Lost Ollie

Ollie (voiced by Jonathan Groff) and Zozo (voiced by Tim Blake Nelson) in Lost Ollie

Courtesy of Netflix
Lost Ollie

Rosy (voiced by Mary J. Blige), Ollie (voiced by Jonathan Groff) and Zozo (voiced by Tim Blake Nelson) in Lost Ollie

Courtesy of Netflix
Lost Ollie

Jake Johnson as James, Ollie (voiced by Jonathan Groff), Kesler Talbot as Billy and Gina Rodriguez as Sharon in Lost Ollie.

Courtesy of Netflix
Lost Ollie

Kesler Talbot as Billy with Ollie (voiced by Jonathan Groff) in Lost Ollie.

Courtesy of Netflix
Lost Ollie

Zozo (voiced by Tim Blake Nelson), Ollie (voiced by Jonathan Groff) and Rosy (voiced by Mary J. Blige) in Lost Ollie

Courtesy of Netflix.
Fill 1
Fill 1
August 22, 2022
Online Originals

Land of the Lost Ollie

A misplaced toy magically comes to life in the Netflix limited series from creator Shannon Tindle.

Ramin Zahed

For a young child, losing a toy can feel like losing a best friend. Lost Ollie — premiering August 24 on Netflix — imagines that loss from the toy's perspective. The titular character — a patchwork stuffed animal with soulful black eyes and long, floppy ears — comes to life and goes on an epic adventure to find his way home, back to his human, Billy.

The four-part limited series, which combines live-action and CG animation, is based on the book Ollie's Odyssey by popular children's author and illustrator William Joyce, and was adapted by animation veteran Shannon Tindle (Kubo and the Two Strings) and directed by Oscar winner Peter Ramsey (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse).

Tindle says he welcomed the chance to work in a hybrid format. "I was excited, because I like telling stories, regardless of the medium," he says. "I have a very different approach to the way the magic works in this world. In the original [story], there are lots of objects that talk, besides the toys. But in our show, only kids who believe can hear the toys," Tindle says, adding, "Ollie is precious to Billy because his mom made it."

The series features Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter) voicing Ollie, Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) and Jake Johnson (New Girl) as "Momma" and "Daddy" and Kesler Talbot as Billy. The voice cast also includes Mary J. Blige as Rosy, a stuffed bear, and Tim Blake Nelson as Zozo, a toy clown.

"I remember reading it and connecting to the material immediately," Tindle recalls. "I know the book came from a very personal place for Bill Joyce... I grew up in the South and wanted to make the story personal for me as well," he says, referring to the setting of Shepherdsville, Kentucky, his hometown.

Making the production even more personal, Ramsey, a friend from Tindle's early days at DreamWorks Animation, was available to direct the show. "If you hear Shannon's version, he'd tell you that he asked me to direct, but the way I remember it, he just told me I had to do all four episodes!" jokes Ramsey. "I'd been reading the scripts for a year and a half before it went to pre-production. I knew what Shannon was going to bring to the story. He takes material that on the surface looks like typical family fare, but he manages to infuse it with such depth and sincerity. He doesn't shy away from darker, more painful truths — that other shows try to anesthetize.

"We were thrown into the deep end with all the things that you weren't supposed to have in one project," Ramsey continues. "Kids, puppets, weather, animals ... all together with one crazy fast schedule. But it all turned out great in the end."

Tindle says the biggest challenge was making the show's puppet stars believable as living, breathing characters who interact with the humans. "We had incredible puppeteers on the set, and we knew from the beginning that we were going to use CG," he notes. "We were lucky because we had partners that trusted us. We knew early on that [visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic] was going to help us with the CG animation. From the point of view of Netflix, it was all about going with the best, and it was evident from the first test. They know how to make these characters believable."

After putting so much of his own personal memories and passions into the project, Tindle hopes audiences will also see themselves reflected in the characters and storylines. "I want them to have fun, and to be surprised. I want audiences to see our Ollie, Rosy and Zozo as real characters, not just as toys and puppets. More than anything, I hope the show will lead to families talking about and discussing loss. It's about the importance of celebrating a loved one's life and cherishing their memory."

The executive producers of Lost Ollie are Shannon Tindle, Peter Ramsey, Brandon Oldenburg and Lampton Enochs. Shawn Levy and Josh Barry executive produce for 21 Laps Entertainment along with Emily Morris as co-executive producer.

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