Timothy Dalton has been a part of many stories, but none quite like “Toy Story.”
That’s why the former James Bond is happy to reprise his “Toy Story 3” voice role as overtly theatrical hedgehog Mr. Pricklepants in ABC’s new, animated Disney/Pixar special “Toy Story OF TERROR!” Wednesday, Oct. 16.
The Halloween-season tale – setting the other toys on a search after one of their own vanishes during a road trip – also restores Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as cowboy Woody and spaceman Buzz Lightyear, with Don Rickles, Joan Cusack, John Ratzenberger, Michael Keaton and Wallace Shawn among other returnees. Carl Weathers (“Rocky”) is a voice-cast newcomer.
Dalton has many stage classics in his background, encompassing works by William Shakespeare and Noel Coward, so he admits he has great fun with Mr. Hedgehog’s taking-himself-too-seriously mode.
“I’m still figuring out how to play him,” the Welsh-born actor allows to Zap2it, “but I’m really pleased by everything I see, so fingers crossed that it’s still going well.”
The part gives Dalton a wide spectrum of attitudes to perform. “I think he’s kind of sweet and vulnerable at times,” he says, “but also pompous and bad-tempered and all the rest of it. And the look is wonderfully odd … a hedgehog in lederhosen. I like him.”
Moreover, Dalton appreciates that “everyone’s so good in these things. I’m just knocked out by them, and it’s lovely to work with them, from [original ‘Toy Story’ director] John Lasseter down. It’s just a joy.”
Dalton also worked for Disney as the villain in the 1991 movie “The Rocketeer,” and he says of Pixar (which Disney now owns), “At whatever level people are in the company, they strive for excellence. They won’t let go of something until it’s as good as they possibly can make it, and it is so exciting to work with people like that.”
Though he’s usually the only “Toy Story” talent recording his lines at a given time, Dalton notes, “You do it with a whole bunch of people looking at you. They’re obviously contributing hugely behind the scenes, but I stand in front of them with a microphone — the director, the producers, the sound engineers, sometimes even the graphic artists who look to see what faces you’re making.
“It isn’t easy doing lines in a blank world,” adds Dalton, “but it’s fun because you’ve got time and you can throw them around and play with them. You’re still not always sure it’s going to work, so when you see it and it all fits in, you know what a marvelous job they do.”
Rumors have been bountiful about Dalton playing another icon, manservant Alfred to Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight in 2015’s “Batman vs. Superman.” He wouldn’t confirm those at this writing, but for now, more television is in store: After such miniseries as “Sins” and “Scarlett” and a guest arc as a spy [again] on “Chuck,” he’s filming the Showtime psychological thriller “Penny Dreadful.”
The project teams him with several other 007-series veterans, actors Eva Green (“Casino Royale”) and Rory Kinnear (“Skyfall”) and executive producers Sam Mendes and John Logan (“Skyfall”).
“I keep banging the same drum, but it’s a drum worth banging,” Dalton reflects. “Work is really exciting, and generally really good, when you’re working with good people. Logan has to be considered among the Top 10 living screenwriters, and he’s written a really interesting piece of work here.”