Pixar Chief John Lasseter to Cameo in ‘Cars 2’

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John Lasseter is unwittingly driving into the next installment of “Cars.”

The producers of “Cars 2” surprised the Disney and Pixar animation chief in honor of Pixar’s 25th anniversary by introducing a hefty yellow pick-up truck named John Lassetire — get it? — in the upcoming sequel. Lasseter said they registered the character’s name to celebrate the animation studio behind such films as “Toy Story,” ”WALL-E” and “Up.”

“It was news to me,” said Lasseter, who is also serving as a director on the animated film. “I did not know about that, so I was a little surprised. I ended up voicing this character. It was just one line, but now I have a ‘Cars’ character. I’m very excited about that. He’s a good ol’ American pick-up truck, which I think is very appropriate for John Lassetire.”

Lasseter’s character serves as the pit crew chief for a high-profile race car. In the sequel, slick race car Lightning McQueen and his tow truck friend Mater set off on an around-the-world adventure. “Cars 2” producer Denise Ream said she was inspired to inject Lasseter in the film by George Lucas’ brief cameo in “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith.”

Over the past few weeks, the studio has been teasing several new additions to the cast, including blue British spy ride Finn McMissile (voiced by Michael Caine), purple sportster Holley Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer), egomaniac Italian champion Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro) and orange henchman Grem (Joe Mantegna). “Cars 2” is scheduled for release June 24.

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