Exclusive Interview with ‘Toy Story 4’ Star Madeleine McGraw

Although it’s been short, ten year old Madeleine McGraw has already had an impressive career, having worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood from Bradley Cooper in American Sniper to Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly in Marvel’s Ant Man and the Wasp.

On June 21, 2019, Toy Story 4 hits theaters and she will lend her voice to young Bonnie, the current owner and caretaker of Buzz, Woody and their newest friend Forky. She is no stranger to the Disney Pixar world, having previously voiced Maddy McGear in Cars 3 (and getting a car named after her — how cool!).

I had the chance to interview Maddy about her career so far, whether she got to work with Tom Hanks and Tim Allen and her advice for kids pursuing a career in acting! Read on to learn a little bit about this mega-talented kid.

You are such a busy kid, between your modeling, acting and voice over work. Which kind of work are you liking the best so far?

I actually love them all. As different as they are, they all require emotion. They allow me to explore so many different sides of myself. I feel I always learn something new.

You’ve had some pretty great roles throughout your career so far. Which one has been your favorite and why?

I have truly loved them all. I honestly couldn’t choose. I have met very special people along the way and for that I am beyond grateful. I really appreciate any chance I get to make a new and meaningful relationship. For instance, Outcast brought Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous) into my life and I am cannot express my gratitude for that relationship enough. He is super smart and super wise and is always really honest with me with my acting. I turn to him a lot when a tough audition comes in. Also, I was cast in a short film when I was 6, Lucy in My Eyes, written and directed by Megan Park. Since that time, I have worked with her on numerous projects. She is an incredible friend and mentor to me. Whenever she asks me to be a part of something she is working on, I jump at the chance. She inspires me every day.

Do you watch yourself in a project once it’s out or is it weird for you to watch (or listen to) yourself on screen?

I will watch sometimes. But it is super weird to watch. I am extremely critical of my performances.

What advice do you have for other kids your age who want to get into this business?

First of all, it’s really hard. You are going to hear no a lot and even if you don’t hear no a lot in the beginning, there will come a time when you do, so you better have super thick skin, or it will break you down. You have to try and not take it personally. You just might not be their vision for the role, but it doesn’t mean your audition was bad. I get amazing feedback a lot, but I don’t always book the role. I have had a lot of heartbreak this past year, but I have also grown and learned the most this past year too. I would also say if it is really something you are passionate about, then keep believing in yourself and trust that the role that’s right for you will come along when it’s supposed to.

You made your film debut alongside Bradley Cooper in American Sniper. Did you get to spend a lot of time with him? What was that like?

Bradley Cooper was really nice. I was just 5 at the time and it was my first big job. I had no idea who Bradley Cooper was. I was just super excited to be working on a big movie. Now I look back and am like, “Holy cow, I worked with the AMAZING Bradley Cooper.” He was always in character and even though I was so little, I paid attention. His work ethic and commitment to the character is something I have taken with me to all of my jobs. I truly hope to work with him again someday.

Not only did you get to voice a car in Disney Pixar’s Cars 3, it was named after you! Super cool! Did you get to name your car or did they choose that for you? How did that feel getting a car named after you in a Pixar movie?

Oh my gosh!! Pixar called and asked if they could name the car after me. They picked the name. When we got off the phone, I looked at my mom and just screamed. I still can’t believe Maddy McGear is an actual Pixar character. I will always feel so humbled and honored!!

Your next project is voicing Bonnie in the highly-anticipated, Toy Story 4. Since she’s so well known in the Toy Story world, did you feel any pressure giving a voice to Bonnie?

I was so young (5 years old) so I didn’t really understand pressure. I just knew I wanted to do a good job and I didn’t want to let Emily Hahn, who gave voice to Bonnie first, down. Josh Cooley (Director) never made me feel like I had to do Bonnie a certain way. We just had so much fun recording. I was always sad when our recording sessions were over. It’s such a special feeling being in the booth and bringing life to an animated character, especially a character in such a special franchise.

Were you in the booth at the same time as Tom Hanks and Tim Allen? If so, what was that like?

Unfortunately no. I recorded all of my dialogue solo. My brother Jack is voicing Young Andy, so I got to watch him record and I thought that was pretty cool. I was really proud of him.

Any other fun projects coming up?

There are a few things in the works, but nothing I can really talk about. Both my brothers and my sister work as actors too. So, we sort of take turns. Right now my little sister Violet is working a lot and since we only have two parents, and my dad has a normal job, we can all only commit to so much. When a project comes in, we sit down as a family and talk about what that means for everyone if we commit to it. My mom and dad always ask for our thoughts and make sure everyone is on board before we say yes to something.

Let’s end this with a few fun questions. You got to play the younger version of Evangeline Lilly’s Hope in Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp. So who is your favorite Avenger and why?

I love them all really. My brothers, sister and I are such Marvel nerds! I can go down the list and pick reasons why I love each of them. Spiderman (Tom Holland) is definitely at the top of the list though. I am counting down the days until the next Spiderman movie. 36 days, 14 hours, 4 minutes and 47 seconds to be exact!

What do you like to study in school and what do you NOT like to study in school?

I really like school! Math is definitely my favorite subject. I always get so excited when we are about to learn something new in math. The subject I like the least…hmmmm, I don’t think there is one. Learning is fun!

What do you like to do while you’re on set and you get some down time?

One of my favorite things to do on set when I have free time, is to hang out in wardrobe, the makeup trailer or with the stunt crew. I love watching and learning. I get extra excited when we have a special effects makeup artist on set. Watching them create cool effects with makeup always blows my mind.

Lastly, we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?

I am currently nerding out about Chris Colfer and his book series, The Land of Stories! I am already on the third book and I can’t read it fast enough. OBSESSED! I even tweeted him and told him I got 100% on my Accelerated Reader test at school and he tweeted me back!! I nerded out BIG TIME!!!

Make sure you follow Madeleine on Twitter and Instagram. Toy Story 4 is out in theaters on June 21st.

Photo Credits: Photographer – JSquared Photography, Hair – Gui Schoedler, Make-up- Desirae Cherman, Stylist – Jessica Margolis

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