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There's lots of buzz over a particular scene in Lightyear, and now the filmmakers and star are ready to address the controversy.
As Variety reported in March, a same-sex kiss from Pixar’s upcoming Toy Story spinoff was initially cut from the animated feature, only to be restored after LGBTQ employees and allies at the Disney-owned company sent a joint statement to studio executives protesting the censorship of “overtly gay affection.”
The studio’s about-face came as Disney was under increased scrutiny from its workforce over the corporation’s perceived lax response to Florida’s controversial so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Related video: Pixar reinstates 'Lightyear' same-sex kiss after backlash over Disney's response to Florida's 'Don't Say Gay' bill
“We always intended for that relationship to be in there,” Lightyear director Angus MacLane (Finding Dory) tells Yahoo Entertainment in regards to the marriage between Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) — best friend and fellow Space Ranger to Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) — and the wife she grows old with. “We had this [kiss] in there, and they were like, ‘This is the way we’re gonna do it now…’
“What you saw is what we wanted, so I’m really pleased with the end result. We’re just surprised it was such a brouhaha.”
MacLane means he’s surprised that the studio initially took issue with the scene, not that its employees complained about its expulsion.
The scene will cost Disney some business: As reported on Monday, Lightyear is being banned in 14 Middle Eastern and Asian countries because of the kiss, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Egypt, Indonesia and Malaysia. Though it’s hardly the first major Hollywood movie to be shunned from those nations.
“The whole point is to show a loving, lasting relationship, because… well isn’t that a nice modeling to have for everybody? That we have a relationship that lasts an entire lifetime,” producer Galyn Susman tells Yahoo Entertainment.
Aduba, the Orange Is the New Black breakout who voices Alisha, also expressed her gratitude to Pixar for reinstating the scene — and Disney continuing to take a broader stance when it comes to representation and inclusion.
“I’m glad that it’s there,” Aduba tells Yahoo. “This movie is opening up a whole new world to how stories can be told, how stories can be revisited. And I think it’s amazing that Disney-Pixar has chosen to take that space to not only include moments like that, but include so many different faces, and so many stories into a film so that every kid — young and old — sitting in those audiences can see a piece of themselves in the story.”
Lightyear opens Friday.
Watch the trailer: