It was early in story development and we were watching a story reel of the upcoming Pixar animated motion picture. My friends had been working on the story that even included a drive down the famous highway, Route 66 in order to enhance their storytelling efforts. At one point the well known highway was considered the film's title.
This was an early story reel and I enjoyed watching the storytelling in progress. You're probably already familiar with story development in animated films. There will be a fair number of iterations before the film moves into production. Even then, story work will continue until there simply isn't time or money to continue revisions. However, this was early on, and the motion picture still had a way to go.
This particular sequence took place on a racetrack and I suddenly noticed something interesting. One of the vehicles happened to be the “bad guy” and was voiced by actor, Michael Keaton. The talented Keaton provided the voice for “Chick Hicks” a somewhat arrogant racing hotshot competing with our hero, “Lightning McQueen.” But, it was the hood of the vehicle that caught my attention. Was that my name painted on the hood of the bad guy car?
Well, you probably already know I'm talking about the hit Pixar motion picture, “Cars.” The movie turned out to be another hit for the famous animation studio and it sold a heck of a lot of merchandise as well. Not long after the screening I made another trek north to speak with my old pal, Joe Ranft. Joe was Head of Story on the Pixar film, and was well known as Pixar's ace story guy. I couldn't help but be a little curious about the name on the hood of the “Chick Hicks” vehicle, so I naturally sought out Joe for an answer. “Is that my name on the hood,” I asked? Joe smiled and replied, “We're gonna have to change that name,” he said. “It's just not mean enough. This is a bad guy with a sponsor that should be as mean as he is. We're gonna go with a new name. Something like Hostile Takeover Bank. Now, that's mean.”
I had to admit, Joe was right. “Floyd” may have been funny, but it sure wasn't mean enough for a bad guy car. I did have a tinge of regret that day my name came off the car. In case you don't believe this wacky story I've included early development art of the “Chick Hicks” vehicle and the day I nearly became a Pixar villain.