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During the actor’s appearance Monday on The Tonight Show, he explained to host Jimmy Fallon that he and frequent collaborator Peele were able to improvise during their scenes in Toy Story 4.
The duo star in the film as new characters Ducky and Bunny.
“They let us do a lot of improvisation, which was really lovely because we got to record together,” he said. “In animated movies, very often you’re only recording by yourself and so the fact that we got to interact with each other was really, really helpful.”
“They put a bunch of lyrics down for us one day and said, ‘Once you guys find out that this thing’s gonna happen, we wonder if you could just kind of burst into song.’ And we’re like, ‘Oh yeah, whatever song you want,'” he recalled. “They were like, ‘No, we don’t really have the song. Could you write a song right now?'”
Key said that he shared a “weird” moment with Peele in which they two looked at each other and immediately burst into song. “We got a kid, we got a kid,” he began to sing before he mumbled his way through the rest of the song.
He added that they sang that song, as well as three other songs. “We sang for 20 minutes straight. They were recorded for about 30 minutes,” Key said. “There’s about five seconds of it in the movie.”
Earlier in the appearance, Key spoke about the pressure he felt to star in Toy Story 4 and The Lion King.
“I’m definitely freaking out because it’s these two movies, especially these two movies. It’s not like you’re just making Super Cartoon 6,” he said. “They’re American institutions. 100 percent.”
“I feel like I’m Betsy Ross and they’re like, ‘We need another star in that flag. We want Keegan to sew it,'” he joked.
He added that both film franchises are “sewn into the fabric of American culture.”
Key revealed that he prepared to play a hyena in the new film by watching the 1994 animated film. In the original film, the hyenas were voiced by Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin and Jim Cummings, who was “the hyena that was on crack.”
“I’m doing my regular voice. I was ready to do something special,” he said, though director Jon Favreau “really wanted us to bring as much of ourselves to it as possible.”
After both Key and Fallon praised the film’s animation, the host also shared that he is a fan of the soundtrack.
While Key said that he did not get to sing in the film, he revealed that he “offered to sing.” He recalled, “I said, ‘Do you guys want me to do ‘Circle of Life?’ They’re like, ‘We got Beyoncé. That’s all right.'”
He added that he dreaded doing press for the film because of Beyoncé’s involvement in it. “You’re just gonna be on the carpet and they’re just gonna go, ‘So Lion King…Beyoncé,'” he said as he impersonated a reporter. “‘So Beyoncé’s in it.'”
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