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Chris Evans on voicing Buzz Lightyear — and that Boston accent slip

“It happens sometimes,” says the Boston-born, Sudbury-raised actor, who plays a lost Space Ranger trying to get home in “Lightyear.”

Chris Evans attends the world premiere of Disney and Pixar's feature film "Lightyear" at El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, Calif., on June 8, 2022.Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

The buzz is strong for Pixar’s latest release, “Lightyear,” the origin story behind the “Toy Story” character. But it’s the actor behind Buzz Lightyear who recently caused a stir when fans heard a clip of his Boston accent slipping out during a recent Access Hollywood interview.

“What do you prefer? Mustache or no mustache?” he asks a correspondent in the video. “Be honest, be honest.”

That was enough to send netizens over the edge. “Chris Evans Boston accent” trended on Twitter, inspiring headlines like “Chris Evans’ Boston Accent Slipped, And People Were Wicked Turned On.

But back to the movie. “Lightyear” tells the story of Buzz Lightyear, the hero who inspired the creation of Tim Allen’s action-figure character in “Toy Story.” As the titular Space Ranger, Evans is determined to find a way home after getting stranded on a hostile planet.


The Globe caught up with Evans, who was born in Boston and raised in Sudbury, to talk about the movie, toys, and where he thinks Buzz would go in Beantown.

Q. What was the process of preparing this role like for you? Was it more challenging to prepare for this voice-acted role versus a live-action role?

A. It is certainly challenging in the sense that you really only have one string to play on. As an actor, you’re more used to playing off of the world around you, whether it’s other actors or a tangible set environment.

When you’re alone in the booth, you end up really focusing on your voice, sometimes to a fault. It can almost feel stifling. You give a certain line or delivery that feels grounded, and then you hear it back and it would almost feel flat. You start to realize that there’s a lot more room to add more color and life to lines, and they don’t feel over the top. In fact, they fit nicely. So it’s a growing process, trying to acclimate to the more limited tools you have to convey the story.


Q. Speaking of your voice, there’s a clip circulating of you where people say your Boston accent slipped out. Have you seen it?

A. Oh, really? … It happens sometimes.

Q. As an actor, you have toys made of you. How do you feel about being a toy?

A. It’s fun. Listen, I grew up loving not just the films, but the toys of the films I loved. Anything to be a part of those memories for the next generation is really something that I take seriously and something I’m honored to be a part of.

The definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear (voice of Chris Evans), the hero who inspired the toy “Lightyear,” follows the legendary Space Ranger on an intergalactic adventure.Disney/Pixar

Q. Do you have a favorite toy [in your likeness]?

A. Oh God, good question, probably Captain America.

Q. Buzz as a character is kind of an unconventional protagonist. The role is really different from other roles that you are known for, like Captain America, because his arc is about not trying to play the hero all the time. How did this role change your understanding of what it means to be a hero?

A. The hero of every story is meant to be something we can identify with. Julianne Moore once said, “The audience doesn’t come to see you, the audience comes to see themselves.” So even the heroes of our stories are meant to be relatable. They’re meant to be people we identify with. The fact that the hero in this story is someone who is having to process making mistakes, and understanding that your mistakes don’t define you, couldn’t be any more human and relatable.


Q. Do you think you go to the movies to see yourself?

A. Sure, we all do. It’s why we go to the movies. It’s why we read stories. We are a myth-making people. We tell ourselves tales to see ourselves in the world.

Q. A lot of stories are about one thing on the surface but are really about some universal theme. At the heart of it, what do you think “Lightyear” is really about?

A. There are a couple themes. One is understanding that the idea of home is usually just a mental construct. It can be anywhere you choose to make it.

The broader theme, I thought, was about understanding that your mistakes don’t have to be the thing that defines you. Choosing to live in them is actually what stunts growth, and mistakes are actually, with the right perspective, an opportunity to evolve.

Disney and Pixar’s “Lightyear” follows the legendary Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (voice of Chris Evans) on an intergalactic adventure alongside a group of ambitious recruits (voices of Keke Palmer, Taika Waititi, and Dale Soules), and their robot companion Sox (voice of Peter Sohn). Disney/Pixar

Q. I know you’re from the Boston area — do you have any Boston movie theaters or other local haunts that you miss?

A. The one I used to go to as a kid was the AMC in Framingham on Flutie Pass. Parents would drop you off on a Friday night, and someone else’s parents would pick you up. That was the main movie theater that I would attend. It’s where a lot of my memories are.


Q. Where do you think Buzz would go in Boston?

A. He’d probably enjoy the science museum. It seems like it’s right up his alley.

Q. What do you think the role of animated movies that are primarily marketed toward kids have in creating conscientious and engaged citizens?

A. Movies in general have an opportunity to show us ourselves in a new light and breed empathy and understanding. I think most of the time when social issues seem to stall in their evolution, it’s because of a lack of understanding. Movies certainly have a nice key to that lock.

This interview was edited and condensed.

Serena Puang was a Globe intern in 2022. Follow her on Twitter @SerenaPuang.