One of the biggest questions raised by Steven Spielberg's confounding A.I.: Artificial Intelligence — which pulled in $30 million during its opening weekend — concerns Haley Joel Osment's trusty companion, Teddy. Specifically, what was a cuddly, lovable stuffed bear doing with such a deep, scary voice? It's a quandary that even baffles Jack Angel — the voice behind the plush toy.
"I asked every person on the [A.I.] set if they were casting the part of Teddy, would they have chosen that voice, and everyone said, 'No,'" Angel tells TV Guide Online. "Steven said, 'That's right!' He marches to a different drummer."
But, as Angel first explained to A.I. co-star Robin Williams (who voices Dr. Know), it would be unwise to judge Teddy by his raspy vocals. "Robin was recording his little part, and [he said], 'Teddy sounds so malevolent.' And I said, 'Only because you don't know him. When you get to know him and he gets unwrapped, he's such a nice bear you love him.'"
Despite having taped all of his lines in a separate studio, Angel — whose previous credits include the computer-animated blockbusters Toy Story II and A Bug's Life, as well as the forthcoming Monsters Inc. — spent a great deal of time on the A.I. set. "Steven wanted me there every day because he said Teddy was such an important character that he wanted to be able to change things as we went along," he recalls. "I really had a ringside seat. I could go stand next to Steven no matter where he was; we had a really nice relationship."An additional perk of being Spielberg's shadow? Getting all the inside scoop about the origins of Teddy. As Angel discovered, the Oscar-winning filmmaker locked horns with his late A.I. collaborator Stanley Kubrick over his character's name. "Spielberg didn't want it to be Teddy, and Kubrick said, 'Well, what else would you call it?,'" Angel explains. "And he said, 'Well, I wouldn't call him Teddy.' But Kubrick said it's got to be Teddy. So, it was."