When you think back to the first Toy Story, you may remember Bo Peep, the sheep herder in a pretty pink dress and three conjoined sheep at her feet. Or, maybe it’s a little foggy since she was absent from Toy Story 3, but Woody’s boo thang is back in the fourth installment of the Disney and Pixar franchise and she’s stronger than ever before.
Without giving too much away, audiences will swiftly learn that Bo Peep becomes a lost toy (which is the ultimate toy nightmare). She’s basically discarded, but after years apart, Woody and Bo are reunited. He sees her porcelain exterior is a little chipped, but her spirit and charm are more than intact as she is surviving and thriving the unknown all on he own. She’s strong, daring, and bold, though it’s important to note she has always been, she’s just stepping into it in her own right. So much so, she’s wearing her skirt as a cape and using her herding staff as a weapon. The girl is resourceful!
Before Bo becomes solo, she is an integral part of an operation to save a fellow toy from becoming lost. Story artist Carrie Hobson explained the significance of the opening scene. “We wanted to show that Bo was an equal leader to Woody — really stress this,” Hobson said. “Once Molly had her own bedroom, Woody is in Andy’s room. Bo is in Molly’s room. They are both leaders. We show this simply through her leading the operation to save the toy outside.”
Bo is not only inspiring, but quite liberating to watch as she marvels on screen without feeling like a caricature of what a strong female lead might look like under a male guise. And that’s because an entire team of women were behind the mastery that is Toy Story 4 Bo Peep. From her porcelain texture, to her new ensemble, and even facial expressions – the Bo team was on it.
Drawing from the likes of Meryl (yes, Streep) and other boss babes, Hobson said the key was making sure she was just like all of us. “We looked to the important women in our lives and considered how all of us would react in certain situations. When she reunites with Woody, would there be awkwardness, would she want to catch-up, where would they start?”
“We had a constant dialogue about her and how she would be represented,” added directing animator Becki Tower.
Fans can rest assured that Bo sounds just the same, as Annie Potts returned to voice the iconic character. “Annie not only brings emotion to Bo, she completely fleshes out that character,” said director Josh Cooley. “She’s heartwarming and funny, and Annie has a natural sarcasm that’s just perfect.”
When it comes down to it, Bo Peep may have been absent for 20 years, but her bold and relatable personality makes it feel she never left. Maybe it’s because it feels as if there is a little Bo Peep in all of us. “It was important that women and girls see that she can be strong, independent, and flawed,” added Hobson.
Bo Peep is joined by a slew of new characters including the first female villain Gabby Gabby, the Polly Pocket-like Giggles McDimples, Benson the ventriloquist dummy, Duke Caboom action figure voiced by Keanu Reeves, Forky the craft project, and plush toys Ducky and Bunny voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, respectively.
Toy Story 4 opens in theaters everywhere June 21.
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