'Toy Story' at 25: John Ratzenberger channeled 'Cheers' character Cliff Clavin for piggy bank Hamm

Kevin Polowy
·Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment
·2 min read

Of course Toy Story’s Hamm, the wisecracking piggy bank, sounds like Cliff Clavin, the wisecracking postman from the seminal ‘80s sitcom Cheers. They’re both voiced by the same man, John Ratzenberger.

In a 2019 Role Recall interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Ratzenberger admitted the characters’ voices were really one in the same.

“That was really the voice of Cliff Clavin,” the actor, now 73, said (watch above).

The opening of Toy Story, which turns 25 Sunday, Nov. 22, not only launched the nearly infallible Pixar Animation Studios into prominence, it’s coincided with an incredible run by Ratzenberger. Continuing through this winter’s Soul, Ratzenberger has voiced a role in every single Pixar-produced film. That’s a whopping 23 movies straight, earning Ratzenberger the title of “Pixar’s good luck charm” and oftentimes leading fans on an Easter egg hunt to pick out his sometimes-disguised drawl.

“Everyone, from college age to 1-year-old, knows the sound of my voice,” Ratzenberger beamed during our interview.

John Ratzenberger Toy Story
Hamm (left), John Ratzenberger (right). (Photo: Pixar, Getty Images)

It helped that he was in on the ground floor, when the future computer-animation giant was still essentially functioning as a startup before revolutionizing the genre with the release of Toy Story.

“At the very beginning no one had really heard of Pixar, when they asked me to do the voice of the pig. I said, ‘Absolutely. Sounds like fun.’ And then when I started working with them, I said, ‘Boy, they do all the heavy lifting. The actor really doesn’t have much to do.’ All you really do is listen to what they tell you.”

That simple formula landed Ratzenberger eventual roles in A Bug’s Life (1998), the Cars trilogy (2006-2017), WALL-E (2008), Up (2009), Brave (2012) and Inside Out (2015). While he insists there was never a point where it was agreed he’d appear in every film, the offers just keep coming.

Story originally published Feb. 15, 2019.

Toy Story is currently streaming on Disney+.

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