Ruebens Talks Rex!

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World, D23 spoke with the Hollywood stars of the resort’s most beloved attractions.

As Captain Rx-24 (Rex), in Star Tours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (1990-2010) Paul Reubens 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.

“I think George Lucas heard my voice in the film Flight of the Navigator and then I got asked to work on it,” Reubens says.

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.

Reubens remembers, “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!'”

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.

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