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PLANES

Propwash Crew
Filmmakers at Disneytoon Studios wanted to populate the world of "Disney's Planes" with the kind of characters that would resonate with audiences worldwide. The colorful cast spans the globe -- from the fictional Midwest town of Propwash Junction to faraway places like India and Mexico -- with similarly diverse personalities. Helping to bring the characters to life on the big screen is an extraordinary voice cast that features an array of talented performers.

Dusty is a plane with high hopes -- literally. Crop duster by trade, this single-prop plane sees himself soaring alongside his high-flying heroes in an international race. The fact that he's not really built for competitive racing doesn't deter him from pursuing his dream -- but his fear of heights just might. With a little help from his friends -- and a WWII vet with wisdom to spare -- Dusty takes off on an adventure of a lifetime, going prop-to-prop with champions while daring to reach heights he never imagined possible.

Director Klay Hall says he relates to the crop duster that could. "This whole movie and my experience working on it parallels Dusty's story in a lot of ways. We started small, worked really hard, and through a series of fortunate events have been able to go farther than we imagined."

Dane Cook, who was called on to provide the voice of Dusty, also sees a connection with his character. "As a kid, it took me a lot of years to find my place, my voice," says Cook. "I couldn't even speak in class -- I was afraid to put my hand up and yet I wanted to entertain the world. My journey -- much like Dusty's -- was one of digging down deep and finding something inside myself that would help me to exceed my own expectations."

According to Hall, Cook helped give Dusty the kind of edge he'd need to tackle the racing circuit. "Once we saw Dane do some of his stand-up and watched a couple of his movies, it just clicked. His voice is on the deeper side with a bit of sarcasm -- dry wit -- to it. We liked how that supported the character's intense passion for racing as well as his sense of humor."

A reclusive old Navy Corsair, Skipper Riley was an ace flier and top instructor of the esteemed Jolly Wrenches squadron until an incident during a combat mission took him off the front lines and left him grounded for life. These days, Skipper keeps to himself, but his quiet existence is turned upside down when an ambitious and persistent Dusty solicits Skipper's aerial expertise -- and gets a few life lessons in the process.

Writer Jeff Howard saw Skipper as the film's patriarch. "He's very protective of Dusty and wants to train him hard so he races well and stays safe," says Howard. "He sees a bit of his old charges from World War II in Dusty and doesn't want him to get hurt."

Skipper -- who's never really come to terms with his past -- finds that he has a few things to learn, too, and while coaching Dusty to fly faster and smarter, the teacher becomes the student.

"Skipper is able to overcome something that has been a thorn in his side and the cause of a lot of guilt for many years," says veteran actor Stacy Keach, who provides the voice of Skipper. "The story is beautifully mapped out in that respect because we discover that the relationship between Skipper and Dusty is good for them both."

Leadbottom is a puttering old biplane and a grumbling taskmaster, a real "tank-half-empty" kind of guy. As the proprietor of Vitaminamulch, a special -- albeit putrid -- blend of vitamins, minerals and mulch that works miracles when sprayed on crops, Leadbottom has no time for Dusty's far-fetched flights of fancy. There are too many crops to spray and not enough hours in the day to spray them. For Leadbottom, it's work first, then ... well, more work.

Cedric the Entertainer gives voice to Leadbottom. "Cedric is very warm and engaged in the role," says Hall. "He liked to joke around a lot. Working with high-caliber comedians like Cedric was a bonus. The goal was to get what was in the script first then forget about what's on the page and have some fun."

Dottie is a forklift who co-owns and operates Chug and Dottie's Fill 'n Fly service station. As Dusty's practical and say-it-like-it-is friend -- not to mention his ace mechanic -- Dottie hopes to keep his high-flying hopes grounded in reality: Dusty isn't built to race and chasing his dream is downright dangerous. No matter what he decides, however, Dottie will always have his back.

"I love Dottie; she's such a loyal friend to Dusty," says producer Traci Balthazor-Flynn. "She's strong and intelligent and she's not afraid to show it. We have such a powerful female presence in this film."

Filmmakers cast Teri Hatcher as the voice of the pragmatic Dottie. "This story is very relatable and incredibly charming," says Hatcher. "It's an everyman's story: you have a certain set of skills, but you dream of something bigger. Do you have the guts to go out and follow that dream or will you let your fears stand in your way? Dottie wants to support her friend in his pursuits, but she's concerned about him and worried he'll get hurt. I think she grows and eventually accepts that holding back is probably not the way to live life, and that Dusty should just go for it and follow his dreams."

Fuel truck Chug is a guy's guy. "He's Dusty's right-hand man, best friend and pal," says Dan Abraham, head of story for "Disney's Planes." "But he's not the smartest bulb in the lamp."

The co-owner of Chug and Dottie's Fill 'n Fly service station works hard and plays hard, indulging in his own fuel from time to time. He has a big personality and is a bold supporter of Dusty's high-flying endeavors. Indeed, he's not only Dusty's buddy, he's his coach and biggest fan. And if Chug can't help Dusty reach new heights, he'll find someone who can.

Brad Garrett brings the fuel truck to life. "We knew that Dusty needed a really funny and lovable sidekick and Brad Garrett has always been a favorite of mine," says Hall. "I loved him in 'Everybody Loves Raymond' and I've seen him do his stand-up. He's a really funny guy."

Chug posed a few challenges for the animation team. "Chug has a separate cab and body," says Sheryl Sackett, animation director. "It seemed perfect at first -- we could move the cab like a head. But he didn't feel right. John Lasseter suggested we treat him as a solid piece, without bending or moving him too much, and it turned out to be the key to making Chug work. He feels heavy, like a fuel truck should."

Every war vet needs a diehard supporter like Sparky. The loyal, eager-to-please pitty is always there to lend a helping wrench to Skipper or give the grounded plane a tow. The two go way back -- Sparky is all too aware of Skipper's history and has a lot of respect for the old Corsair, but he still hopes to see the day when Skipper is able to return to the skies he was built to fly. Danny Mann is the voice of Sparky.

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