[INTERVIEW] How Ally Maki’s arresting performance as Officer Giggle McDimples in ‘TOY STORY 4’ came together

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Bo Peep (voiced by Annie Potts) and Officer Giggle McDimples in TOY STORY 4. Courtesy of Pixar and Walt Disney Pictures.

Courtney Howard // Film Critic

Ally Maki’s “Officer Giggle McDimples” may not make her appearance until the midpoint of TOY STORY 4, but this pocket-sized character packs a punch. She’s optimistic. She’s irreverent. And she’s got a joyful laugh that comes in handy in almost any situation. Take a look below.

At the film’s Los Angeles press day, the affable actress said that she found the collaborative process to be creatively freeing when uncovering the true essence of Giggles.

The first thing I said when I went to the first session – because I didn’t know that much – was, “Is there something you want from me specifically? Do you want a character that’s higher or lower voice?” They were like, “No. We just want you to be 100% you. For every Pixar movie, we go through great lengths to cast the heart and soul and personality of the character.” Already, I felt so free to be myself in that moment to be the character and play different versions of her.

What the WRECKED star really relished was being able to get loud – something people typically tell her not to do.

They were like, “Let’s take this line to a level ten.” I was like, “Oh my gosh! This is the best job!” Most times, people are like, “Can you do less? Can you be less? Can you be quieter?” I did the line and they were like, “Now let’s take it to a level twelve.” And I was like, “Yay! This unlocks my true potential!” That was how much fun we had. It was going balls-to-the-wall, but still having the emotion behind it.

Maki wasn’t able to read the entire script when she got the call to come aboard.

They don’t send you anything beforehand. There’s no scripts. I didn’t know anything that was going on, which is wonderful because it takes you back to the main reason why you love performing and using your imagination. Really all you get is the scenes are these thick pieces of cardboard where there’s only one copy. The script coordinator would [display the pages] and you’ll do it and then they take them down and put them in the vault. That was how we operated. It was, “Here’s what’s happening. Woody is doing this and this and this. Now go!” It’s really about trusting your first basic instincts and what you’re feeling in that moment.

And her instincts were right on target as what she did on the first day wound up being what they preserved on the screen.

[Director Josh] Cooley told me that 85% of what’s Giggle McDimples in the movie was from our first recording session and the first thirty minutes of that session. To me, that meant a lot – that my first instincts and feelings for the character were what was really special.

Initially, her character had a vastly different look.

The very first iteration, she had a little pink bow on and purple dress. She was still the same feisty spirit, but over the months they were like, “We have a surprise for you. She is now a cop and we’ve given her a job. She’s the police chief of Mini-opolis.” Which I was then like, “Tell me more about Mini-opolis. That place sounds amazing. Where is it? What is it? How do we get there?” I’ve been telling them we’ve got to do the spin-off. We wanna know what’s happening in those pockets!

Mack, who sang in The Valli Girls alongside Este and Danielle Haim, has complete confidence that this fourth chapter in the TOY STORY franchise will equip kids with the tools they need to find their purpose early on.

It’s been a long journey for me since I started when I was so young. I was instantly boxed in at such a young age. I was 14 and was basically told, “You can only be this or this.” I lost my identity. So much of my career has been trying to rebuild that and trying to find it. What’s so great about this film is that we are able to give that to these young people at a young age so they don’t have to go through this. Of course they will go through the ups and downs of finding their true identity. But, for me, finding my self-worth mattered – as a human, as a woman of color, but as a woman of any race. I found a lot of confidence and identity just by being in this film.

TOY STORY 4 opens on June 21.

About author

Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.