As Captain Rx-24 (Rex),in Star Tours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (1990-2010) Paul Reubens (The Pee-wee Herman Show, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Big Top Pee-wee, Pee-wee’s Playhouse) took Starspeeders to Endor and back daily. Ruebens tells D23 about working with George Lucas, trips to Florida, and voicing the iconic tour guide in Star Tours.
Had you been a fan of Disney World and Disneyland?
Paul Reubens: I am a huge fan of Disney World and Disneyland! Like most Baby Boomers, these parks and the Mickey Mouse Club played a significant role in my childhood. I was about three years old when I watched the opening of Disneyland live on TV. That moment was like the moon landing for little kids. I still remember it. I think every kid in America went to their parents and said, “Take me to Disneyland,” after that broadcast. I finally got to go when I was 12, when my family took a trip out west. It blew my mind back then and still does every time I go. I have family in Florida, and when I go back, we often visit the parks and I’m always struck by something new. There is nothing like it anywhere. I am in awe of the concept, execution and technology of Disney World. One of the perks I got from working on Star Tours and other Disney projects was a yearly pass, and I used it a lot. I took a lot of friends to the park and have many great memories from our visits. I’ve even had a helicopter tour of the Florida property, and I was struck by the vastness of the place. I’m also a graduate of California Institute of the Arts, conceived and endowed by Walt Disney himself. So I guess you could say Disney helped start my career.
What did you think when you were approached about being a part of Star Tours?
PR: I was beyond thrilled and said, “yes” right away. First, it was a chance to work with George Lucas, someone I admire very much. And it was getting to work with Disney and be part of a theme park ride that was going to change the way people experience theme park rides. It was so cool. It was the first flight simulator ride, which is still very much the standard today. There were so many reasons to be involved with Star Tours honestly, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. I’m so happy I did.
What did you think of Rex when you saw him?
PR: Unlike other animated projects I have worked on, I got to see the character pretty close to complete. Usually, it’s just a rough mock-up. But this was far along. I think George Lucas heard my voice in the film Flight of the Navigator and then I got asked to work on it. Regarding the performance, I tapped into the enthusiasm of someone getting to go on this fantastic ride. It was very easy, since I was pretty blown away by the whole experience. I was having the time of my life, as I imagine Rex was.
How was the recording process?
PR: The recording process was pretty straightforward. I only improvised a tiny bit. It was more about fitting a particular reaction into a specific amount of time. With this kind of work, I trusted the creative team behind creating the ride and followed their lead. It was such a joy to see the finished product. Friends called me and said, “The wait time is 45 minutes for this ride, is it worth it?” I said, “Absolutely! It will be a few of the coolest minutes of your life!”
Are people surprised to know you recorded Rex?
PR: People bring it up to me and ask me about it quite often. It’s a variation on Pee-wee’s voice, altered electronically, so it’s not that hard to connect the dots. It’s one of those things I am really happy to be a part of and thrilled to be recognized for.
For more interviews with the stars who added their talents and voices to many of Walt Disney World’s most beloved attractions, check out D23′s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith with Illeana Douglas, Honey I Shrunk the Audience and Journey into Imagination with Figment with Eric Idle, and ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter with Kathy Najimy.
Look for a series recap and more exclusive interviews with Walt Disney World attraction stars tomorrow.
By D23′s Jeffrey Epstein