Chicago native Keke Palmer shines in Disney’s new film ‘Lightyear’

Keke Palmer

The much-anticipated animated Disney/Pixar film Lightyear arrives in theaters this week and Chicago actress Keke Palmer is among the new crew who is now headed “to infinity and beyond!”

Lightyear is the backstory of Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear, who was made famous in the Toy Story movies.

Palmer voices and plays Izzy Hawthorne, a teenager who dreams of becoming a space ranger who follows in the footsteps of her grandmother Alisha, who is Buzz Lightyear’s best friend.

When asked if she could relate to her character Palmer said, “I could totally. Though no one knows my parents publicly, they are definitely my heroes and inspiration, artistically and in every way. So, like Izzy is with her grandmother Alisha, I very much want to make my parents proud and carry that legacy on.”

Izzy is joined on the wild space adventure by fellow wanna-bees Darby and Mo, voiced by veteran performers Dale Soules and Taika Waititi.

“I like the fact that she’s cantankerous, gruff, but talented, and will interact with you in a dutiful manner if you do so too,” said Soules, who voices Darby.

“Mo reminds me of a younger me when I was just figuring things out. There are people I’ve known throughout my life, you know, the way he speaks, I remember growing up. I would just cobble together these characters based on people I know,” said Waititi, who voices “Mo Morrison.”

Reel Chicago can’t reveal how the characters actually meet Buzz, but can share that playing a space ranger has its privileges.

Actress Keke Palmer voices “Lightyear” character Izzy Hawthorne. Image courtesy of Disney/Pixar.

Palmer also will have her own action figure. Asked how it felt, Palmer exclaimed: “Oh my gosh! So cool! I should have known that Disney/Pixar would be coming out the back with some crazy merch. But I didn’t expect at all to become an action figure! For my little nieces and my little nephews to be able to have that character and know that I’ve voiced it, it’s a special gift!”

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