet, making reference to the fact that Patrick Warburton also voiced Buzz in a TV spin-off…