His own toy story began 18 years ago. John Morris was a little boy, just 7 years old, and when he became part of Hollywood history he wasn't even paying attention — he was too busy playing with some X-Men action figures to notice that he had won the voice role of Andy, the earnest and imaginative youngster at the center of Pixar's "Toy Story" franchise.
"It was an open casting call for boys," Morris, now 25, recalled. "I knew I was there for a job. But, I mean, at that moment, it was just about me and my toys. I was playing and was in my own world. I think that's what got me the part. I was Andy."
"Toy Story 3" has already pulled in $459 million worldwide since its June 18 release and $1.31 billion as a franchise. More than that, the newest edition has earned some of the strongest reviews of any major studio release this year. No one marvels at that more than Morris.
"It's just amazing how many people still find the magic in these films," he said. "The characters ... they're like family. They hold a special place in your heart."
"Toy Story 3" centers on Andy on the eve of his big move to college. As he packs up for the future, he must deal with a bit of the past — should he pack away his beloved toys in the attic or just send them to the curb?
"It's a moment where childhood meets adulthood," Morris said. "Hanging on becomes harder and harder and you sort of have to let some things go. It's something everyone can relate to."
Morris was faced with the same decision with his own playthings just before starting college at UCLA in 2003.
"Some of them I gave to my little sister," he said. "Some of them I saved in the attic to give to my future kids. The rest I sort of displayed on a shelf. You don't realize how hard it is to let some of them go until you're faced with it."
When it came time to voice the last scene in this newest installment, Morris said it was almost like saying goodbye to childhood.
"It was such an emotional scene," Morris said. "It's like suddenly you're an adult and you have to say goodbye to being a kid and all that childlike wonder. And it was emotional on a whole other level for me because this character has been my life. There was so much depth in that scene for me. I mean, we grew up together, he and I."