Why isn't Tim Allen in 'Lightyear'? Pixar star breaks silence on recasting controversy

Watch: Lightyear trailer

Buzz Lightyear is back. Three years after the release of Toy Story 4, Pixar's iconic character has returned with his own spin-off film.

Lightyear, which is now streaming on Disney+, tells the origin story of the action figure and his adventures to infinity and beyond.

But the character sounds a little different to the Space Ranger who appeared in all four Toy Story movies.

That's because Tim Allen, who voiced Buzz Lightyear in the beloved franchise, has been replaced by Marvel star Chris Evans.

The move to recast Allen has prompted confusion from fans, but there is a simple reason why Evans was picked to be the new voice of Buzz.

Why isn't Tim Allen voicing Buzz in Lightyear?

'Toy Story 4' is one of the most recent Pixar releases showing up on Disney+ in the UK. (Credit: Pixar/Disney)
Buzz Lightyear and Woody in Toy Story 4. (Pixar/Disney)

Lightyear isn't about the Buzz Lightyear toy featured in the Toy Story films. Instead, it focuses on the hero who inspired the toy.

"I've always wondered what movie was Buzz from," director-screenwriter Angus MacLane told Yahoo earlier this year.

"Why couldn't we just make that movie? So that's what we did.... [Lightyear is] the movie that Andy saw that changed his life… Andy's Star Wars."

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 08: Chris Evans attends Disney And Pixar's
Marvel star Chris Evans has replaced Tim Allen as the voice of Buzz Lightyear. (WireImage)

Pixar took the decision to replace Tim Allen with Chris Evans in the spin-off because they wanted to differentiate between the two characters.

MacLane told Vanity Fair: "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.

"Chris Evans has the gravitas and that movie-star quality that our character needed to separate him and the movie from Tim's version of the toy in Toy Story."

What has Chris Evans said about the role?

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 08: Chris Evans attends the World Premiere of Disney and Pixar's feature film
Chris Evans attends the world premiere of Disney and Pixar's Lightyear. (Getty Images for Disney)

Evans has admitted that taking on the role of Buzz Lightyear was "intimidating".

The actor, best known for his role as Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, said: "I used Tim Allen as a guideline.

Read more: 22 Disney and Pixar in-jokes that will blow your mind

"He did such a good job, and I'd be a fool not to acknowledge the work he did. But I couldn't just do a shameless impression.

"I had to somehow create my own understanding of the character, and try to make some fresh tracks in the snow while paying homage to the great work that he did.

"Eventually I felt comfortable enough to make my own interpretation, and part of that was lowering the tone of my voice. I basically have to lower the register of my voice in everything that I do."

What have Tim Allen and Tom Hanks said?

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 04:  Actor Tim Allen (L) and Buzz Lightyear attend the official opening of the new Tomorrowland attraction
Tim Allen voiced Buzz Lightyear in all four Toy Story films. (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Absent from the press interviews for the Pixar movie, Tim Allen remained silent about being replaced by Chris Evans in the run up to its release.

However, once Lightyear hit cinemas, Allen spoke to Extra about why he failed to speak up.

"The short answer is I've stayed out of this 'cause it has nothing to do [with my Buzz Lightyear]," Allen said.

"It's a wonderful story," the actor said of Lightyear. "It just doesn’t seem to have any connection to the toy... It's just no connection. I wish there was a better connection."

Woody and Buzz. (Pixar)
Woody and Buzz. (Pixar)

Talking about Buzz branching on his own, Allen added: "It's [Tom] Hanks and I. There's really no Toy Story Buzz without Woody."

Despite rumours that he had been cold-shouldered by Disney, Allen continues to work with the studio on his upcoming Disney+ series The Santa Clauses, in which he returns as Scott Calvin.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - JUNE 08: In this Handout provided by Disney Resorts, Stars from DisneyPixars Toy Story 4 Woody (in costume), Tom Hanks (2nd-L), Tim Allen (2nd-R) and Buzz Lightyear (in costume) appear with characters from the film inside Toy Story Land at Disneys Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort on June 8, 2019 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Matt Stroshane/Disney Resorts via Getty Images)
Tom Hanks and Tim Allen in 2019. (Matt Stroshane/Disney Resorts via Getty Images)

In a strange quirk of fate, Tim Allen's Toy Story co-star Tom Hanks had his new movie Elvis out the week after Lightyear, putting Woody and Buzz head-to-head at the box office.

"How about that?" Hanks told CinemaBlend. "Actually, I wanted to go head-to-head with Tim Allen, and then they didn't let Tim Allen do it. I don't understand that."

Who else is in the Lightyear cast?

Lightyear is in cinemas from 17 June, 2022. (Pixar/Disney)
Pixar's Lightyear landed in cinemas on 17 June. (Pixar/Disney)

Lightyear follows Buzz after he is marooned on a hostile planet 4.2 million light-years from Earth.

He must work with a group of new recruits, including Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi) and Darby Steel (Dale Soules), to find a way back home.

The mission is commanded by Alisha Hawthorne, voiced by Orange is the New Black star Uzo Abuda.

MYSTERIOUS PRESENCE – In Disney and Pixar’s “Lightyear,” Buzz (voice of Chris Evans) finds himself up against the imposing captain of an alien spaceship that shows up at the hostile planet Buzz has called home for years. Voiced by James Brolin, Zurg has an army of ruthless robots and a mysterious mission. Directed by Angus MacLane (co-director “Finding Dory”) and produced by Galyn Susman (“Toy Story That Time Forgot”), the sci-fi action-adventure opens in U.S. theaters on June 17, 2022.© 2021 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.
Buzz finds himself up against Zurg in Lightyear. (Disney/Pixar)

James Brolin plays Buzz's arch-nemesis Emperor Zurg, while Keke Palmer voices Alisha's granddaughter Izzy Hawthorne.

Peter Sohn, who directed Pixar's 2015 film The Good Dinosaur, lends his voice to Buzz's robot cat companion Sox.

Lightyear is streaming on Disney+ now.